By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
You’ve heard the phrase before but it bears repeating: ‘if you look in the dictionary under’…etc., etc. Well, this MSBL World Series example rings true. Look up ‘consistency’ and you’ll see a picture of the OC Sox. The OC stands for Orange County, as they are based out of the great state of California and also dominate the So Cal MSBL during the summer.
Need proof? They won World Series titles in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020. They lost by one run to the powerhouse Boston Wolfpack in the 2019 title game and didn’t attend in 2018, as they found themselves between age divisions as the team didn’t line up correctly with the new designations. You can do the math without much trouble. They have five rings out of six years and missed a clean sweep by one run. The bad news for everyone else? They’ll be attending in 2021!
John Berryman is the architect of this team and handles all of the details, while the on-field duties are carried out by manager David Rice. John calls himself the business manager of this amazing group of ballplayers.
“We first attended the World Series about 20 years ago and have always been the OC Sox or White Sox,” explained Berryman. “We were in the 35+ Mountain division in our first year then and have worked our way up to the 50+ National with improvement in our personnel and as we’ve gotten older and a little more improved.”
John is the catcher and started playing in the MSBL back in 1994 at the age of 32 when the OC Sox were simply the White Sox.
“We eventually changed the name for a new identity and to honor our roots. Most of our players come from our league team, maybe about 80%. Usually, the only tournaments we play in annually are the World Series and the Desert Classic in Palm Springs, where we have won seven championships. Some of the guys split up and play for other teams in the Vegas tournaments but we set our sights on coming together for those two every year.”
I don’t think anyone could argue with that philosophy, either. I asked John if there was a defining moment that turned a regular World Series team into the steamroller they have become.
“Actually, there was a turning point. It was in 2014 when we won our first championship. We were 0-3 in pool play and had just gotten beaten 21-2 in our third game. One of our quiet team leaders, Robert Wasmund, got everyone together and we had a team meeting. It wasn’t a Knute Rockne ‘rah-rah’ speech but he laid it out there and explained what we needed to do. It lit the match.
After his speech we went 3-0, made the playoffs, beat the three teams that had beaten us, and won the ring. What he said we still carry with us. It changed our outlook from merely participants to finding a winning attitude. To this day we talk about that speech.”
The Sox play during the summer in the 45+ division of the So Cal MSBL and are looking forward to hopefully a full year of league play, as we all are.
“Jef Brown has become our league president and he does a great job. We should have about 22 teams this year in the 45+ and the Open divisions. We play quality baseball all summer and that’s what keeps us sharp for Arizona”
I pressed John for names of some of the major contributors to the Sox’ success but he refused to single out anyone. He is fully entrenched into the team concept. The only exception to that rule was his mention of Vic Darensbourg, star pitcher and ex-pro who seems to be on the mound for every championship game.
“We have so many great athletes but Vic is also one of our best hitters and outfielders. He is far from one dimensional. In his first year with us in 2014 he was on the mound when we won our first title and will be there in the future, too. Amazingly, in his first start in pool play with us in 2014 he lost. On any given day, as they say.”
Their 50+ National division is routinely a ‘who’s who’ in arguably the toughest competition in the tournament. It’s fun to simply seek out their schedule on the MSBL World Series website page to go watch this division, as long as you can safely just watch them do battle and not have to face them.
“Last year we were 3-3 in pool play in this tough division. Anybody can get hot and take the whole thing. The So Cal Blue Jays went 0-6 and they are one of the best teams ever assembled. They just lost some close yet competitive games. But that’s what we want. We enjoy a good game every day and that’s what makes this annual trip so special.”