Gary Whitney, San Antonio MSBL: From 2015 Rookie Player/Manager to World Series Champion and Fantasy Camp Finalist
By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Skip Bradley is the League President of the San Antonio MSBL and he piped in when Steve Sigler asked some presidents who some of the movers and shakers were in the leagues so that we could include their stories as part of our 2022 35th anniversary year.
Skip wasn’t too elaborate in his response. It was basically ‘Call Gary Whitney. Here’s his number.’ I finally hooked up with Gary and told him I was a little unsure where to start but his opening statement pretty much set the tone.
“I am a 64-year-old lefty, played a ton of basketball, my knees are shot, so I took up baseball in 2015 at the urging of my girlfriend so that I would have something to do.” I could see where this was headed.
Gary is a driven individual. He may not be hitting in the three-hole or the guy on the bump to close out a game, but NOBODY has worked harder on their game with an amazing drive to become better every week, month, and year.
“I contacted then league president Jerry Spencer in San Antonio in 2015 to see if I could play on a team and he said that Skip Bradley was short guys and needed someone,” said Whitney. “My first game ever was in the Texas Cup tournament in Austin. A real baptism by fire.”
Gary relayed his first game of baseball in decades.
“I was the traditional guy batting last and playing right field. I couldn’t hit worth a darn. The game was tied going into our last at-bat and I came up with nobody on and instructions to bunt. I got it down and they threw it away and I went to third. I still had wheels, which is about all I could bring to the team back them. Then Skip called for a suicide squeeze, it worked, I scored, and we won the game. It was a great way to start a relationship.”
This brings us to why Skip recommended we speak with Gary. His desire to work hard, get better and give 1,000% every inning of every game is a poster child for the perfect teammate. He works even harder between games.
“There is a D Bats facility nearby and I was going there weekly for lessons. I would throw, hit, grab anyone I could to play catch with, and learn the game. I went out and bought a net to throw to at home and found a Bryce Harper hitting machine. I have done that for years and it is paying off. I may not be the best player on the team, but I no longer embarrass myself.”
What Gary brings from right field is amazing in itself.
“I back-up every play at first and I am always trying to throw guys out at first base after base hits to right. I run hard after every ball. In one game I was able to throw out seven guys at first base from right field! That’s my way of helping the team. I try to do things the right way and hope it becomes infectious. I know Skip appreciates the hustle.”
As Gary’s career has taken root, he has also added pitching and left-handed catching to his arsenal.
“I wanted to learn everything about every position. I am a sponge and want to absorb everything. I love being involved in the game from behind the plate. You are more involved back there than in right field.”
Fast forward to October 2022 and you can see how the long journey and hard work have paid off. Gary was asked to be a part of the national powerhouse San Antonio Lonestars of the 60+ National Division of the MSBL World Series. They are one of the top teams in the top division of one of the top age brackets. This is truly an elite assignment.
“I was approached by Bill Rector (manager) to be a part of the team last summer. It was explained to me that this is a top-tier competition and every game will be tough and meaningful. I was so honored and couldn’t wait to be a part of a team that plays against college veterans, ex-pros, and all-around great players.”
So, how did it go?
“I knew going in that I was there to help any way I could but wouldn’t be a part of the regular lineup. I warmed up the corner outfielder between innings, warmed up pitchers, rooted everyone on, played long toss before games, and whatever was necessary. I got a few at-bats, got a hit, and am thrilled and can’t wait to get back there. I do everything for the challenge. I had been to a couple of World Series’ but this one was definitely different. I got a ring in the top division so I feel very fortunate.”
Back home in San Antonio, in 2022 Gary plays in the league in the 38-over, 50-over, and 60-over divisions. This year the team that he manages, the 60+ Athletics, will combine with another team and play in the ’50s.
After a long year of some quality baseball and improvement, it was time for some fun. Gary attended his first ever A’s Fantasy Camp in January 2023 in beautiful Mesa, Arizona, the spring training site for Oakland and one of the homes of the MSBL World Series.
“I had Dave Stewart behind me watching me pitch, I was throwing to Dallas Braden (A’s perfect game in 2010), Carney Lansford and Terry Steinbach were my team’s coaches, and Barry Zito was my locker mate. I ended up catching almost every inning. That’s tough to beat!”
Ask asked previously, how did it go?
“Our team went undefeated but lost in the final game. I started 0-5 at the plate but switched bats and burned the centerfielder with the bases loaded. But we were so far behind, it didn’t matter. I even played some short and pitched. I probably won’t go back but it was sure fun.”
Did any highlight stick out?
“I don’t know if this is a highlight, but in one of the games I was the runner at first with no outs and our guy hit a comebacker. The pitcher threw home, then it went to first, but I just kept running and eventually got thrown out at home after a rundown. A triple play on a grounder to the pitcher! The Kangaroo Court fined me the next day for their first-ever conviction of ‘reckless baserunning!’