By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
We’re going to switch gears here a little. First, the facts. MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler has inducted 67-year-old Bob Korvas into this year’s class of the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame. Regarding my ‘switching gears’ comment, Bob Korvas’ baseball resume is too colorful and extensive to attempt to edit.
I send people questionnaires occasionally that I can work from to compile a story that I can then follow up with a conversation. We’ll call it a roadmap. In Bob’s case, as you will see, there isn’t a chance that I could capture his detail and passion. So, though somewhat lengthy, I am leaving it alone with very little editing. Below are Bob’s answers to my questionnaire, just as he sent them back. After reading his answers, as I did, you’ll come away with a deep appreciation of this man after reviewing everything in his own words. Enjoy!
Where do you live? Until recently Prospect Heights Il. the last 35 years, Chicago area my entire life. Soon to be a resident of Florida in 2024
What do you do for a living? Independent insurance agency owner and real estate investor.
When did you begin playing for MSBL and where? 1988 was my very first MSBL World Series when there were only about 37 teams. Stayed at the BUTTES. I was part of mixed bag of 16 players I never played with until that first tournament. We had Jose Cardenal and Ken Rudolph on the roster managed by Mike Pinto. Mike founded the Chicago North (CNMSBL). He discovered me at the Randy Hundley Fantasy camp. Apparently, I impressed him and he asked me if I was interested in going to ‘some first ever senior world series tournament.’ The rest is history.
What league are you affiliated with currently? Only the CNMSBL now. But have been involved with the old Southwest Suburban MSBL in the 1990 to early 2000s, as well as the Central Suburban MSBL (Dupage County IL) and one other league with a bunch of college kids called the Shoreline 1990-94. *for a couple of years there were 154 games between those 4 teams. Yes CRAZY!
What age division do you play in and for whom in the league? Now I’m down to one team CNMSBL Nationals 60 plus, managed by Chuck Scheidt and Scott Cole.
What position(s) do you play? These days first base, third base. and a little pitching. Age, injury, and wear and tear from being a pitcher and catcher until 2010 now is taking its toll.
Family details? Married to Kathy since 1978. Just the two of us all this time. We have an expanding family of brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews plus their spouses these days. My Dad was a WWII paratrooper with a purple heart from Normandy (D-DAY). He passed in 2002 and Mom died January 2014. I have one older brother.
Describe your baseball resume, please: (high school, college, pro?) I started at age nine throwing curve balls on two little league teams plus fast pitch on the street continuing all the way through going to a small (12-game season) Holy Trinity Catholic High School where I caught and pitched. I lettered every year and was selected to the city’s HS All-star teams my last two years as well as captain. I had to work from age 15 so baseball in the summer didn’t happen.
I Joined Northeastern Illinois University for three seasons on scholarship as a pitcher. Head Coach Ray Kasper made me a pitcher. I never got to hit since DH began back then. I threw 92 MPH+ until my right elbow injury ended my baseball dream. We ranked third in the USA back then. Three guys were drafted. One pitched for the SF Giants until his rookie-year injury.
What is your MSBL World Series, Fall Classic, or other MSBL tournament experience and achievements? 1988: In my first game in the World Series at Grand Canyon College I went back-to-back with Jose Cardenal. My home run cleared the 410 to Center, a 40-foot-high fence. Mike Pinto retrieved the ball for me. Based on the ‘divot’ he estimated between 475 and 500 feet. *(note: my wife was videotaping at the time. She couldn’t find the ball in flight, but you can hear the dugout shouting “holy shit!!!” more than once. I still chuckle)
Steve Sigler invited me for the first ever travel ‘Friendship series’ in St Thomas in February from ‘91 through ‘93. It was a diverse group of players including Jose Cardenal. I remember being the last plane permitted to leave Chicago Ohare during a blizzard after two deicings then staying at Frenchman’s Reef. It was truly an amazing honor bestowed upon me by Steve. Great people hosted us there. I got invited to the governor’s home for dinner up on the hill.
Our games were broadcast on the islands. There was a large turnout of fans and the stands were filled. We played in a soccer field converted to baseball. The right field was only 250, the left 360, center was 420 with a towering old 6-foot-wide trunk base Mahogany tree ‘inside’ the playing field fence.
Steve thought of me as his ‘personal’ catcher after that. I pitched one complete 9-inning game. I hit three home runs (left, left-center, and right-center). We won 12-9 and I threw a complete game. The guys from St. Thomas sent me a cassette recording of the game and my interview after. I wish I could find that.
In 1998 Steve gave me the honor of asking me to manage a team in the 1998 Nike Masters in Portland, Oregon. Of course, I said yes. We ended up losing the championship in a close game pitched by 6’8” Jack Pohlmeier to a California team with 35 players on the roster, compared to our 12 from the Midwest. We started with 14. At least until two guys were injured in a car accident on the way to the first game.
I’m proud to say I’ve won eight championship rings through the World Series and Fall Classic play. I’ve played in 20 finals. My first championship ring was in 2005 as a player on the 45 plus SWS Dodgers. I was also a Player/Manager in 2006 as we won again for the 35-plus team.
Individual home league play highlights Four home runs in one game in the Chicago North MSBL and six consecutive over two games (two in the SWS MSBL) in 1994.
In one game I hit three home runs at Fenton HS in my first Central Suburban MSBL game. The third one was to left-center field. It majestically flew over a moving freight train about 450 plus feet. (Dave Trytek pitching
Whom do you play with in tournaments and what age division? This year’s World Series is with Alden and Reid Stiefel Chicago MAXX Cubs in the 60 and 65 divisions. I’m only playing two instead of three weeks for the first time since the WS expanded to three weeks more than a decade ago.
Are there any individuals you would like to thank in helping your baseball career? As an 18-year-old sophomore at Northeastern Illinois, Coach Ray Kasper noticed I was up and down mentally. He gave me a book to read, ‘Success Through Positive Mental Attitude’ by W. Clement Stone. Coming from a poor blue-collar background, it was the most pivotal point in my life. It turned my up-and-down mental attitude into a positive confident one. It not only propelled me to success on the baseball field, but it also set me up for my entire life. From that point forward I never looked back.
Are there any personal comments you wish to share or any MSBL thoughts? I’ve always admired and respected what Steve (Sigler) created from day one. That is why I’ve always tried to be a good ambassador on the field as a player and a manager the entire time as a member of the MSBL.
He’s given me and all of us a place (or Mecca) where players from every background come to meet and compete in a game we all love. It keeps us young at heart. Fostering new friendships and maintaining old ones. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to meet so many new acquaintances and make so many fond memories while being here.
I feel so fortunate to have played with and against so many former professionals. None of this would have happened without Steve Sigler’s vision. The one he shared in Time Magazine about 1988.
Thanks to that vision, I’ve been able to meet people and play in minor league parks as part of a legends old-timers game. One year in Iowa I played against Luis Tiant, Jose Cardenal, Bill Campbell, Dick Allen, Carmen Fanzone, and Jim Hickman, before the regularly scheduled game.
What does this award mean to you? Even though I’ve been at every single MSBL World Series without missing a single year, including 2015 the year I played with binocular double vision seeing two baseballs after getting hit in my right eye by a foul ball off of my own bat, it is completely unexpected!