MSBL League Spotlight: Syracuse MSBL, est. 1988

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Rob Allen is League President of the Syracuse MSBL and has been active in the league since 2008.  They have been a part of the MSBL family since 1988 and are about to embark on their 33rd year.  MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler wants to recognize the Syracuse MSBL for their longevity and professionalism so we asked Rob to answer some questions for us so that you may be able to dig a little deeper into their success story.  Rob’s responses are displayed below.

What is the history of the league and how did it start? – The league started in 1988

What age divisions of play are now offered? – 25+ with two players 23+ per team

How many teams are anticipated this year? We will have eight teams this season.

Were you able to get in a part or all of your season in 2020? – We completed roughly 60-70% of full schedule last year.

When does the league begin play and when will it finish, including any playoffs? – 2021 league starts 5/2, playoffs start 8/22 with finals 9/12.

When did you personally start playing in the league? 2008 on an expansion team then starting my own team, the Brewers, in 2010.

When did you become president? 2018

Who were your predecessors and are they still involved in any capacity? Gregg Earl was the league president before me and still assists with set up and I lean on him for procedural issues at times. Owen Donovan was before him and Owen has been involved with the Syracuse League since its inception.

What is your most memorable MSBL moment as a president? – Being nominated by the league managers was humbling along with developing more in-depth relationships with the rest of the league.

What challenges did you face when you started the league or when you took over? – My biggest challenge when becoming president was that I had never been in charge of organizing a league or an organization. Developing a system with contacts for the fields, umpires, managers, other leagues, and National. Seeing what strengths we had and trying to implement ways to further bolster the league.

What are your biggest challenges today? Dealing with any disciplinary or team/player difficulties. It’s just not enjoyable. I do appreciate helping the managers who are new or may be having a difficult go. I want teams to enjoy the game, relax, and play ball.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction? – Greatest satisfaction is seeing where the league is today. I feel that the league has a good vibe this year. We should have eight strong and healthy teams. The managers are easy to talk with and have been good with communication.

What do you see for the league in the future? – I enjoy seeing some of the newer players entering the league and staying more long term. It’s good to pick out players who have potential to continue on with our league.

What is the reason for the continued success of the league? – I feel that the Syracuse league has had continued success due to keeping the team managers involved in the decisions of the league. The managers are more invested in the league as a result. We’ve also adapted since 1988 from a 30+ league, to a 25+ league in 2008, and since 2018 we allow teams to have two players who are 23/24.  This bridged the gap from those leaving college and keeping them in baseball over going to softball.

What part of running the league do you enjoy most? Seeing changes made that have had a positive outcome.

Do you still play in the league? I do still play. My Brewers have had good success in our run. We are very blessed.

What is the history of your league team’s participation in any MSBL national tournaments?Syracuse MSBL has had long-term but intermittent participation in national tournaments. They brought teams for years to the Fall Classic before I entered the league. I’ve personally brought two teams to Florida and we’ve played in several local tourneys such as in Cooperstown, Corning, and Niagara Falls. Several individual players play for different teams in many of the larger tournaments.

What would you say are the most important accomplishments in your league? – The league’s longevity is certainly its biggest accomplishment: 33 seasons.

How valuable is your relationship with MSBL?National MSBL is integral in sustaining many leagues due to giving structure and organization for supplies and insurance. Having multiple local and regional tournaments is also I big draw for the highly involved players.

What advice would you give to new league presidents? My advice to give is don’t change anything major in your first year, rely on your predecessor, listen to your managers and keep them involved, and have good healthy communication with the ancillary groups – umpires, fields, schools, local park officials.

How important is family support? – Family support is paramount. Baseball was practically a part of any prenuptial agreement!  All kidding aside, you need the hierarchy of family, church, and then anything else. My family and I make compromises and sacrifices in order to balance everything from helping coach my kids in their sports, be active in our church, and then still be prepared for games. We don’t plan any vacations during playoffs and my wife allows me to go to Florida to play a kid’s game for a week. It’s also a very proud dad moment when your kids look up to you because you play ball and have been able to have some success. I am a very blessed person.