Compiled by Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
51-year-old Paul Brooks is the League President of the eight-team Seacoast MSBL, based in beautiful Rochester, New Hampshire and currently enjoying their 28th season. Paul has been the president for 27 of those. Paul has been associated with the Seacoast MSBL since 1996 and has also played in the Boston MSBL, where he has logged championships from 1998 and 2006. Paul was also inducted into the 2017 class of the MSBL Honor Roll.
“My brother Greg told me about the Seacoast League and the rest is history,” said Paul. “I have also participated in the MSBL World Series in Arizona and am currently the player/coach of the Seacoast Diamondbacks in the league. We have 14 league championships since 1997, a stat that I am extremely proud of.”
As part of our ongoing ‘League President Spotlight’ series, we spent some time with Paul and asked him questions in a Q/A format, as we have been doing throughout the past couple of years as a way to celebrate our long-standing presidents. Below is a recap of that conversation.
What inspired you to become involved in MSBL at the beginning? My brother played in the league and that is how I found out about it. I played a couple of games and got hooked. He is 12 years older and we played together in the early 90’s. The league then was an over 30 league, but was looking for better competition so they allowed pitchers and catchers to be younger, which is the opposite of now. I pitched four innings the first game as a 26-year-old, something we wouldn’t allow now.
We are a 25-over league and to keep younger players involved, we allow each team to carry three players 18-24, but they can’t pitch or catch. We’ve come full circle but the future of the league, just like with MSBL, lies in the younger players. They need to stay involved.
What drove you to want to become League President? The team I played on initially with my brother had the guy on the team who was running the league but he wanted to get away from it. Steve Sigler was hosting a regional meeting in Boston so I went down and met Steve and I told him I was going to run it. I explained to Steve what was going on and we talked quite a bit, both then and in the months ahead. He was always available to talk about how we could improve.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned through your years as League President? In a nutshell, ‘You can’t make everyone happy.’ With eight managers in a meeting along with a vice president or umpire in chief, it’s impossible to agree on everything. Two or three say one thing, people do another thing, and nothing gets accomplished. It’s tough. I have had to be a sort of dictator at times but I still welcome their input, so I listen but in the end what I say goes. Somebody has to assume that position and it falls under the job description.
What advice can you offer first-year League Presidents? Initially you have to be very transparent and communicative. Be there to answer questions and be open. Then after a while and you have a background on what works. Then you can be more of the leader and the person who is in charge.
I have a core group of guys who play in the league who are in charge of the two fields and I do what they recommend and follow their lead. My vice president, Jerry Boilard, is amazing because he is the buffer and deals with any disgruntled people. He deflects all of the negativity and then informs me of what is happening.
Do you have any special experiences, remarks, or fond memories? We used to go to a regional in Portland (Maine) every year and finally won one about eight or ten years ago. We selected All-Star players from our league and finally put it all together. That was big for the league, too.
I have gone to the MSBL World Series with a team from Portland, Maine and Boston and those experiences were wonderful. There were only two of us from our league but maybe someday I’ll get back with a team from our league. Right now, I am helping a guy run the local Babe Ruth League and my daughter is getting married in a month. This year doesn’t look like a good year to take more time off!
How valuable to you and your league has MSBL National affiliation been? There are a lot of factors that make the affiliation worthwhile. The availability of National and Regional tournaments, for a start. As league president, I am particularly impressed with the national insurance on the fields and on the players. Since the entire country is on the program it keeps the cost down.
Another benefit is that can call Steve or Brian (Sigler) any time with issues or questions. They have any forms or anything I need and are always there. We aren’t just thrown off the dock. They work with you and will accommodate.
Having that national name and so many people or departments to keep you humming keeps our players involved. Other leagues in this area have gone by the wayside but the MSBL name lives on for all of these reasons.
What inspires you, today, to continue in your leadership role? I have a lot of connections in the area and take a lot of pride in this league and what we’ve been able to accomplish. We also maintained a good core of players and field managers throughout the pandemic. We went down to four teams and then right back up to eight. We are looking to expand to possibly ten teams next year.
I have put a lot of years into establishing these connections and I want to see them through. Having these facilities we can use creates a high expectation and I want to ensure that those expectations are met. Bottom line is this is still just recreational baseball and players can come and go if they wish. They have options. We want to make sure they continue to play under the MSBL banner.