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‘A Brother’s Gift — and Love of the Game — Keeps a 78-year-old Judge Hitting Liners’…by Mike Newall, Philadelphia Enquirer

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Judge Ben Lerner resides in Philadelphia and plays in the John A. DeBenedictis Baseball League managed by league president Pat Fynes, an MSBL affiliate encompassing the Wilmington, Delaware, South Jersey and Suburban Philadelphia areas.  This 78-year old baseball aficionado continues to trade in his robes for a uniform every week while playing for the Plymouth Braves in the 65-over division and owes his appreciation and skills of the game to his brother Alan, who passed away in 2010.

“Alan got me started about a dozen years ago with the 55+ Diamondbacks in what was then called the Tri-State League,” explained Ben. “When enough of us properly aged I “graduated” with many of my teammates to the new 65+ division, playing with the Plymouth Braves, with whom I still play. I am an off the bench first baseman and outfielder when I play the field—adequate at best.”

Ben is also an MSBL World Series participant, playing for MSBL managerial legend and 2016 MSBL Man of the Year Donny DeCordova and his Tri-Valley Giants.

“About five years ago I went to Arizona to play on one of Donny’s Giants teams in the World Series and I have gone every year since, moving up from the 70+ to the 73+ division. I play the outfield down there and do my best not to get hit in the head with a fly ball! I hope to still be ambulatory when there is hopefully an 80+ division.

I am probably one of the least gifted players on my team, but nobody loves the game more than I do. After my family and my judicial career, baseball is my greatest passion and my greatest joy. My brother Alan, John DeBenedictis, Pat Fynes, my Braves teammates and MSBL have given me the gift of playing the game, and I am beyond grateful to all of them.”

On March 14th Philadelphia Enquirer journalist Mike Newall posted an article about Pat, his association with the John A. DeBenedictis Baseball League and more importantly his baseball journey with his brother Alan.  Ben was kind enough to notify us about the article and Mike Newall and the Enquirer authorized our reprint.  You can read the story by clicking on the highlighted ‘Philadelphia Enquirer’ above.  You can also visit the paper’s website at www.phillynews.com.

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2019 70+ Wood

San Diego Mudcats 14, Philadelphia Phillies 2

‘Mudcats Win 65+ and 70+ Kickoff Classic Titles’

The San Diego Mudcats earned their second Las Vegas title in as many weeks with a 14-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies to capture the 70+ title in week two of the MSBL Las Vegas Kickoff Classic. The championship game started much the same as pool play game one as Mudcats starter John Hopkins faced the Philadelphia Phillies just as he had in the opener, a 12-9 complete-game victory.

It was a tight 1-1 ball game until the Mudcats pushed across four runs in the bottom of the third. Hopkins benefited from some good San Diego defense for six innings giving up only one unearned run when relieved by Jimmy Allen in the seventh.

After the Mudcats bats came alive scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth, the ‘Cats went for the mercy-rule knock-out in the bottom of the seventh when “Walk-off Windell” knocked in courtesy runner and tournament MVP Randall Kosecki, who went 4-4 in the championship game. MVP Kosecki was playing in his 32nd year as an MSBL player. Impressive series hitting was also recorded by Kenny McAtee (.733), Joe Kelleher (.727) and Bob Wengert (.727).

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2019 60+ Wood

Sacramento Tribe 7, San Antonio Lonestars 5

‘Weathers and Jungston Share MVP Honors’

Submitted by Joe Soto, Tribe manager

In a very exciting game, the national tournament powerhouse Sacramento Tribe defeated the San Antonio Lonestars 7 to 5 to capture the 60-over division title of the 2019 MSBL Las Vegas Kickoff Classic. The Tribe was led by the Mark Weathers, who went 4 for 4, Tommy Arguijo, 2 for 3, and Tim Burkitt, who contributed a key 2-run single.

2017 MSBL World Series Hall of Fame pitcher Gary Stonebrook pitched a complete game, striking out seven, while notching his second victory of the tournament. Aramaic picked up three hits for San Antonio. The win was the Tribes sixth win of the tournament, as they went a perfect 6 and 0 over the three days. They were led by Weathers and pitcher Ken Jungston, who pitched 16 innings giving up only one run. They were both picked as CoMvps.

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2019 45+ American

Chicago Royals 6, Colorado Bandits 5

‘Iron Man Trimarco Steps Up on the Bump’

The Chicago Royals overcame two severe injuries on their way to the MSBL Kickoff Classic 45+ American Division title. Shortstop Mark Cibrario was hit with a ball in game one and suffered a broken nose but returned for Monday’s semi-final and Championship games turning in stellar defense and solid hitting in the leadoff spot.

