Dan Saban: Last Original Member of the Arizona MSBL (1988)
By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Soon-to-be 67-year-old Dan Saban has the distinction of being the oldest member of the very successful Arizona MSBL, founded in 1988. Dan is still very active as a member of the Pirates in the 60-over division in the league, where he is currently batting a scorching .708, and has some impressive roots as a participant in the MSBL World Series in Arizona his backyard.
“We played in the very first World Series as the Phoenix 40’s and went undefeated,” explained Saban. “The only problem was that San Jose and South Dakota were also undefeated and for reasons I can’t remember, they played in the championship game. I think then it was based on runs scored but I don’t remember. The one thing I do remember is that I haven’t missed a year yet!”
As Dan grew a bit longer in the tooth so did the divisions he played in. They became the Phoenix 50’s (out of necessity!) and now Dan is looking forward to suiting up with Berry’s in the 65’s in 2022.
“Over the years of playing in every World Series, I have played with the Arizona White Sox, Berry’s, Team Cocchia, and the Arizona Angels back in the early 90s. I have accumulated about a half dozen rings along the way and I’m sure I have forgotten some of the teams over the past 30 years or so. But I have loved every minute.”
Being that Dan is the oldest member in the league, it must be an interesting story regarding how he became involved.
“I just want to say thank MSBL for bringing adult baseball to Arizona on a large scale. It all started when I heard about the new league that was starting in Phoenix. I was at the original draft at the Crescent Hotel in Phoenix back in 1988 and the league began by drafting people out of a hat, by position. We ended up with eight teams from that draft, which was a lot of players.
I was excited to go to our first practice and my wife knew I was. After meeting all of the guys and having a good work out I headed home. Upon getting home my wife asked me how was practice and what did the team look like. I told her that practice was fun. But as far as the team went, I explained to her that we had a left-handed catcher and the best hitter on the team had only one arm. But it was baseball and we were playing again!”
When did you start playing baseball and what are your roots?
“I grew up in Central Illinois and of course played ball constantly, like so many other MSBL members. I was lucky in that my dad played professionally in the Senator’s organization with the Charlotte Hornets. So, I not only had baseball blood in my veins, I grew up knowing people like Killebrew and Oliva! My father came to many of my MSBL games and I know it brought him great joy before he passed.”
Are there any special takeaways from your league or World Series days there in Arizona?
“I remember one time in the early 90s we were playing an All-Star game at Sun City Stadium, which was then the home of the Brewers. Even though the game was at 7:00 pm, it was 121 degrees at game time! Then there were fireworks after the game and you guessed it, they set the hillside on fire. We still refer to that as being the game of fireworks and fire trucks!”
Any other special moments?
“In the early days I was with the Astros and we were playing the Padres and one of their guys knew Bob Costas and he happened to be in town for something and asked his friend on the Padres if he could play. We all agreed, of course, and Bob played second base and loved it. Afterward, we all went out for a drink and he explained how hard it is for him to do that sort of thing unnoticed. He said to us ‘thanks for letting me be just a guy for a day.’ It really meant something special to him. That was a great experience.
I also want to thank Steve Sigler for providing the foundation that has allowed me to live out my dream, albeit as just an amateur. Thank you!”