2021 MSBL National Hall of Fame Inductee: Turk Starniri, Lehigh Valley (PA) MSBL/MABL

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

(Editor’s Note) When MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler honors individuals as inductees into the various MSBL Halls of Fame we send out a questionnaire to be returned and then it is my job to formulate the responses and make it flow.  Turk sent me separate responses (below) and it is a breath of fresh air to review such well-thought-out responses written out in their own words, as in a storybook form.  The bottom line is that with some slight modifications, I left it alone for you to come to know Turk just a little better.  So here you go.  Turk Starniri, 2021 MSBL National Hall of Fame inductee.

I am 76 years of age and now living in Easton, Pa. I was born Ernest Edward Starniri Jr. and got my nickname “Turk” from my father. They also called him Turk and he never told me how he acquired it, which remains one of my many mysteries in life. I am a retired screen printer but still manage to do some part-time work for some of my good, long-standing customers.

I began with the MSBL in 1988 when the league was introduced in the Lehigh Valley. I’ve been associated with the league since then and served as player, coach, and President from 1996 to 2006 and again from 2019 to the present.

I currently manage the Moondogs in the ‘Over 55’ division of the league and will return to Arizona and the MSBL World Series as the Moondog manager for my 32nd year. I did not make the trip in 2020 because of COVID. I was a first baseman/pitcher in my early years but time has relegated me to a coaching position, although in my mind I can still turn on a good fastball!

After being together for 31 years, Doreen and I married in 2019. She’s very instrumental in my success as Moondog manager and Lehigh MSBL/MABL League President. She’s very supportive and does not hesitate to critique me in all phases of my managerial duties.

I played for Easton High School in 1962 as we won the District XI Championship (there was no state champ at that time).  We were surrounded by amazing talent with a superb pitching staff and luckily, I was awarded the team MVP. The number of great players on that team brought many MLB scouts to our games and also later that summer during our Legion games, including a young Dodger scout, Tom LaSorda. He was as colorful then as he was in his later years.

Although I had many offers to sign, I elected to take a full baseball scholarship to a small school in Iowa. After one year, I decided to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately, I received my draft notice in spring training and my baseball career was over but a new career was born- a combat Infantryman in Vietnam. I did not play hardball again until the first year of the MSBL, 1988.

My Moondog teammates and I are proud of the many league and playoff championships but are especially proud of the MSBL World Series Championships we have won throughout the years. The most rewarding aspect of winning in Arizona is, for the most part, all of the players on our roster played in the local Lehigh Valley MSBL.

There are many people to whom I am grateful for helping with my baseball career.  But none so worthy as my hero and best friend, my Dad who after working many long, hot hours at the steel mill, would never be too tired to play catch with his son in the vacant lot behind our house. Those were the best of times.

This award is a confirmation of the hard work, dedication, and great teammates in the 32 years of playing in Arizona.  We have won several Arizona championships in several divisions throughout the years, and they were all satisfying, and all were the result of a consolidated team effort.  My career may be nearing its end but I can leave with a sense of accomplishment. I’ve had a career to last a lifetime.