MSBL Baseball Pioneer: Ed Cantor, Long Island Midweek MSBL

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Ed Cantor is a real gem.  That is especially accurate since he has also been a jeweler in New York for the past 45 years.  The 70-year-old Cantor is also one of the original members of the Long Island Midweek MSBL and remains league president Tim Hott’s right-hand man.

“Tim has told me I am the assistant commissioner, which probably stands for someone who does what he’s told while staying away from the really tough decisions,” laughed Cantor.  “I am not sure when that official title started but I am happy to be of help.  At my age, I’m simply happy to still be playing our great game.”

Ed’s remarks are that of a humble man who is downplaying the spotlight but his story is quite layered and remains so.  As a catcher, pitcher, and occasional third sacker, he continues to play on three teams in the league and gives up quite a few years to the other members, including playing and managing the 45-over Mets.

“I’m not the oldest in the league, as I think there is someone 72 still at it.  But I’m right up there.  As long as I can still make all of the plays, I’ll keep playing.  That point hasn’t come yet.  I recently caught all 14 innings for our 52-over Mets team and then threw a seven-inning game.  I’m not quite ready for full-time golf!”

Ed’s journey to the Long Island Midweek MSBL wasn’t the typical journey, thanks in a large part to his brother.

“As a 35-year-old kid, I found baseball again. 35 years ago, my brother sent me to a Mets ‘Dream Week.’  I was hooked on baseball once again.  Sure, I had the usual youth baseball opportunities but I assumed it was over as soon as I started my career.  I am so thankful I was wrong, and forever thankful to my brother for steering me down that road.”

The Long Island Midweek MSBL came into existence in 1989 and like so many other leagues from that era, it began from a single newspaper ad.

“My brother showed me the ad and I couldn’t wait to play.  That was a powerful ad.  We had tryouts and came up with enough for four teams!  We now have 32 teams in the summer and another 23 playing in the fall.  I think we’ll be around for a while.”

Like so many other MSBL members, Ed stopped playing baseball in high school.  Many years later, he joined the Long Island MSBL on a Sunday team until he had kids.  Sundays became more of a family time so he wanted to see if they could start a midweek league and Tim agreed.  That was the birth of the Long Island Midweek MSBL in 1989.

Ed is also a veteran of the MSBL World Series, as well as playing a few times in Vegas.

“I have gone to Arizona for the World Series for the past 15 years, including the last two with my nephew, Eric, in the Father/Son division.  I have also gone to Vegas to play for three or four years in MSBL tournaments.  But I can’t get to Arizona this year.  I’ll miss both the competition and also the golf!”

A devout Mets fan, it was easy to obtain Ed’s fondest memory of his MSBL career.

“About fifteen years ago, we were playing at a college, and Mr. Met himself showed up and escorted us on buses to CITI Field to play our game in a professional stadium, and also take part in a Pepsi commercial shoot, involving some Mets stars.  To say that was a surprise is an understatement!”

How about the craziest thing he ever witnessed?

“While playing in Arizona for Father/Son, I was pitching and my nephew Eric was at short and the runner at first started having convulsions.  Eric ran over and turned him on his side so that he wouldn’t swallow his tongue and stayed with him, holding him up and talking to him, as we waited for the ambulance to come.  They finally came and he thankfully was OK.  A morbid but funny moment was when our grouchy catcher asked if he could go tag him since he was off the base!”

Ed has been influential both in his business and between the lines, as helping to organize and assist in the administration of a league is no easy task.  What sort of advice do you have for all ages of baseball enthusiasts who may be reading this?

“When you are playing ball on the rec level, which most of us are, you are out there to enjoy yourself and you should know that you are lucky to be able to keep playing, whether you are 25 or 75.  Don’t be so intense.  Enjoy yourself, enjoy the friendships you have made along the way, and realize how lucky you really are.”