Mark ‘Zubi’ Zubizarreta brings ‘Friendly Baseball’ to Fort Worth
By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Mark ‘Zubi’ Zubizarreta plays in the 12-team Fort Worth MSBL for the Fireflies, a team he helped start. In his day job he works for the Department of Homeland Security and is also a traveling representative for a phone company. In the league, he holds down the position of Vice President of Community Development. It’s amazing that he found the time to chat for a while on the phone, but it was well worth it, as I am extremely impressed with what he is doing to bring baseball into the lives of everyone in the community.
League President Jon Beggerly offered the following glowing introduction:
“I would recommend a gentleman named Mark “Zubi” Zubizarreta from our league. We added him to our Board of Directors this season in the position of VP of Community Development. He helps us tack down local high school fields for the league, manages our league roster, and is the grease guy that keeps things moving for us and jumps in on just about any task. Zubi is the guy that led the FWMSBL-backed Panthers team to play in the Field of Dreams tournament in Iowa last fall. He also frequents several Play at the Plate events.
Outside of his league contributions, Zubi is doing amazing things for the baseball community in Fort Worth. He has been running his Friendly Baseball organization since 2012 bringing sandlot baseball to participants of all skill levels. Each week he hosts a pickup game at a local high school where anyone can take the field and play ball. They pick teams before each game at the backstop, then you pitch to your own team. It is a great way to get people back into the game or give someone a shot who has never had the opportunity.
The FWMSBL is able to send guys not quite ready for our league to Friendly Baseball or bring in the regulars from Friendly to our free agent pool to fill spots for our teams. It is a good partnership. He has built something truly remarkable for the Fort Worth baseball community and is a wonderful asset to the FWMSBL.”
‘Zubi’ is a 28-year-old who finally found the time to play baseball once again in 2016 in the Fort Worth MSBL, beginning with the Lonestars, Jon Beggerly’s team.
“My main role for the league is making sure they are in compliance with insurance and all league rules. I oversee the rosters and watch everyone in the league and make sure only activated players are on the field. Nobody can be added after Wednesday night and their rosters are posted online and they have to comply on game night. It really cuts down on potential illegal players.”
We asked Mark what is the best thing about his league?
“Accessibility, meaning our league is accessible to anyone at any skill level. We aren’t an elite league and not a good old boys club that only picks up the best new players. All teams have a sprinkling of various skills and it opens up new players of any skill level.
So, tell me about Friendly Baseball.
“Friendly Baseball is something I created 11 years ago in 2012. We meet at the ball field and everyone plays on a donation basis. It’s like the old schoolyard days of picking teams and you pitch to your own team. Everyone switches positions at any time and everyone plays for fun. We do this every Monday night, April through October, and we usually see about 30 players every week.
The donations help with the league funding all year and is a great feeder to get people into the league, if they wish for more. They learn to play and morph into the league. We encourage young and old and even have our own Facebook Page.”
As if Mark’s plate was not already full, he organized a trip to the Field of Dreams in Iowa in 2022 for the Fort Worth Panthers.
“It was definitely the trip of a lifetime. I highly encourage anyone interested to find a way to make the trip. You won’t regret it.”
I asked Mark if he had any plans to make it to either our MSBL World Series or Fall Classic.
“I haven’t yet, but that is definitely on our team radar, and on my personal bucket list. We have a girl catcher in the league who played for Team USA (Anna Kimbrell) and is a fantastic player. She is attempting to introduce more girls into the league and possibly form a team to compete in these tournaments. League expansion is certainly something we talk about, and that includes playing in those tourneys.”