Second baseman Dennis Weiner was sorely missed after a collision in the semi’s resulting in a broken elbow but ‘Swiss Army’ Jose Sanchez stepped in. Jose started against the mighty Colorado Bandits in the championship game, who put up a 14 spot on the Royals Sunday. Sanchez dazzled, giving up just one earned run in five innings. The MVP of the tournament was Mike Trimarco who pitched all three days, going nine innings in the semi’s and the final four in the Championship.

Royals Manager Mike Torresso started the ninth inning with a base hit, took second on a wild pitch and third on an errant throw. After hot hitting Gerald Davis was walked intentionally, Jose Sanchez drove in the winning run on a fielder’s choice. Keith Otero and Rick Mallot each had an outstanding tournament.

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2019 50+ National

Boston Wolfpack 5, 3n2 Rangers 4

‘MVP Delgado Drives in Winning Runs in Walk-off Fashion’ 

Submitted by Sterling Endicott 

Things played out as the bookmakers expected with the MSBL Desert Classic Champions meeting up with the MSBL Holiday Classic Champions in the 50+ National Las Vegas Kickoff Classic finals.  And the game was an instant classic with the Boston Wolfpack coming from behind in the bottom of the ninth inning to snatch a 5-4 victory over the 3n2 Rangers.

Both teams went 3-0 in pool play and, as top seeds in their respective divisions, met up for the National Division final.  The Wolfpack jumped ahead early with three runs off of MLB All-Star Jeff Cirillo on hits by David Oliver and Russ Ward and a perfectly executed safety squeeze by David Benedict.  But the Rangers battled back with Mo Jackson tripling in two runs in the sixth off Wolfpack starter Jim Kearschner and two more in the seventh on a Phil Hayden triple to take the lead.  Boston’s chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh failed when Cirillo hustled after an errant throw and gunned down Mike Smith at the plate.

The bottom of the ninth started with back to back strike outs.  Then singles by Benedict and German Rivera set up the game’s final at bat with Jose Delgado crushing a 2-1 pitch to deep left field to plate the tying and winning runs.  Smith got the win with two innings of hitless relief.  Delgado went 3-4 in the game and took home MVP honors.

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2019 45+ National

Las Vegas Rattlers 5, Willamette Valley Hops 1

‘Dan Clemens Throws Complete Game Championship Victory’

Submitted by Manny Ocampo, Rattlers manager

The normal, very short, Las Vegas Rattlers pre-game meeting consisted of a very short manager speech…”You know you all love each other, so go out and show it by having fun!” That’s what was said and embraced by a team of very relaxed, but ready to WORK HARD ball players.

Wearing Black and Vegas Gold, on the Saturday afternoon of March 09, 2019, our first pool game was against the So Cal Trojans, with known former Pro and College players and fearing no one! Dan Clemens was on the hill for the Rattlers, throwing the first five innings, hopefully to warm up for highly anticipated Championship game on Monday.  The Rattlers showed their presence in the tournament with a 5-3 victory.

In game two of Pool Play against a very stacked Colorado Bandits team, it was a true slugfest, resulting in a 17-10 Rattlers win. Then on Sunday the Rattlers came from a deep hole to escape with an 11-9 victory over the Dallas Spirits.  The Spirits held an 8-0 lead throughout the first half of the game. But our Rattlers have faced adversity in the past and came back from that eight-run deficit to defeat the Spirits, finishing Pool Play as the #1 Overall Seed of the 45+ Division teams, landing the Las Vegas Rattlers a #1 Seed in the National Division spot, reserved for the top four teams.

That Sunday afternoon in the playoffs the Rattlers faced the big hitting OC Dodgers team, featuring their very strong and effective pitcher “Mario” on the hill. The Rattlers countered with Greg Shepard, with Kim Fuerniss behind the plate. The challenge was on, as the Rattlers hit first and hit hard, scoring five runs the first few innings of the game. They held the Dodgers to only two runs as “Shep” went the complete game, sending the Rattlers to the National Division Championship game with a 6-2 win over the OC Dodgers.

Monday, March 11th, at Heritage Park in Henderson, Nevada, the Las Vegas Rattlers took on a youthful looking and very talented Hops team from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Dan Clemens took the hill for home team Rattlers. The Hops scored the first run with three hits in the first inning but the Rattlers bit back and tie the game in the bottom of the first.

After many innings of play with the Rattlers consistently leaving runners on base, it was difficult to cash in as balls were driven directly at Hops players. However, giving credit where credit is due, the Hops had an outstanding defense. (who was that Right Fielder???)

Clemens grew stronger every inning on the hill for the Rattlers as the Rattlers did all weekend, they finally put runs together, scoring five total and holding the Hops down to only one. With a final score of 5-1 the Las Vegas Rattlers took the tough 2019 MSBL National Division Title!

