Ken Menser: Vice President and 26-Year Success Story of the Indiana Baseball League

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Logo of Indiana Baseball League

Damon Grothe is the league president of the Indiana Baseball League located in and around IndianapolisSteve Sigler recently asked Damon for some recommendations of some of the impact members of the league whom we may wish to feature on the website as part of our 35th-anniversary celebration.  His response was swift.

Ken Menser is an individual who, up until this season, has run two teams as a player/manager, serves as the VP of the league, and has been a long-time board member,” said Damon.  “He is well respected, and think it would be nice to feature him.”

We took the bait, contacted Ken, and now will share Ken’s success story in Hoosier country.

“26 years ago, I was driving around and saw a banner that displayed a number to call if you want to play baseball,” started Menser.  “Wally Brandt was the President then and welcomed me with open arms.  I ended up managing the Titans in the 35+ division for 22 years after initially playing for just a few years.  Our final season as a team was in 2022, but we won three championships in 2016, 2017, and 2018.”

So, what does a 57-year-old guy do after spending over two decades with a single team?

“This year, I am only playing in the 45+ division with the Reds as the player/manager, specifically as a catcher.  I have played with them for about ten years, so it’s not exactly new, but worrying about only one team is certainly a change.”

Damon mentioned that Ken was an integral part of the league as a whole.  I asked Ken specifically what his duties include as Vice President of the league.

“I was the 35+ Director for about eight years and transitioned to the league Vice President role when Damon became President last year. My role as VP involves supporting Damon and the league directors, and I am the chair of the rules committee.  I also routinely spend time maintaining the mound and plate for one of our diamonds used by the league.” 

The Indiana Baseball League consists of four divisions; 18+, 25+, 35+, and 45+.  But they are hoping to involve a 55+ division later this year, and Ken is right in the middle of the effort.

“Everyone likes the idea of adding that division, and we’re all getting older, so it’s a natural transition.  It looks promising, as we already have four interested teams.  We’ll see if we can begin to play yet this year, but 2024 looks like a sure bet.”

Growing up in nearby Greenfield, Indiana, Ken was a ball player in high school and played one year at Butler University, where he obtained his degree as a pharmacist but was relegated to softball ‘back in the day.’  That eventually led to that fateful day when he saw the Indiana Baseball League banner.  Along the way, he married his wife of 29 years, Kathy, and they share their lives with their sons, John and Jacob.

With such a busy schedule, are you able to get away to participate in any MSBL national or regional tournaments?

“In 2022, I played in the 52+ tournament at the Phoenix MSBL World Series. Bob McPike plays in our Indy league, and he organized the team for the tournament. There were a few guys from Indy on the team, but most of the roster was made up of players that Bob had met in tournaments over the years.  They were from all over the place (Chicago, California, Arizona, and other places). That’s where I caught seven games in five days. I still don’t know how I did it!

Indianapolis has its annual Labor Day Tournament, and I have played there only once.  I have played in Columbus once and also made it to Florida for the Fall Classic once.  It’s hard to keep all of our guys together for tournaments.”

What is the best thing about the Indiana Baseball League, and who are some of the people who have helped you along the way?

“I love seeing the league grow, keeping them away from softball, and joining the league.  I have cemented so many relationships within the league and have gotten to know so many people over the years.  I have made good friends on and off the field from all walks of life, and I love mingling with everyone.

I need to primarily thank Wally Brandt for getting me into the league all those years ago.  I played for his team for the first two years.  Past president John DeCosta and I became really good friends.  Damon took over from John.  Don Pollard, as a manager in the league, is a real competitor and an asset to the league.  Ray Starnes and Kevin Dodson are truly special friends, but Kevin was unfortunately lost last year to a heart attack.

One very special person to me was Wayne Edwards, who passed away a few years back.  He was League President, and we had an adversarial relationship for many years, but it was built on respect.  He got me on the board originally, and we used to go skiing together.  He is missed.  Our league is better because of these people.”

As if Ken’s plate were full enough, he wanted me to be sure to mention the successes of the local Bishop Chatard High School Trojans, where Ken serves as assistant varsity coach.

“During the spring, I serve as an assistant varsity coach for the Bishop Chatard High School Trojans baseball program under head coach Mike Harmon. The Trojans made an amazing run in the post-season this year. We won our Sectional, Regional, and our first game at Semi-State. We lost in the Semi-State final to the eventual State Champions, Silver Creek. I am very proud to be a part of the program. We weren’t supposed to make it out of our Sectional, but the team came together at the right time.”

There is a lesson there, regardless of where you play or in which age division.  Keep plowing away, and good things happen.  Any final words, Ken?

“I appreciate Steve Sigler giving us old guys a place to play baseball.  Without MSBL, I would hate to think I’d still be playing softball.”

Well said, Ken.  I do not doubt that thousands of ex-softballers within the MSBL ranks share your sentiment.