By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Gary Stonebrook is a 61 year old painting contractor residing in Antelope, California. That may sound like the guy next door but Gary is hardly your average Joe. Gary has been a part of the Sacramento MSBL since 1991 and continues to play three times a week. Gary is no stranger to Sacramento championships but the cherry on top is his MSBL Tournament resume.
This is best absorbed through Gary’s explanation: “Since 1991 I’ve managed or played in 14 Arizona World Series Championships with a personal Championship pitching record of 5-1. I played at the Fall Classic seven times, winning twice. I’ve also played in the Vegas, Tri-Valley, San Diego, Woodland Davis and other regional tournaments probably close to 50 times combined and won those tournaments 20 times.”
Gary continued, “Since 1991 I’ve played or managed the 28+ Rivercats, 38+ SacramentoStars, Sacrament Giants, Sacrament Tribe and Sacramento Royals. Also, the 40+ Tri-Valley 40’s, 45+ Sacramento Royals, Sacramento Stars, 55+ Sacramento Giants, Sacrament Tribe, Sacramento Royals, 60+ Sacramento Tribe.”
Whew! After reading all of this, is should come as no surprise that Gary has been inducted by MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler into the 2017 class of the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame.
A family support unit is very important to a baseball junkie like Gary. “I have been married for 43 years to my high school sweetheart Gerri. We have three children, two boys Aaron 42, Joshua 41, of whom both boys have played father/son with me in Arizona and a daughter Jamie 38, along with 11 grandchildren that attend a lot of my games and support me.”
Even with such an extensive portfolio of baseball memories there must be something that sticks out. “My biggest highlight was during a regular league game with both of my sons on my team. My youngest son Josh was at bat and hit his first home run ever over the left field fence with a wood bat and his brother Aaron followed him next in the batting order and hit a home run right after him, same place. I have both home run balls on my mantel. I cannot express the joy of being able to witness that and the look on their faces will forever be etched in my mind. I guess all those BP pitches I threw them when they were young finally paid off.”
Nobody makes this journey alone. “My mother and father were great supporters and always attended my games. I had a friend who’s father took me alone under his wing when I was 11 years old. He instilled in me a deep desire to excel and to push myself beyond limits. His encouragement back then has enabled me to still be playing and pitching strong today. His name was Bob Phelps and I owe him a lot. Another great influence was Jim Deane. He taught me the “pull the window shade down” curve ball which I still throw today.
That describes the bricks and mortar of how Gary’s baseball career took hold but what about the true inspiration. “I owe a lot of credit to my biggest supporter, my wife Gerri, whom in the last 45 years of us being together has never gotten tired of watching or supporting me playing ball. She has made sacrifices over the years to allow me to continue to play a game that I love. She has sat through endless hours of good and bad games always encouraging me, even when I was struggling to believe in myself to keep pushing forward. Her faith in me is priceless.”
Gary can be found on the World Series fields in Arizona this year with the 55+ Sacramento Royals and the 60+ Sacramento Tribe, both powerhouses in their divisions throughout the years. Gary can certainly be included in the discussion as to why these teams have such a long history of excellence. “This award represents being acknowledged for my contributions by my peers for my ability on the field as a player and manager. It is a reminder that no matter how old you are, the love of baseball is a part of your soul.”
Stonebrook continues, “I have had the pleasure the last 26 years of playing in the Men’s Senior Baseball League against some great teams, numerous ex-professional baseball players and the greatest band of brothers I call my team mates and extended family, most of which have played alongside me for 25 years. Win or lose, those memories are what allowed me the honor of this award and I am deeply humbled to receive it. It is also my deepest gratitude to Steve Sigler for his vision to allow men like me to continue to live out our dreams of playing hard ball no matter our age or level of play. When we step on that field and hear the umpire call “play ball” we are still young boys at heart.”