By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Tom Evans Krause is the League President of the Puget Sound Senior Baseball League located in and around Seattle, a post he has embraced for the past 24 years. He is an institution and is the head of one of the most successful MSBL leagues in the country. He was also honored by MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler as the MSBL Man of the Year in 2019. Here is an excerpt from that story:
“Tom’s impact and passion are undeniable, as he has helped make the PSSBL one of the premier leagues in the MSBL family. He was inducted into the MSBL Hall of Fame in 2012, received the 2016 MSBL Lifetime Achievement Award, and is part of the MSBL Honor Roll contingent. Tom is also quite active at the MSBL World Series in Arizona every year, both as a player and manager, while sending multiple teams to the tourney every year from the PSSBL. He has been managing the Puget Sound Twins for 15 years – now in the 45+ Cactus Division.” (As of 2019)
As part of our 35th-anniversary spotlight series, we caught up with Tom and asked him to share his journey with us. Below please enjoy Tom’s well-thought-out answers to our questions.
What inspired you to become involved in MSBL at the beginning? I’ve mentioned in previous MSBL articles that I read the Steve Sigler story “Hardball for Kids Over 30” in Sports Illustrated back in 1988 and was totally jealous. Years later after moving to Seattle, I responded to a small ad in the sports section of the paper and attended a tryout. It turned out that it was the Puget Sound Senior Baseball League, an affiliate of MSBL National. Celebrating Hardball for This Kid Over 30 (age 43 at the time), I was drafted to an expansion team in 1995 and played (and later GM’d) with the same 35 & Over Sierra Division Beavers squad for sixteen seasons. Still blessed in 2023 to be playing ball 28 years later!
What drove you to want to become League President? Throughout my life, there has been a call to service instilled by my parents, a hospital chaplain, and a teacher. In 2000 I was asked to join the PSSBL Board of Directors to fill a mid-season vacancy as a player agent and served in that capacity for the next five years. My role and input expanded over those years, such that when the presiding league president stepped down after the 2005 season, it was time for me to step up. We had some serious challenges to tackle including addressing a deep financial hole, a need to modernize various facets of the operation, and creating a new and improved website while continuing to attract and retain new members. Developing consensus and a game plan with board members, GMs, players, and other stakeholders to advance these issues was inspirational.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned through your years as League President? Know the mission and the brand. Rely on the strengths and talents of everyone in the organization and encourage their participation. Stand up for what you believe is best for everyone, but avoid the “my way or the highway” approach. Communicate clearly and regularly. Speak the words “thanks” and “good job” often. ‘Fess up when you’re wrong. Use all the tools available to promote the league, including ones with which you personally may not be familiar – someone in your league is. Reevaluate the league’s status every off-season and study demographic trending in particular. Be open to new ideas and be ready to make changes – no one person has all the answers. Always ask “What can we do better”? Be above reproach on and off the field. Listen. Listen. Listen.
What advice can you offer first-year League Presidents? Before making immediate wholesale changes, be certain to study and understand every aspect of your league’s operation. What’s the mission? Short-term and long-term goals? Regardless of the league structure, whether for-profit or non-profit, encourage qualified people with various talents to be part of your leadership team. Decide what plan will produce optimum results, a major overhaul, an evolutionary approach, or just a few tweaks. Reach out to potential mentors – many experienced league presidents are open to offering insights and advice.
Do you have any special experiences, remarks, or fond memories? It’s been a blessing to have had special experiences and memories too numerous to mention thanks to the PSSBL and MSBL National. The biggest blessing, however, is the many, many friendships that have come through baseball thanks to these organizations.
How valuable to you and your league has MSBL National affiliation been? There have been – and continue to be – any number of benefits to the PSSBL’s affiliation with MSBL National. Here are just a few examples.
When I first took over as president, we were insured by an independent company. After several years, they not only jacked up the price but planned to have us pay for additional coverage we didn’t want or need. After researching the market, we took advantage of the insurance available through MSBL and continue to be very happy with the price and coverage.
As one of the largest MSBL affiliate leagues, we appreciate the custom scorebooks we receive each season. They provide a classy, professional look for our organization.
Receiving regular inquiries from potential players who register with MSBL National’s website is another great advantage. Our league player agent follows up with each individual and quite a few have joined the PSSBL over the years.
Having the opportunity to communicate and share ideas with other presidents around the country is a significant benefit. Steve Sigler provides contact info and recommendations, which have been enormously helpful.
Of course, the opportunity for our membership to play in MSBL-sponsored tourneys, including the World Series, is of tremendous value.
What inspires you, today, to continue in your leadership role? Someone once told me early in my radio broadcasting career “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse, ‘cuz there’s no staying the same”. Surrounded by smart, dedicated Board members, GMs and league members over the years, I’m always inspired to collaborate in exploring new ideas and innovation in the quest for an ever-better PSSBL. Extra special thanks to my beautiful wife, Nicole, who pushes me to be better and to keep on keepin’ on.