By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
The Southwest Florida MSBL Naples is the latest addition to the MSBL family, having thrown out their first pitch on April 25th. Under the guidance of MSBL veteran Tony Castro (shown below with his fiance Esther), a former resident of the Long Island MSBL, he decided to start a new league in Florida after moving 1,342 miles south.
“I had been contemplating putting a league together for the past two years since moving here. In February 2021 I decided to march forward and make it happen. This is our inaugural season and we couldn’t be more thrilled!”
The league began April 25th and will conclude sometime in July, including playoffs. August baseball can be a little tricky in August. (First-week action photos are displayed at the end of the story. “Our uniforms aren’t here yet but that didn’t stop us!”)
“We are happy to be starting with six teams and will be eventually offering play in 25+, 35+, 45+, 55+, and 65+ divisions once we get our legs under us.”
Tony began his MSBL career in the fall of 1988 in Long Island, the very first MSBL league run then, as now, by MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler and his son Brian. Fast forward 33 years later and now he faces many of the same issues that Steve did ‘lo those years ago.
“My priority is in providing a space where baseball enthusiasts of various skill levels, including myself, are able to play and enjoy the game we love and are passionate about,” stated Castro. “My biggest 3:00 am ‘wake-up’ fear every night was of not being able to recruit enough players and teams. We also had to deal with the lack of baseball fields since most of the fields in Naples cater to softball. It remains our biggest problem to this day.”
We asked Tony what gives him the greatest satisfaction, now that the first pitch has been thrown.
“I enjoy witnessing that the vision of providing an opportunity to play baseball is becoming a reality. With hard work and dedication, I can see that this league has a place to grow and compete with the rest of MSBL organization. It’s very satisfying seeing the joy of grown men do what they love most and keeping the spirit of baseball alive.”
As most everyone knows, MSBL is multifaceted organization comprised of not only hundreds of leagues across the country but being a major sponsor of national and regional tournaments throughout the year.
“A large volume of our players have been on other leagues throughout the nation which are affiliated with the MSBL. Many of them have participated in the MSBL tournaments nationally, so we will promote the tournament participation to our members and hopefully we can get to the point of sending a league team to either the World Series in Arizona or the Fall Classic in Florida.”
Since building a league from scratch is fresh in your mind, Tony, what advice would you give to someone else thinking of following in your footsteps?
“Stay positive, believe it will happen,” explained the new president. “Know that if you put the work in, obstacles can and will be overcome. Also, keep your families involved. Family is everything and they are there with you through the good and rough times! Just remember the very famous line, “if you build it, they will come.”
“Steve Sigler, President and Founder of the MSBL, has been a great motivator and mentor and extremely valuable,” concluded Castro. “There are other leagues available but do not have the same pride and commitment that the MSBL offers all its participants. Steve is personally responsible for the success of all of his leagues, as well as ours.”
Here is a link to a promotional video sponsored by the Southwest Florida MSBL Naples: