MSBL League Spotlight 2021: Vermont Senior Baseball League

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

The Vermont Senior Baseball League began in 1984 and then came under the MSBL umbrella in 1991.  The league’s current president is Billy Waller.  We reached out to league secretary Reid Crosby for some background on this successful league and received a wonderful summary of past and current league activities.  Reid’s comments are shown below, in his words, along with a little help from past president and current player Sal Spinosa.

Our league was founded in 1984 by Floyd Brown and originally dubbed the Northern Vermont Old-Timers Baseball Association. The league formalized in 1988 with teams from Milton, Newport, Underhill, and Sheldon Springs represented.  Key in instituting a board, by-laws, and dues was Harold Sargent, the manager of the Underhill team.  In 1989 teams from Jericho and Winooski joined the league, and in 1991 the league became a member of MSBL, which had been established in 1988.

After additional expansion, the league split in 1995, with teams from Underhill, Enosburg (formerly Sheldon Springs), Westford, Franklin, and South Burlington breaking away from our league to establish the Green Mountain Men’s Senior Baseball League, which competes under slightly different, although similar rules.

In 1998 Milton also left for the GMMSBL and our league was down to four teams. That number doubled for the 1999 season, and by 2002 there were 15 teams in our league, enough as to necessitate the addition of a second tier of playoffs at the end of the regular season.

In 2003, the league changed to its current name, the Vermont Senior Baseball League.

From 2001 to 2004, there was an unofficial “state title game” contested between the playoff champion of our league and the winner of the GMMSBL. These games were contested with a compromise in the rules used, played using their pitching rules and our base-running rules, and with the leagues alternating turns as the home team.

During the mid-‘00’s our league continued to expand, largely due to the efforts of Mike Wagner, peaking with 23 teams competing in 2008.

Currently there are 11 teams in our league, the fewest since 2001.

Here is a list of our past league presidents:

Floyd Brown 1984-2003

Mike Wagner 2004-2006

Erik Nielsen 2007-2008

Dennis Johnson 2009-2012

*Sal Spinosa 2013-2015

Tom Beauregard 2016-2019

*Vaughn Cloney 2020

*Billy Waller 2021

(*still in playing in the league)

We are a 35+ league, although we limit the number of players each team may have under the age of 40.

Generally, we begin play on the last Sunday in April.  This year, after not being able to have a season in 2020 and with things still somewhat up in the air due to the pandemic, we did not start until May 23rd.  Given the shorter summers in Vermont, this necessitated reducing the number of games we usually play from 14 or 16 (depending on the number of teams) to only 12 games this season.  We will complete our season this year as we normally do at the end of August with playoffs running through September.

Since I am not the league President, I solicited the following Q&A from one the players in our league, Sal Spinosa, who was President from 2013-2015.

What is your most memorable MSBL moment as a president? The arrangement of playoffs on great fields and also a total rewrite of our local rules.

What challenges did you face when you started the league or when you took over?  Adherence to rules and insistence of good behavior.

What are your biggest challenges today? Keeping up with younger players.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction? Contributing to a win; getting concurrence from teams on imposition of rules.

What do you see for the league in the future?  We are losing teams and interest seems to be waning.

What is the reason for the continued success of the league?  Our core group of guys love the game.

What part of running the league do you enjoy most?  Facing a problem honestly and reaching a widely supported solution.

Do you still play in the league?  Yes.

What is the history of your league team’s participation in any MSBL national tournaments?  Years ago, we sent a league team to many tournaments including MSBL, even out of state.

What would you say are the most important accomplishments in your league?  Giving guys the chance to relive the joy of baseball.

How valuable is your relationship with MSBL? Very instructive and helpful when I was President.

What advice would you give to new league presidents? Make it clear from the start whether you intend to abide by baseball standards and rules or not.

How important is family support? We love to have the kids come to the games.