By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Editor’s note: It seems like I have been printing stories about the Montebello Angels forever and I am not far wrong. Robert Oskin is the architect of the team that nobody wants to see piling into the other dugout. Robert was kind enough to share his MSBL baseball history with us. We decided to leave Robert’s story in his own words, as they were so descriptive and passionate. Meet Robert Oskin of the Montebello Angels, our newest member of the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame.
My name is Robert Oskin and I am currently 55 years old. I reside in Montebello, California, and am the manager of the Montebello Angels. Just like everything in life after a lot of hard work, I’m fortunate to own my own Real Estate Company called Excellence Real Estate in the city of Whittier, California. I’ve been very lucky to have gotten into it because it allows me to take the time off to travel all the different locations when the MSBL tournaments come around.
About 20 years ago I was playing weekend baseball and we heard of some guys taking time off to go play in a tournament in Las Vegas. After doing some investigating, some friends and I decided to go play. Little did we know how big the MSBL was! We only went out there with 10 players but picked up three guys from the pool play. It was definitely an experience. We pretty much got killed out there with my friend Jaime Perez and myself having to pitch in every game.
To make matters worse we were called the Montebello All-Stars back then, but we were hooked from that point on. We had to change the name because we didn’t live up to the All-Star name so my friend Henry said he would buy the uniforms for all of us and we agreed to let him call it whatever he wanted, so of course, he was a big Angels fan so we’ve kept the name ever since. The three of us graduated from Montebello High School so we kept it as Montebello Angels.
Our team mostly plays weekend baseball out here in the Los Angeles area. On Saturday some of us are playing in a 50 and over league where most of our games are at 8 am and that allows us to go play in the 35 and over league starting at 11 am. On Sundays, we were playing in an open age league but with covid now most of us have taken Sundays off.
Our 35 and over league is very good with eight teams in the top division and six in the lower division. Out of those top eight teams, most of the players go to the MSBL tournaments in Palm Springs, Vegas, and Arizona so the competition is very good. Everyone is always excited for those tournaments to come around.
I myself pitch and play first base. But when I do throw for the Angels, we usually have such a great defense that they make all the pitchers look good.
Back ‘in the day’ you were able to play most sports, so from the third grade on I played football, basketball, tennis, and baseball. I ended up playing four years of Varsity baseball at Montebello High School along with playing football and wrestling. After high school, I attended Cal State Los Angeles and got my degree in Business Administration.
As a team, we just won our 30th Tournament Championship with the new ‘Beat the Heat‘ tourney in Irvine being the most recent. Thankfully we got over the hump because in our last three prior tournaments we made the championships but came up short. So hopefully with that win, we can carry it over to Arizona in the 40’s bracket. We know it’s never easy because the competition is so tough.
One thing that I’m proud of is that we have always played in the top divisions of the MSBL and another thing is our team doesn’t have a sponsor. Most of our players have to pay their own fees for the league and so on.
I would have to say the best experience for me in all the years is probably winning our first World Series ring but the most fun or best game we ever had actually came in a loss last year in the 40 division of the World Series in the championship game to the So Cal Snappers. They ended up defeating us in 18 innings, 5-3 but it was such a great game to be in. I really feel that we had way more opportunities to win in the game and in the end, they prevailed. Both teams battled to the end and I was so proud of our team.
Our Angels have played in the 25’s, 35’s, and currently, we’re in the 40’s in the World Series but our team is getting older so next year we’ll probably be in the 35’s and 45’s throughout the year. Hopefully, we’ll be in the 40 division for a couple more years ‘till the rest can all come up. We’ve pretty much had the same team throughout the years. It’s actually our weekend baseball team and we just add some players that are our friends in the same league or who have played with us in the past.
The individuals I would like to thank is Junior Esparza, who now comes with us off and on. We’ve been together from the beginning. We went to high school together. He’s several years younger than me but we’ve mostly been playing on the same teams ever since. He sometimes brings out a team called the Paramount Pirates. Also, Mike Alcala who is also in the MSBL Hall of Fame. We’ve been friends for a long time. We both played on the team called Matanzas with the great coach Mario Diaz who was from Cuba. After his passing, both Mike and I ran the team for a while.
My personal thoughts are because of the MSBL, there has been given an opportunity for me to have a friendship with our players and families. I love the fact that when we go to Vegas or Palm Springs that most all the guys bring their wives or girlfriends and family. We have been playing together so long that I’ve seen their kids grow up. I can’t tell you enough how much I love the guys on our team.
If my friend Henry Yue hadn’t stopped playing for family and business reasons, I would never have assumed the job of managing and just kept it going. Of course, through the years we’ve had our issues with players, but somehow, we always work it out and stay friends. Like I try to always remember and say, it’s not my team, it’s our team. Those are the guys out there playing and making it happen so I believe that we win so much because of them and their talent. Chemistry does go a long way.
When Steve Sigler called me saying I was getting inducted into the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame, it came as a shock. I wasn’t expecting that at all. With all those teams out there and running such a huge organization, I was really honored to receive the award. I feel Steve runs such a great organization. I cannot imagine all the work, time, and effort it takes to put on all that he does. I always feel good taking our team to tournaments because I know it’s going to be organized and in order. I appreciate that after every Championship game, win or lose, Steve always finds time to call me to ask how it went and to Thank us for always participating. It really shows me a lot and goes a long way.
My last thought as I get older, I always ask myself why I do it and how much longer can we go. I have always loved the game of baseball, as we all do growing up as kids, and am glad that I can still play and enjoy it. But we all love winning and competing but I just really enjoy the camaraderie of all the guys. They’re the reason that we keep coming back because they make it so easy for me to keep it going.