By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
The Division 4 Baseball League ‘D4’ began in the minds of current 57-year old league president Paul O’Sullivan and his brother David while in the car driving home after a ball game. That was in the early summer of 2019. Their idea became a reality on July 8th, 2020 as they played their first game.
“We were wishing for a league for younger players that was focused on being the most competitive in the area and consisting of ex-college or experienced players who wanted stiff competition every week to keep their competitive juices flowing,” said Paul. “We wanted to attract the guy just out of college while promoting that our league would be very competitive and less recreational. It is meant for post college guys in their 20’s, though we advertise ages 18-49 to let guys know that older guys can play, too. We have a couple of pretty good players around 40 but they are mostly in their late 20’s to early 30’s.”
The D4 league is located in Brick, New Jersey and plays on Thursday nights. Brick is only 21 miles from Lacy Township where the Glory Days MSBL is located and where Paul used to play before D4 was born.
“It’s hard to get lighted fields in our area so we only play on Thursday nights. We have seven teams in the league so someone always gets a bye but that’s the only way to make the schedule work. The virus played a part, too, in that we lost two teams but then picked up two. For our first year we are pleased and only look to grow from here.
I had started Glory Days in 2011 and over the years came to realize that some teams were looking for a better level of play. I never forgot that and we finally decided to do something about it.”
Dan Romano is the co-founder and vice president of the league and John Sidway is the field director and player agent. Dan also runs the day to day operations, schedules umpires, recruits, and oversees communications. That leaves Paul to deal with the MSBL national office when necessary.
“Without the support of Dan, John and Steve and Brian Sigler we would be lost. We also need to thank our head umpire Greg Patella. This simply doesn’t work without a strong supporting cast,” stated O’Sullivan.
Added Dan Romano, “We need to mention all the managers who took a leap of faith and joined us for our inaugural season. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are. They are:
Howell Indians – Joe Picciolo
New Brunswick White Sox – Bill Leavy
Brick Dodgers – Phil Reina
Bayville Blues – Will Davis
Manchester Train Robbers – Joe D’Auria
Paul coaches the Brick A‘s and Dan coaches the Jackson Trash Pandas.
Paul also has a vision for his competitive guys to start hitting the national tournament trail and represent the league.
“I emphasize to our guys going to the MSBL World Series or Fall Classic. Maybe we can send a league team comprised of our best players. I think we could be very competitive. I have gone to Florida for just a couple of Fall Classics but have also been in Arizona during the World Series. Our guys are pumped to get there. I have an intern from University of Delaware helping to put together some tournament packages. He has been in touch with Steve Sigler and our tournament future looks good!”
What were some of the hurdles to overcome in starting a new league during these conditions?
“I guess just getting started was the biggest problem. Dan Romano kept in touch with everybody and we were transparent. We ended up starting about a month late and we didn’t know if we were going to have all the teams. So, staying in touch was the biggest challenge and keeping everyone informed. Once the games started everybody was fine.”
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a new league president?
“I enjoy hearing from players that I don’t even know about how much they like the league. Some teams were established in other leagues and they like the level of play without a lot of travel. They know we worked hard to get lighted fields so they could play during the week. Our players believe in our competitive concept and they let us know. We plan on being around for a while.”
Below are the coronavirus guidelines sent out to everyone by the league regarding adhering to mandated health issues:
Athletes, coaches, and umpires should wear face coverings when not actively participating in the field of play.
Anyone experiencing a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms must stay home.
Players must bring their own sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Hand sanitizing is strongly recommended.
No team water coolers or shared drink stations. Each person should bring individual water containers.
Players must refrain from “high fives”, handshake lines and other unnecessary physical contact.
All players must bring their own equipment (helmets, bats, gloves) and not share equipment with other players.
No spitting, eating seeds, gum or other similar products.
Players must spread out and adhere to six-foot social distancing practices and limit dugout use (there is plenty of room in “dead ball territory” for players to safely set up chairs and social distance from each other).
Parents/spectators must adhere to six-foot social distancing practices. This includes in and around bleachers for anyone not in the same family.
The MSBL Liability Release Waiver which includes extensive language for COVID-19 must be signed by all players and returned before a game is played by the individual.