Congrats to Dan Clemens, who went all nine, with Kim Fuerniss behind the plate, Alfonso “Junior” Gandara at third, Mike Stader at short, Jim Rini at second, Javier Arias at first, Dave Scaringe in left, Anthony Arenz in center, Mike Ryan and John Vidal sharing right field and Big Greg Shepard as our reliable designated hitter.  (one HBP, one walk and two stolen bases, then off to work after three innings of play…we won it for you Shep!).

I can’t tell you how proud I am of the above players and all of the Las Vegas Rattlers on the bench that helped us get to the finals!

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MSBL/MABL Welcomes the Palm Beach (FL) MABL League

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Good things come to those who wait.  We’ve all heard it.  But reality has kicked in for the Palm Beach MABL, as well as for the Men’s Senior Baseball League, as we have added another quality organization to our quiver.  The 20-year old league from Florida has come over to our family and will commence play under the MSBL banner beginning with their spring session on March 24th.  42-year old MSBL league and tournament veteran David Salley is the new league president, a position he acquired last fall.  “Our long-standing league president contacted me last fall, literally days before our fall session was to begin, and said he had to step down because of some personal family issues and maybe just a little bit of burnout.  He asked me to take over and I was happy to do so.  My immediate thought was ‘how can we make the league better’?  The answer was to become a part of the Men’s Senior Baseball League, so that’s where my efforts went.”

“MSBL/MABL is very appreciative of the confidence shown by Dave Salley in joining our National Organization,” stated MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler. “It’s a 2019 highlight already and we look forward to many more years of hosting teams at our new Palm Beach MSBL/MABL location!”

Dave was playing in the 2018 MSBL Fall Classic in Florida and approached tournament director Gary D’Ambrisi and explained the league situation and asked how they might explore becoming an MSBL affiliate.  That led to communication with MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler and the rest, as they say, is history.  “I was in the military in Virginia and played in an MSBL league and was always impressed by the organization,” explained Salley. “I have also played at the World Series in Arizona and in the Fall Classic, which is in our own back yard in Florida.  I’ll never forget our Daytona Beach Yankees team from 2006 at the World Series in the 18-over metal bat division.  We were 21-0 in the league and then undefeated at the World Series.  That was an amazing run.”

The league had 12 teams in the fall session in 2018 but the spring looks rosy, pardon the pun.  “We lost one team but gained three already so we will start the spring with at least 14 teams.  The league has generated so much new positive interest that we fully expect to be at 16 teams by the start of our Fall season.”

The Palm Beach League consists of two divisions, both technically in the 18-over category.  They are simply labeled the upper and the lower divisions.  “Our upper division is extremely competitive and maybe the most competitive, quality adult baseball in the state,” said David.  “Teams in that division incorporate ex-pros, college players and at the very least high school stars.  Each one of those teams carry pitchers who throw in the mid-eighties to low nineties.  That is what the players are looking for so that is what they get.  This is a quality MSBL league.”

Every league seems to have a powerhouse team that sets the bar.  The Palm Beach League is no different.  “Our Los Tigres team, managed by Santos Adames, has been in the league for over 20 years and they are the bench mark for playing in our upper division,” said Salley. “They have won 18 championships between our summer and fall sessions and are loaded with ex-pros from the Dominican Republic, several of which played in the Cardinals or Marlins systems.”

Salley continued, “Our lower division is also competitive but that is where you will find players that are a little older, still know their way around a diamond but have no interest in facing those guys. They’ve been there but feel it is time to shift gears.”

How about growth going forward?  “We are hopeful that we can expand to a 40-over division this fall.  We also hope to maintain a balance of new players coming into the league who want top-notch competition while creating a place to play some good baseball as some guys get a little older and no longer wish to catch up to a 90 mile per hour fastball.”

Dave’s day job is as a financial adviser so he inherently understands the economics and promotional aspects of the league.  “In the past there were literally no promotional efforts.  I see nothing but good things ahead because of all of the social media aspects at our disposal and our increased ability to attract quality ball players to our quality league.”

The Palm Beach MABL is looking to send a couple of teams to the MSBL Fall Classic this October/November and Dave also has his sights set on a possible World Series appearance soon.  “Our guys live literally fifteen minutes from the Fall Classic parks so it’s a natural fit,” says Salley.  “We are hoping to enter an 18-over and a 35-over team.  It’s a little more of a financial burden and commitment to fly to Arizona for a week, not that we don’t want to do it.  I’ve played there and there’s nothing like it.  But our teams don’t have sponsors or managers to foot the bill so it’s tough but not insurmountable.  We’ll get there!”

Dave’s wood bat league also offers playoffs as part of the restructure.  ‘We can promise at least a 20-game schedule in the spring and another 20 in the fall, not including playoffs.  That’s a lot of baseball.  We try not to schedule double headers because of the heat in the summer so scheduling can be tricky, especially when you factor in a steady stream of Florida rain.  But we’ll make it work.”

