By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
(Action photos courtesy of Michael Hildebrandt)
The Greater Philadelphia MABL is a league where teams and players get to participate in unique and exciting events, and even make dreams come true. The GPMABL division is for players 23-over and the GPMABL Classic division is for players 35 and over.
“This year we ended up with two teams in the 23-over division and six in the 35+ Classics division and kicked off July 5th,” explained 51-year old league president Brett Mandel. “We started with four teams in the junior circuit and eight in the Classic but the virus took its toll with teams being a little afraid to push on. Our younger guys play their games on Sunday mornings and the older division is on Sunday nights so that we can all stay connected with the family all weekend. It works well. We’ll get back up there with the number of teams next year for sure.”
The Greater Philadelphia league came into existence in 2001 and Brett has been in charge since day one. He continues to play and manage the 2019 league champion Bears in the 35+ division. He is also a regular at the MSBL World Series in Arizona, having attended every year since 2008.
“It’s always the best week of the year. I can’t wait to get to Arizona every fall.”
How has the virus impacted his finally getting back on the field when dealing with multiple states and their playing fields?
“The city of Philadelphia does things differently than the counties, which ended up with none of our regular city fields being available. Here in our area we are just a short trip from New Jersey and Delaware so we get players from everywhere. They all have different rules from Pennsylvania.
You have to wear a mask if you are outside Pennsylvania so for game situations anybody around the plate, they have to wear a mask but in Delaware they say the catcher has to wear a mask but the umpire has to be behind the pitcher. I wish there were one set of rules but there is no national mandate so we deal with it.”
The GPMABL usually finishes their league and playoffs by Labor Day for one very good reason.
“When the Eagles start playing football everyone’s focus changes. We can’t compete with them so we stopped trying. A bunch of us go to the World Series in Arizona so we’ll continue to work out and get ready but we’d never be able to create a successful fall league.”
What has been the hardest part of dealing with the virus?
“Since there was no supreme guidance from the government we had to use our own discretion. Dealing with three different states and trying to come up with a safe set of rues was very difficult. It would have been a lot easier, even if the decision wasn’t what you wanted to hear, if rules would have been set forth, whatever they said. It sounds crazy but if you have no choice, you have no problem.”
What is the most enjoyable part of running a league?
“I truly believe that nobody else would be running the league in a way that would better. We are organized and it is easy to play in our league. The fact that the way we run our league is as good as anybody might be able to do it is very satisfying.
It amazes me to think about how many games I have played in men’s leagues. When most folks were hanging up their spikes, I began my adult-baseball career and it has stretched into three decades. It is a very special thing to grow old together with a bunch of guys who stay young by playing baseball.”