By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
As we continue in our series of profiling our longest-tenured league presidents as part of MSBL’s 35 Year Anniversary in 2022, we now present MSBL Hall of Fame member, Lifetime Achievement recipient, and Honor Roll member Rick Cantor of the Redwood Empire MSBL, located in Sonoma County, California. The league consists of 40 teams in 25+, 35+, 45+, 55+, and 65+ divisions. Rick has been at the helm for 20 years and shows no signs of stopping!
We presented Rick with some questions to help dig into what has made Rick and the league so successful for so long. Rick’s responses are displayed below for you. Enjoy!
What inspired you to become involved in MSBL at the beginning?
I had just moved to San Francisco from Sacramento in 1995 and was looking to continue playing baseball that summer. So far, I had not missed a summer of playing baseball since I was five years old. I read about tryouts for the Bay Area MSBL, and I had just become age-eligible to play. I attended the tryouts at the University of San Francisco and was drafted by the Rockies, managed by Sal Coates. The following year, we moved back to my hometown of Santa Rosa and I joined my current league, the Redwood Empire MSBL.
What drove you to want to become League President?
To be honest, I had no interest in becoming a league president. Our REBL founder, Mike Zaccagna, was looking to find a replacement after 10 years of running the league, but at the time I simply wanted to remain as just a player on a team. Three years later, our league had major issues with Mike’s replacement, and since I was intimately involved with those issues, I was asked again to take the helm and this time, I agreed.
Ultimately, what drove me to accept taking on the league president role was believing that our local league needed honest and transparent leadership so that league members could trust that their league was dependable and stable, thus allowing them to simply enjoy playing baseball on Sundays.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned through your years as League President?
The most valuable lesson I have learned is the importance of managing your time spent on working on league issues and in doing so, reducing the impact of that time on your family life. I have a wonderfully understanding wife (Kimberly) that appreciates the efforts it takes to run a league, but it’s important to understand that your family’s patience has limits. It’s important to communicate with them so that they understand what is required, but at the same time, not infringe upon the free time that you have available for your family. It’s not always an easy balancing act, but it’s always important to communicate.
What advice can you offer first-year League Presidents?
Be organized, be transparent, surround yourself with people you can trust and depend on, and always be willing to listen to the thoughts and concerns of league members.
Do you have any special experiences, remarks, or fond memories?
Over the years, our bi-monthly Board of Directors meetings are something that I truly enjoy and look forward to. I have been very fortunate to have had, and continue to have, a great group of guys that have volunteered their time to help run our league.
The friendships I have developed over the years in playing and managing, both in my local league and tournaments, are the highlights of my time in the MSBL. I have rekindled friendships with old little league, high school, and college teammates, and continue to build new ones with new teammates and opponents. After all these years, there is still nothing like playing competitive baseball on Sundays and sharing a field with other players.
However, the fondest memories I have, and the ones that I’ll treasure the most, are the times I have shared the field with my son Zeejay and my father-in-law, David. We have played together in our local league’s Day at the Oakland Coliseum, the Sacramento MSBL’s Father-Son tournaments, and in our local REBL games on Sundays. These are the special memories that will last a lifetime!
How valuable to you and your league has MSBL National affiliation been?
It has been invaluable. My previous remarks on my fond memories and experiences were made possible by the creation and continued development of the MSBL. Back in 1989, Steve Sigler created something special. His vision and development of this incredible organization that has grown across the country and beyond, has provided the opportunity for so many ball players to have similar experiences that truly changes lives. His assistance when I first became league president was invaluable, as has the continued support from the entire MSBL family over the years.
What inspires you, today, to continue in your leadership role?
There are times when the volunteer efforts put forth into running an MSBL league can feel thankless. But when a league member expresses their gratitude, thanking you for the opportunity for them to feel like a kid again and play the game that they love, those are the times that inspire me to keep going as a league president. I’m fortunate to be in a situation where I can take on that role, and realizing that those efforts positively affect the lives of other ball players inspires me to keep steering the ship of our local MSBL league.