By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
If you fictitiously look in the dictionary under ‘Joe Soto’ it would begin with the phrase bleeds baseball. Joe Soto has constructed and led the Sacramento Tribe into an MSBL World Series champion for the ages. While playing in the Sacramento MSBL since 1993, this retired firefighter and high school coach adapts well to the national stage as a multiple ring-bearer from the MSBL World Series.
Because of Joe’s love of the game and his success while playing and coaching it, MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler has inducted Joe into the 2023 class of the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame.
Joe is an institution in the Sacramento MSBL, and his fan club rivals Taylor Swift!
“Joe, probably LONG OVERDUE award. I don’t know many people with a BASEBALL IQ like yours at any level – plus on the field throughout your lifetime not many better amateur Baseball Players. Without question the best Hit and Run hitter I’ve ever known at any level of Baseball. Congratulations Joe You’ve earned this honor.” – Phil Gelhaus
“Joe, congratulations! Well deserved, and overdue. Thanks for all your support, time, and effort over the years in leading the Tribe to countless victories. I am honored to know you and to have played with and for you. See you in AZ!” – Mike Thatcher
At the age of 75, Joe has hit his prime. The Tribe is truly to be feared, as evidenced by their 13 rings in multiple age groups. This year Joe will be playing with and managing the Tribe in the 65s and 70s, both in the National Division of course. Their championship domination also winds itself to Las Vegas, along with many regional tournaments to stay sharp for the World Series.
“I love to play and am not just a manager,” said Joe. “I will be playing with the Solons in the 73-over division, too.”
Joe has a baseball resume that lays to rest his ability or knowledge being adequate enough to lead the Tribe to title after title. He isn’t a guy to sit on the bench, scribble a lineup into the scorebook, confirm the dinner reservations, and then cross his legs and watch the game.
“My baseball journey began at Clarksburg High School for four years, Sacramento City College for two more, where we were runners-up in two State Championships. Then I attended Sacramento State College for two years where we won the Western Conference both years. I was fortunate enough to be named All-American Shortstop my senior year, which was 1970.”
No Hall of Fame story would be complete without a tribute from his best friend in baseball, and in life, Pat Kelly.
“I met Joe back in our Sac State days. Though Joe was a couple of years ahead of me, I heard about the little All-American shortstop when I arrived. I never got to play with Joe until we started playing MSBL in ‘93 in Sacramento for the A’s. I made my first trip to the World Series that year, but Joe did not go. I told Joe how fun it was to play hardball again using the professional fields in Arizona and I got Joe to go the next year. We have been going ever since.
We started playing with Ken Chavez and the Sacramento Tribe in ‘08 and Joe took over the manager position of the Tribe in 2015. Joe has always put the other players’ needs in front of his, even though he can still hold his own.
It has been an honor to play beside this fine man, and more importantly to be able to call him a great friend for the past 30 years.” – Pat Kelly
Joe continues to play in the Sacramento MSBL with the Dodgers in the 60s and 68s, where he both plays and manages. He wears many hats with the Dodgers, including shortstop, third baseman, coach, and manager.
I asked Joe whom he would like to thank for being by his side during his baseball sojourn, both on and off the field.
“First of all, my Dad Louis Soto, along with my bride of 48 years, Cindy, and my two daughters and four grandkids. My high school coach Tom Pearse, my college coaches Del Bandy and Cal Boyes, and especially Ken Chavez, who started the Tribe in Sacramento and managed many championship teams.
I certainly can’t forget my best friend Pat Kelly, whom I’ve played with for 30 years. My thanks also go out to all the players I’ve played with and managed over the years.”
When I asked Joe about a special moment from his highlight reel, he knew right away what we needed to report.
“I played 81 straight innings for the Sacramento Tribe in 2013 in the Arizona World Series,” explained Joe. “Plus, we won the championship that year!”
“I love baseball and the MSBL has given me the opportunity to keep playing and managing. It is really an honor to be inducted with so many great players and managers.”