Gary Garrett, Central Arkansas MSBL: An Arkansas ‘Diamond’ in the Rough

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

The Central Arkansas MSBL, now headed up by Stephen King, has been around since 1989 and is based in Little Rock.  The 68 -year-old physical therapist Gary Garrett has been a part of that league for 19 of those years, as well as being an MSBL World Series participant for the same 19 years, primarily as a member of the always competitive Arkansas Diamonds.

“I didn’t start playing baseball again until I was 50,” stated Garrett.  “A friend told me about the league and I dug in.  I am like a gym rat.  When I commit to something, it is at full speed.  I have never missed a game or a practice in 19 years.  I love it!”

Gary plays for the Yankees in the Central Arkansas 25-over format, so Gary gives up a few years to the youngsters. 

“I play alongside my two nephews on the Yankees and we were in the thick of it this year but lost in the finals to the White Sox.  My nephew pitched for the Razorbacks in college and still brings it at 92 (mph).  I love being with them on and off the field.  I remember working with them when they were little kids!”

Regarding Gary’s involvement with the Diamonds at the MSBL World Series every year, his roots go all the way back to a Little League buddy.

John Godfrey is the coach of the Diamonds and John and I played together in Little League 60 years ago!  It was a no-brainer to take part when John asked me to play.  It was a thrill of a lifetime to win the 60+ Central ring for John in 2014!”

Some years the league has as many as a dozen teams but this year they have settled on nine.  Gary’s Yankees have been a part of the league since day one.  Gary continues to roam center field, bats lead-off, and still has the wheels to master both.  He also occasionally toes the rubber.

Along with that, Gary isn’t some weekend warrior that plays ball once a week and spends the rest of the week watching it on the tube or bellying up to the burrito buffet.

“I have run 23 marathons and will be running in one this March.  I don’t ever quit and like to stay active.  I love stealing bases and still have a pretty fair arm.  I think that running eight miles per day keeps me in the running game on the diamond, too.  I’m still only carrying 160 pounds on a six-foot frame so even though I may not be hitting them out, I can contribute in other ways.”

Regarding his league team, the Yankees, Ted Carroll is technically the manager and Gary coaches third to help him out.  Ted’s dad, Brian, coached the Diamonds in Arizona, along with John Godfrey.  Is there a favorite Arizona World Series moment as a member of the Diamonds?

“The 2014 championship is hard to top as a team accomplishment but I remember a personal moment that took place in a stadium a few years back, though I don’t remember which stadium.  I hit a grand slam home run that consisted of a hard grounder down the line that just kept rolling into the far corner.  I was able to come in standing up!

Regarding a special moment in the league, back in 2009, I was voted on the All-Star team at 55 years old.  The other two outfielders were 25 and 26 years old.  I was older than the two of them combined!  Nothing beats my being able to play alongside my nephews, though.”

Any final thoughts and advice?

I am so glad to have made hundreds of friends I would never have met if it were not for MSBL.  I have competed against players from other countries and states and also play against guys I played in little league, pony league, and high school. 

I still remember that All-Star game in 2009 when some guys said they wish they could play like me.  That made my day.  Don’t ever stop or you’ll lose it.  At 50 I started running marathons and now I can’t stop.  Don’t stop playing because when you quit, it’s over.  I still play with guys in their 20s but I also enjoy playing with guys who were alive when Elvis died! (1977).