By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
The Cleveland MSBL has been in the MSBL quiver since 2011 and is currently operating under the watchful eye of Tony Martin. We asked Tony whom he might identify as one of the movers and shakers of his league so that we might include him in our 2024 Player Profile series as displayed on the MSBL website.
“I have selected Jim Convertino to be the subject of your player profile for the national website,” said Martin. “Jim is one of the very few people who has been involved in adult baseball in Cleveland longer than I have!
He is a long-tenured player and manager of the league’s Red Sox team and is one of the very few people that I can confide in with league issues. He also has an exciting career outside of baseball that is worth exploring.”
When notified of Tony’s remarks and our wanting to reach out for an interview, Jim was quick to deflect any kudos.
“I wouldn’t be in the league without Tony,” said Jim. “He has done such a good job and is the master of managing all of the various personalities. We are friends on and off the field and I have conveyed to him that I will help in any way.
If Tony wants me to check out a field, either to see if it is overall good enough for the league or even on gameday conditions, I am eager to do so. I am happy to have played a part in helping the league secure some playing time at Lake Erie Crushers Stadium in Avon, Ohio, home of the Crushers of the Frontier League. The players love playing there.
I have become sort of a sounding board for Tony on league issues and would do anything to help. I guess you could label me as a PR guy as well as a league team manager. I try to lead by example and hopefully, some of it rubs off.”
Jim is a 60-year-old who grew up in Binghamton, New York, about an hour south of Syracuse, and possesses quite a pitching pedigree from Siena College in Albany, New York, to go along with his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He is also an exceptional organizer, both on the field and in business. On the baseball front, Jim has been managing his team for the past 30 years, after moving to Cleveland in 1986.
“Softball is a four-letter word, but that’s all there was available back in the day. I played softball and basketball because it was something to do. Then I found out about a local baseball league in Cleveland and eventually decided to start my own team. I stopped pitching about five years ago and now I only catch.
I was 23 or 24 at the time and somebody told me about a hardball league and they needed pitchers. I was still throwing in the high 80’s and loved the thought of getting back on the mound. I quickly put softball in the rearview mirror.
I never ask more of the guys than I ask of myself. I haven’t missed a game in the five years I have moved to catcher. I hope my outlook rubs off on the guys.”
The 2023 version of the Cleveland MSBL consisted of 20 teams, 16 in the Silver Division and six in the more elite Gold Division.
“We scrutinize a team’s makeup to ensure that they are in the division that best suits their abilities. Nobody likes to be on either end of a 20-3 score. We have accomplished that with our Gold and Silver divisions. We are also thinking of adding a Bronze division for the more recreational teams. I think it would be a great idea. My Red Sox team plays in the Silver division, which is where we belong.
The Red Sox have a great time as a group and respect each other as people and players, while respecting the other team and the umpires. We gear our team toward families while everyone gets innings and at-bats. Nobody spends the day sitting on the pine. You must be a good teammate with no showboating or taunting to be a part of our bunch. So far so good!”
I asked Jim what he felt was the best thing about the Cleveland MSBL.
“Number one is how well the league is run and organized, thanks to Tony’s hard work,” Jim exclaimed. “He makes it what it is. We seek out very good fields, and the schedule is fair to everyone. Tony and I will go out and check the fields all the time. It is very organized. A team never has to worry about showing up to no umpires or the field not being lined or sprinklers having been on all night. Tony double-checks everything. Players can just go out and play without worry.”
Jim’s business and public relations savvy extends far beyond the white lines. He is the Director of the Professional Athletes & Entertainers Practice for McGowan PAE.
Here is an excerpt from Jim’s Bio:
“He specializes in offering customized personal insurance solutions for professional athletes, entertainers, Family Offices, directors, TV and movie producers, screenwriters, ballclub owners, front office personnel, coaches, and ultra-high net worth individuals. He also provides his clients with unique insurance protection for their Foundations, NIL liability, and property exposures for high school and college athletes, celebrity appearances, shell corporations, commercial endeavors, singing tours, television and movie productions, unique collections, disability and life insurance, LLCs, charity events, sports camps, and websites.”
“I started in this business around 2004 or 2005 and ultimately decided to specialize in athletes and entertainers. Some very high-profile players are my clients, but I can’t divulge who they are, of course. Some have been clients for 20 years from my early days and they all appreciate what we have to offer.
Athletes have brands so we need to make sure everything is covered for them. We currently have around 800 clients and employ 12 people full-time. Integrity is huge to our clients and we ensure that they enjoy the right coverage while concentrating on going out and pursuing their careers.
It is a difficult business to cover celebrities because of all their needs, but they know they can call any time. Our entire staff is located in Cleveland and our office represents a total collaboration element. We have various staff members who speak Spanish, of course. That has become a must.”
I couldn’t exit this interview without asking Jim about a favorite player of all time.
“Tom Seaver. I loved the way he played on the field and the way he carried himself off it. I loved watching his ‘drop and drag’ mechanics, which were flawless. He was relentless in learning everything he could to become the best. His attitude was infectious. I have worn #41 whenever I could because of him.”
Is there a favorite baseball moment?
“My Dad worked back-breaking hours running the family bakery. He could never get away, as happens in a business like that. Up early and stay late. But one time he drove two hours to see me pitch in college. That was the only time he ever came and saw me play. It means the world to me and nothing else comes close.”
“Always look forward, don’t always look back.”