Joe Viau is the league president of the Northeast Wisconsin MSBL, located in and around Green Bay smack in the middle of Packer country. Joe will turn 75 years ‘young’ this May and is at the helm once again heading up this eight team gem that he began in 2006 under the MSBL banner. “I had been playing baseball in the Green Bay area since 1994 and then I heard about MSBL,” Joe explained. “So in 2005 I made up some fliers and put some up at the local batting cage and we came up with four teams and began in 2006.” Below is a copy of one of Joe’s original fliers from 20 years ago. He has dusted it off and placed it on their Facebook page to try to get additional interest.
But this is only part of Joe’s storied history with MSBL. “I lived in Conifer, Colorado in 1989 when I started playing in the Denver MSBL after responding to an ad in the Denver Post. I went to Arizona for the MSBL World Series for the first time in 1990 and the rest is history.” This year Joe is celebrating his 25th trip to the dry heat of Arizona as the pilot of Team America, a team that will make its appearance once again in the 60 and 65-over divisions. Joe enjoys being in charge, though his playing days are unfortunately behind him.
“We don’t have a lot of rings but we assemble players who love the game and want to play,” said Viau. “We aren’t real choosy about who plays. They pay a lot of money to get here and they all deserve to play. We don’t fly guys in for the sake of a championship. It’s for the love of the game and that’s why I enjoy managing Team America.
Joe’s accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed by MSBL Founder and President SteveSigler. Joe was inducted into the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame in 2009, the MSBL Honor Roll in 2013 and is also a member of the MSBL Hall of Fame, an honor achieved in 2014. “I am extremely honored to having bestowed these awards on Joe,” explained Steve Sigler. “He is one of the most giving men in MSBL and a wonderful organizer and very deserving!” Added Viau, “MSBL gives guys a chance to play. I am happy to be a part of the organization and very honored to receive these awards from Steve Sigler and MSBL.”
Joe has accumulated 25 years of memories from our World Series. I asked him if one event stood out. His response was instantaneous. “One of our players on Team America is Bob Davidson, who is now 75,” Joe pointed out. He and his wife were on their way to the airport in 2014 in Arizona when they were in a terrible car accident. The crash killed his wife and Bob was in bad shape. It looked like he would never walk again and wore a brace from ICU along with a body brace. Then he started walking again and had physical therapy and in 2015 he played again for us in Phoenix at the World Series and again last year. I hope he can make it this year, too. Bob lives in Michigan, 150 miles from Wisconsin, but drives to play in our league. Bob is an inspiration to us all.”
What is so special about playing for 25 years at the MSBL World Series? “I have enjoyed playing against players from all over the world,” said Viau. “I have played against guys from Canada, France, the Virgin Islands, Australia and even a Dutch team. They gave us wooden shoes as a souvenir.” There have also been opponents from Korea. “The camaraderie and the family atmosphere is what the World Series is all about, in my opinion.”