40-and-up Baseball Finds a Home in Manatee County

Compiled by Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

The following story appeared in the Observer news publication in Sarasota, Florida on January 11, 2023, and was compiled by journalist Ryan Kohn.  We are reprinting this article with permission. 

The Florida Adult Baseball League is now two years old under the MSBL umbrella and was operating exclusively in an 18-over format.  Going into 2023, they have expanded to include a 40+ division and changed their existing division to 19-over.

Below is a thorough discussion with league operation managers Tim Tremblay and Roman Katynski as they explain the growth and future of the league.  Enjoy!

By Ryan Kohn 4:00 p.m. January 11, 2023

Roman Katynski didn’t excuse himself during our chat. 

Catching a fly ball was more important than the interview.

Katynski sprinted approximately 30 feet forward and caught the fly ball, which came during a Jan. 8 conditioning and batting practice session at Heritage Harbour Park.

He reached it just before it was about to hit the ground, and then headed back to continue the interview. Before he could get back, a line drive headed our way, and he was off again. This time, though, the ball soared over his head despite his leap.

At 39, he showed he still has some plays left in him.

Katynski’s passion for the game has led him to both play and be president of a new 40-and-up baseball league designed to attract players from Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The league, officially called FL Adult Baseball, also has a 19-and-up division, which has run for two years. The league is under the larger umbrella of the national Men’s Senior Baseball League/Men’s Adult Baseball League, commonly known as MSBL/MABL. 

Roman Katynski and Tim Tremblay share duties as presidents of the Florida Adult Baseball League.

Katynski said the success of the 19-and-up league, which has more than 200 participants, led him and the league’s board members to consider the 40-and-up league.

Katynski said the league’s perfect target is the ‘baseball dad,’ the guy who goes to his child’s Little League games and is still around the sport but hasn’t played it in a while.

Those people already have a glove in working condition and likely have a bat. All they need is a compelling reason to step back onto the baseball diamond. Katynski said this league will be a sufficient reason. 

“We’re trying to get as many people as we can,” Katynski said. 

Make no mistake, the league is baseball, not softball. Nothing against the other sport, Katynski said, but there’s nothing like playing with a hardball and hitting off overhand pitchers. 

After taking in the league’s initial training session, I can say with confidence that the talent will be there. Let me put it this way. Board member Tim Tremblay, 61, brought his 19-year-old son Alex Tremblay with him. Alex Tremblay played on The Out-of-Door Academy’s state championship team in 2021 and he was ripping the ball well at the training session, lacing multiple doubles down the left field line — but other hitters on the Over 40 roster were matching him swing for swing, some even hitting the ball out of the park. 

There are good pitchers, too. Tim Tremblay said Kennon McCaa, 53, has one of the best breaking pitches in the area. It doesn’t have an official name, but it’s nasty, resulting in a lot of strikeouts, he said. 

Getting outdoors on a Sunday morning and working up a sweat is one reason to join the league. For Tim Tremblay, continuing to play is more about the people than it is the sport. Tremblay said the baseball community is not unlike a college fraternity. Once you’re acquainted with someone through the sport, there’s a bond for life. 

“Baseball people are good people,” Tremblay said. “There are never major disagreements out here. There are some minor disagreements, but those are settled by the sport’s rules. That’s just how it is.”

That camaraderie showed at practice, too. Even with many of the participants being strangers, people were watching out for each other, alerting players when a fly ball was headed their way and helping the pitchers clean up balls from the infield between batters.

There were only 10 or so players (plus their kids) at practice, but Tremblay and Katynski said they expect to have enough players to fill four teams by the time the season actually begins in February. Some of that belief is because they know of a handful of players who couldn’t make it on Jan. 8. The rest of the players will come from word-of-mouth. 

The board is less confident on where the league will play its games.

Currently, the league is using Heritage Harbour Park and the Manatee PAL fields in Bradenton, but both of those are private fields, meaning it costs money to use them. Katynski said reserving the Heritage Harbour Park for a practice costs $65 during the day or $165 at night, the increased price because of the cost of using lights.

Katynski and Tremblay said the league has reached out to both Manatee County and Sarasota County about reserving spots on their public fields. In the past the league has used Manatee County’s fields at Braden River Park and Buffalo Creek Park for its 19-and-up division, but Tremblay said the fields at Braden River are in less-than-ideal condition and the fields at Buffalo Creek are a tad small for adult play; the infield is 90 feet and the fences measure 220 feet. Those problems make the private fields in the area superior options, despite the additional cost. 

The league would prefer to play at a place like Lakewood Ranch Park. The problem is, so would everyone else. Marcus Francis of Manatee County’s Parks and Natural Resources division said those fields will go toward high school teams starting in February, and with youth leagues also playing on the fields at night, it makes scheduling difficult this time of year. 

“We talk about sharing the wealth a little,” Francis said. “People want to use Lakewood Ranch (Park) seven days a week for 10 hours. Meanwhile, we’ve got these other facilities that get used two or three days a week for two or three hours. It (high usage) takes a toll on fields.”

While the lack of strong public options for the league’s games is disappointing, it won’t stop the league from thriving, as too many people in the area want to play baseball, Katynski said. And participants in this league do not exactly have to be former college or pro players to join. Basic knowledge of — and a love for — the game is all that is required. 

People interested in joining the league can get more information by visiting FLAdultBaseball.com and filling out the site’s registration form. Practices will be held each Sunday in January from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and games will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays in February, with locations varying.