By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Those of you who have been playing in the MSBL World Series for a decade or two, or more, have probably seen Gary Firestone roaming the fields and either pounding the fences or clearing them from the left side of the plate. He has been playing in Arizona since 1988 and his profile is one to remember, either from the parking lot or as he stands in the batter’s box ready to make you wish you weren’t throwing that game. When you look at his picture in this article, you’ll probably say to yourself, ‘Oh yeah! That guy!’
“I came into the league in 1988 with the LA Pirates (California) after answering an ad in the newspaper and that first year I also went to the World Series,” explained Firestone. “Dan Piro was our first manager and I took over in 1990. It took about nine years to win but then things took off.”
Gary has been involved with the World Series with teams in various age brackets as players have gotten a little older, as well as managing championship Father/Son teams. To recognize all of Gary’s contributions to the game and to MSBL, MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler has inducted Gary into this year’s class of the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame.
“This award means I have dedicated a lot of years of my life to this sport and it is a really important part. It means I was inducted as a player and my ability has been recognized. People can now go onto the internet and see for years to come who was involved with the World Series and in baseball in general. This award is special for my family and future grandkids. They can always go in and see Grandpa. I have known Steve (Sigler) for half of my 73 years and these past 36 years have been the best of my life. Thank you!”
Regarding Gary’s life off the field, he is now retired from the horse and cattle business and played MSBL baseball in Texas while living there. He moved back to California and remained in the cattle and horse business and continued to break horses, as well as various body parts. Most everything clicks or scrapes in his body now but Gary has a simple solution.
“Pop a few Advil, go out and play, and worry about it later.”
What is the history of Gary the baseball junkie?
“I went to Santa Monica City College and played ball while there. I moved to Hawaii and played on their baseball team after getting married. Former Major League pitcher Bo Belinski was my coach. The Hawaii Islanders was the AAA team there, and Bo decided to run that. I played for Bo and the Islanders to fill in on the roster after others were drafted to go to Vietnam.”
Gary also went to other tryouts around the country and was actually ready to sign a Yankee contract after traveling to Yankee Stadium for a workout. After putting three in the upper deck of the right-field stands, they called him over.
“They wanted to sign me but I was 27 years old. When they found out my age, they said I would be a 30-year-old rookie by the time they called me up and they wouldn’t get their investment back so they backed off. That was the end of baseball until MSBL in 1988.”
Gary possesses an amazing 31 MSBL World Series Championship Rings. That could be a record. Where did all of these rings come from?
“I used to coach the Agua Dulce Reds back in the day before we became the Waikiki Beach Boys. We have quite a few rings from that era. I also either coach or play for all three weeks and have many championships as a player, like with the Dragons, Rhode Island Salty Dogs, and some others. I have three Father/Son rings, too.
“I’ll be playing for the Fresno Grizzlies in the 70s this year and also in the Father/Son as manager with my kids as Team Hawaii. I’ll be playing in week two for the Salty Dogs in the 73+ division. In 2024 I think we’ll get the band back together as the Waikiki Beach Boys in the 60-over division just to see what happens.”
What are your special takeaways from your World Series experiences?
“By far, my greatest experience is being on the field in the Father/Son division with my twin daughters, who are now 19, and my 23-year-old son. The rings are nice but playing alongside them means so much more.”
Gary continued, “The two most important people in this journey is my wife Jennifer for allowing me to go away every Sunday and chase my dreams for what seems like forever, and the second is Steve Sigler for inventing this organization and allowing me to play. I would have stopped playing without MSBL. I wanted to stick around long enough to take the field alongside my kids and we accomplished that.
I have made so many friends in my baseball days. The list is too long to recite. However, Cedric Watson has been there 34 straight years and plays every Sunday with me and at every World Series. Tracy Wheeler and I have played together almost 30 years. I have been blessed to be able to continue playing while making true lifelong friends along the way.”