Submitted by Billy Jacobs, edited by Steve LaMontia
My name is Billy Jacobs and I was born in 1948 during a massive snowstorm in New York City. My first baseball memory is marching in the Little League baseball parade in Valley Stream, Long Island when I was seven. My parents (Sandy and Gloria Jacobs) took me to Yankee Stadium that year and from the moment I saw the ultra-green grass… I was hooked. I went back to Yankee Stadium numerous times and saw the 1955 World Series against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field as well as the 1956-58 World Series back at Yankee Stadium against the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Milwaukee Braves in ‘57 and ‘58. Naturally, Mickey Mantle was my idol and I’ve worn #7 since day one of my baseball career.
My Dad was transferred to Dallas, Texas when I was in junior high school and the first thing I did was to go to Mickey Mantle’s Bowling Alley to see if I could get a glimpse of him. I could never get within 50 feet of him at Yankee Stadium. I was “shocked” when my brother Gary and I walked in on a December morning and found the bowling alley basically empty except for MICKEY MANTLE. He was very kind to us and gave us personalized autographed photos and shook our hands. To this day, that moment remains one of the highlights of my life.
I played baseball and basketball growing up and after graduating high school I went to Texas Tech on a partial baseball scholarship in 1966. Things were going great and I was starting as a freshman but a serious knee injury knocked me out of competition for over three years. I transferred to the University of Texas in Austin in ‘67 and over the next seven years earned my undergraduate degree, master’s degree, and PhD. I played intramural sports and highly competitive softball but assumed that I would never get to play baseball again. That changed in 1988 thanks to Steve Sigler and his formation of MSBL. Like thousands of other older guys who loved to play baseball…MSBL changed our lives by offering an opportunity many of us assumed had long ago slipped away.
I played in the Austin MSBL baseball league for about 15 years and for the past 17 years I have been playing in the San Antonio MSBL league under Skip Bradley. My home league team is the San Antonio Red Sox, managed by David Sweeten. I believe we are one of the oldest aged teams in the country with an average age of 71. We play in the 55+ division as there aren’t enough older players for any older division.
I began playing in the MSBL World Series in 1992 and have returned EVERY YEAR since. Our teams also played in many National tournaments in Las Vegas. Playing under several different team names including the USA Volkers, US Patriots, and the San Antonio Rangers I’ve been fortunate to experience numerous great teammates over the years. I’ve played mostly shortstop over the 30+ years of MSBL but moved to third about 5-6 years ago. I became the player/manager in 1999 primarily because nobody else wanted the responsibility.
I’m especially proud of the fact that our teams have always entered the highest competitive division available over our journey through the 35/40/45/50/55/60/65/70 and now the 73+ division for 2021. We’ve been fortunate to win 12 National tournaments over this time between Phoenix and Las Vegas but the numerous World Series titles truly stand out in retrospect. The most recent World Series championships were all with the USA Volkers. We won the 65+ National division in 2016. We also won the 70+ National division championships in 2018 and 2019. We lost the title in 2020 Covid year, coming in second to the LA Athletics by a 5-4 score.
We’ve had many losses as well, coming in second many times over the years to the San Diego Berry’s dynasties and more recently to the L.A. Athletic’s dynasties. We never backed away from the competition and although it was a tough challenge to break through against these teams the intensity of the competition was always worthwhile through the many disappointments as well.
I want to thank my wife and best friend Brenda, who has enthusiastically supported my playing every step of the way. My late parents, brother, children (Ben, Leah, and Colin), grandchildren, and many friends have often come to ballgames and I’m most appreciative. I am grateful to have been teammates as well with my great friend of 55+ years Jim Gattis. Teaming with Jim was the highlight of my MSBL career.
I am truly grateful to Steve Sigler for his foresight in realizing the potential that MSBL had from the earliest days and developing MSBL into the premier men’s baseball league in the world and creating the World Series, the most fun-filled and competitive annual experience that most of us old ballplayers look forward to. Thanks to MSBL, many of us have developed lifelong friendships that extend far beyond the field. Truthfully, the camaraderie transcends the competition at some point as we get older and I believe that is the center of the MSBL soul. We are all very fortunate to have the opportunity to see and enjoy great friendships while playing the game we grew up with. This, in my opinion, is the essence of sports.