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Do You Have a Story to Tell?  We Want to Hear It

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Baseball is upon us all, one way or the other.  Some warm weather leagues are underway while others are working out as a Memorial Day opening day looms.  Stories are being created, pictures and videos are being taken and the Men’s Senior Baseball League wants to share your experience.

Yes, this is a tried and true plea that I continually place in front of you but the thing to consider is that the MSBL is a fraternity of men and women who share in a passion for our great game and a desire to know what their family is up to.

I post many different topics on the Website, Facebook, Twitter and in our newsletters.  I have found that the types of stories that resonate more than any others are about our members, their teams and their leagues.  If you have an interesting story to tell on a personal or ‘on the field’ level please shoot me an email at msbllamontia@aol.com.  I’ll get back to you right away and we’ll see what we can accomplish together to share your story or pictures.

Good luck this year and we hope to see you in the dirt somewhere.  Thank you all for making the MSBL the number one adult baseball organization in the country.  Without you there would be no us.  Take care and play safe!

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Tucson MSBL League President Kirk Jacobs Passes Away at 41


Obituary for Kirk Jacobs

It is with great sadness that the family of Kirk Jacobs announces his sudden passing on March 23, 2019 at the age of 41. Kirk is survived by his wife Stephanie and their children Madeline and Kameron. Kirk was born on April 12, 1977 to Gene and Phyllis Jacobs in Silver City, NM. Kirk’s love of baseball began at the young age of 5 when he started playing t-ball then continued with little league, senior league and high school baseball. Kirk graduated from Silver High School in 1995. He continued his education with Eastern New Mexico University, Dodge City Community College and finished at the University of Mary with his Master’s in Management in 2001.

Kirk was able to pursue his love of playing baseball at the collegiate level all while earning his education. Kirk met his wife Stephanie while attending the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. The couple then moved to Fargo, ND while Stephanie was finishing her doctorate degree at North Dakota State University. Kirk and Stephanie united in marriage on January 3, 2004 and made their first home in Fargo. Kirk joined the Brewers baseball team and earned a team of lifelong friends. He pursued his career with Border States Electric in Fargo until they moved to Arizona in 2005.

Kirk was able to reunite with high school friends and follow his passion of playing baseball by joining Tucson MSBL and ultimately becoming the league President. In 2017, Kirk joined Arizona Sun Sales as an outside Sales Representative where he was currently employed. Kirk’s family and friends will always remember him for his kindness, generosity and competitive spirit. His overwhelming passion for baseball was magnetic. Kirk was an avid all-around sports fan as he truly loved all sports. However, his favorite teams were the Denver Broncos and the New York Yankees. His enthusiasm towards sports has transferred to his children as you can always catch them playing football, baseball or impersonating Giancarlo getting a home run.

Kirk is survived by his wife Stephanie, children Madeline and Kameron, mother (Phyllis Jacobs), mother in-law and father in-law (Robert and Bobbie Shelstad), brother in-law and sister in-law (Allen and Kristen Schimmel), niece (Riley), nephew (Bodee), lifelong best friend (Johnny Ray Flores), and numerous baseball friends that he considered family. He was preceded in death by his father (Gene Jacobs), grandparents (BC and Madeline Jacobs, Phil and Barbara Laws). Memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 29, 2019 at Adair Funeral Homes-Avalon Chapel, 8090 N. Northern Ave. Oro Valley, AZ. Reception will be held following the service.

To send flowers to the family of Kirk Jacobs, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.

Added MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler, “Anytime we lose an MSBL member, it greatly touches me. Especially a league President who was so young, energetic, dedicated and passionate.  I was just getting to know Kirk better as we shared weekly texts, conversations and emails not only on league matters but personal, too.

The Tucson MSBL has a three-decade history of success, including thousands of men who once again thrive(d) in adult baseball.  MSBL is a fraternity.  It is really difficult to write this knowing he had two small children.  I share your sadness on his loss.”

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Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL): How it Has Changed the Game

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

I love reading baseball books.  My current read is ‘The Arm’ by Jeff Passan, written in 2016.  No, I am not endorsing the book nor recommending you purchase it.  Occasionally I run across amazing statistics that are guaranteed to entice a ‘say what?’ response or potentially an even more graphic one.  Before dozing off and laying in bed reading about pitcher’s arms who qualify as freaks of nature, I realized that I needed to share a few tidbits.

Briefly, this book chronicles the current climate of winning at all costs and what this has done to young and advanced teenage arms as they continue to be pushed by some coaches and parents to throw harder and longer.  Tommy John surgery has become common place, as even sixteen-year olds are having this surgery to save a potential million-dollar arm that was abused by an over-zealous travel or showcase team.  But that determination is not mine to make nor am I taking a stance.  Heck, if I possessed a 96 MPH arm at seventeen years old I would have done anything to be front and center, too.