I asked David now that he has spent some quality time at the helm of the league, were there any words of wisdom to convey to players pondering the move to take charge or any advice for current presidents?  “I have found that you have to get to know the people around you,” he explained.  “Don’t just dictate but get in the trenches and take part.  It’s imperative to get to know your umpires and your field personnel and grounds crews.  These people can make the difference between playing on any given day or cancelling.  Don’t be a stranger or a voice on the other end of the phone.  Take part.  Also, learn all about social media.  That’s how you reach the players now.  A newspaper ad won’t do you any good.  Reach out and let them know they have an avenue directly back to you.”

Welcome aboard, Palm Beach MABL.  Everyone in the MSBL family is looking forward to seeing you somewhere in the dirt.  Have a wonderful 2019 campaign!

Here are links to their website and their Facebook page:

www.palmbeachbaseball.com

https://www.facebook.com/PalmBeachMABL/

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2019 65+ Wood

San Diego Mudcats 8, Paladin 4

‘Teeter Goes 17-22 for Tourney; Schmidt Earns MVP’

The San Diego Mudcats prevailed against two formidable opponents Monday, March 7, in the 2019 Las Vegas Classic playoffs. The Mudcats brought only 13 team members and two of them got injured. To win, the old team (five players over 70), matching up with great opposing defenses, would need some timely hitting.

The morning semi-final game featured the 2-seed Tri Valley Antiques versus the 3-seed Mudcats.  The Mudcats were looking for some symmetry after falling to the Antiques 4-2 in their first contest on a 3-run homer in the bottom of the seventh by the Antiques’ Dale Skinner. The Mudcats had led the whole way on a complete game gem by starter Billy Howard. In the playoff game the Mudcats took a 3-0 lead, giving it back in the third inning, then falling behind 7-3 in the fifth. However, the ne’er say die Mudcats scored two in the eighth and exploded for five runs in the ninth to earn a shot at the championship game, 10-7.

In the championship game, the Paladins drew first blood on a pair of first inning miscues. It would be another back-and-forth game. Mudcat starter Mike Livesey, who had just earned the win and pitched the final four innings of the semi-final match, went 3.1 innings giving up only the tainted first inning run. The other Mudcats workhorse, Mike Tricker, who started and pitched the first four innings of the morning game, completed the next 3.2 innings, also limiting the Paladins to just one run.

After the Mudcats scored two runs in the fourth inning to go ahead, the Paladin came back with one in the sixth to tie the game. The ‘cats struck once more in the seventh on a clutch two-out RBI single by iron man Chuck Schmidt and again in the eighth to take a 4-2 lead, only to give up two sun-aided runs in the eighth to tie the game at four apiece.

But in the top of the ninth, Mudcats’ Mike Tricker singled, Randy Kosecki capped his 4-4 day with a single and MVP Schmidt singled to load the bases. Pitcher Jim Teeter drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded shot to right-center field ending his weekend on a 17-for-22 tear.

The Mudcats scored four in the top of the ninth to increase the lead to four while in the bottom of the ninth Teeter closed the game with a strikeout and a game-ending double play up the middle and the trophy was secured.

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2019 35+ National

Michigan Bandits 13, Montebello Angels 11

‘Thorn, Bevis and Perez Lead Way on the Bump’

Submitted by Jeff Krejcik, Bandits manager

The Michigan Bandits compiled a 5-0 record on their way to winning the 35+ National Division of the 2019 Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas. Led by strong pitching and timely hitting the Bandits won their pool with a 3-0 record. In the semi-final game, the Bandits jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning against the Las Vegas Rattlers. The Rattlers battled back to make it a 2-run game in the ninth inning before the Bandits were able to close out the 8-6 victory. Todd Thorn was outstanding on the mound for the Bandits in his first outing of the season. At one point, Thorn retired 14 straight Rattlers en-route to his complete game victory. Offensively, the Bandits were led by Keith Perez with three hits and PJ Bevis, Matt Brady and Paul Allen with two hits each.

In the championship game against the Montebello Angels, the Bandits gave up two runs in the top of the first inning but quickly responded with a 6-spot in the bottom half of the inning. Starting pitcher PJ Bevis went a gutty 5 1/3 innings to claim his second win of the 3-day tourney. Keith Perez came on in relief to record the final 11 outs (5 via strikeout) and secure the 13-11 victory.

The save for Perez went along with his win in the opening game of the tourney. Offensively, Nick Gaudi got the scoring started with a 2-run double in the first inning.  Keith Perez, Mike Counihan and Barry Keith contributed three hits each, while Matt Brady added two more.  Not to be lost in all of the pitching and offensive highlights, the Bandits also played good defense behind their pitchers and Matt Brady was solid behind the dish in both the semi-final and final games.