To begin, here are some amazing stats that have been compiled by Jeff Passan and his staff.

The first baseball game was played in 1846 and a new rule was implemented in 1884 allowing a pitcher to throw overhand, which began our next 135 years of chronicled elbow trouble.  Before elbow ligament problems were even diagnosed, which has happened within our generation, there were guys who just went out and pitched through the pain and just assumed it was the price of doing business.

One example of this was ‘Old Hoss’ Radbourn who tool advantage of the new ‘overhand’ rule in 1884.  Before that time you could only throw underhand or sidearm.  He pitched nearly every one of his Providence Grays games that year in the National League (though not 154 or 162 games) while winning 59 games and throwing 678 2/3 innings, of which neither mark will ever be reached again.

On to more modern times, Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer hurt his arm in 1965 (rotator cuff) but the sports medicine surgery still wasn’t in place like today.  He was told to go to Puerto Rico and throw all winter to work it out!  Palmer told them what to do with their idea and went to a pharmaceutical company friend who told him to take three anti-inflammatory pills per day.  His fastball went from an injured 80 mph to 95 mph and the Hall of Fame.  Amazing.

The risky and fragile Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) is located in the elbow and is what needs to be repaired when you hear of Tommy John surgery.  Thanks to Dr. Frank Jobe and his courage to try an experimental procedure on then Dodger Tommy John in 1974, they have now shifted the landscape from a 1 in 100 chance of success to a current hourly cattle call of patients to doctors across the country.  Dr. Jobe was quoted as saying to Tommy John, as he was being sedated on the table, “Tommy, I don’t know what I’m doing.”  Well, he knew what he was doing and what took four hours on that day is now an hour-long procedure followed by a 12 to 18-month rehab.  Super-agent Scott Boras has called the procedure ‘a rite of passage’ and likened it to an oil change and not to be feared in changing the value of the recipient as being perceived as damaged goods.

Sandy Koufax had to retire at the age of 30 because of bone chips and also shoulder problems because his generation didn’t have the tools to keep him going while doing everything he possibly could to pitch every five days, or even more frequently.  In between starts his elbow would balloon to cartoonish proportion because of all of the fluid congregating in the elbow joint.  The Dodger trainer had to insert a needle to drain the fluid before he pitched.  This was caused by three or four spiky bone spurs, that weren’t operated on.  He would take the anti-inflamatory Butazolidin the day before, the day after and the day of his start.  This drug is intended for horses and has since been banned for human consumption.  Koufax also had the trainers slip on their rubber gloves and slather on tons of Capsolin on his shoulder and arm.  Capsolin includes the active ingredient found in chili peppers, turpentine, camphor oil and other elements meant to punish the body with heat.  Koufax needed this to manage his misery.  This was no Ben Gay topical we old guys use!  His after-game routine of his elbow submerged in the ice bucket, alongside the beer in the clubhouse, is legendary.

What I am trying to summarize is that some of the old war horses endured a lot of pain and misery since they didn’t have the solutions the youngsters of today have at their disposal.  But is it right to subject our young arms to the stress of more, more, more?  I have no idea.  But the statistics show that a college pitcher who throws 95 MPH or better has a 27% chance of having Tommy John surgery the next year and then there is no guarantee that you will ever reach that velocity again.  I am well beyond 20 years of age and my crooked elbow that resembles a dog’s hind leg can’t break a pane of glass any more.  Would I have pushed even harder knowing that I could have the elbow or shoulder fixed like having an oil change?  Maybe.

I hope some of this is interesting to you.  ‘The Arm’ goes into terrific detail and even into the operating room.  It should be required reading for any elite-player or showcase team parent of a young teenager and also the athletes themselves.  That would at least provide you with the details to answer your multi-million dollar question on how hard to push.  Good luck!

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MSBL National and Regional Memorial Day Tournaments Approaching in Las Vegas, San Diego and Atlanta

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

There are three national and regional tournaments in Las Vegas, San Diego and Atlanta coming up over the Memorial Day holiday.  Now is the time to throw your hat in the ring and get tuned up as leagues are set to begin all across the country.  Below is what’s on tap!

 

MSBL Las Vegas Open: May 25-27…18+, 25+, 35+, 45+, 50+, 55+, 60+

Contact MSBL office: 631-753-6725 or info@msblnational.com

 

San Diego Memorial Day Classic: May 25-27…60+, 65+

Contact Jim Teeter: 858-999-5141 or teeterjs@aol.com 

 

Billy Townsend Memorial Day Wood Bat Tournament: May 25-17…18+, 30+, 40+, 50+

Contact Don Pike: 770-595-5120 or Dpike3163@aol.com

 

Here is the link to the tournament page on the national website to learn more about these tournaments and any other tourneys coming up in 2019.  Play safe!

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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!