By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
The MUNY-Buffalo MSBL, based in Buffalo, New York and its suburbs, came about in the late 80’s when the long-standing MUNY leagues, which began in 1910, started to disband their multiple leagues. The MUNY–MSBL was then formed. Now headed by Ralph Proulx, who took over the leadership in 1992, the league began their 2020 campaign on July 6th with play in 25+, 35+ and 45+ divisions.
“When I took over in the early nineties, we had six teams in a single 25-over division,” said Proulx. “This year we totaled 13 teams but usually have over 20. Some teams didn’t play because of the virus and some come across from Canada so they were stopped from being able to come in. They have all vowed to be back in 2021 so we’ll be fine.”
The 64-year old Proulx continues to play and coach in the league and has been a fixture at MSBL national tournaments for a couple of decades. He still holds down first base and second base when called into action.
“I manage a 25-over team in our league and then play in our 35+ and 45+ divisions, as well as manage. I still go to the MSBL World Series in Arizona with Team Victory as a player and look forward to it every year. I also go to the Fall Classic with the East Coast Cardinals as a third base coach.”
What special considerations have you implemented in the league to combat the virus?
“The tricky part is that we play at town parks and every county is different. I filled out paperwork for a month! We put all of the county guidelines together in one comprehensive list and sent it to everyone. For example, we encourage no sharing of gloves, bats or equipment, use hand sanitizers frequently, keep socially distanced, no high-fives or handshakes, masks recommended but not required, email lineups before the game and if you’re sick stay home. Most of the players have been really good about it.
We didn’t implement any critically special rules and simply asked everyone to be smart. All of our managers were in favor of playing the game as normally as possible. Our umpires decided to stay behind the plate and it is also recommended they wear a mask, though not while on the infield. Our infection rate in this region is very low, which helps.”
In a normal year the MUNY-Buffalo MSBL usually starts in April and finishes by the end of August. A decision had to be made as to whether to bundle the shorter season in 2020 into additional nights or double-headers or to even extend the season to get in the same amount of games, with slight modifications. The 25+ teams look to finish their playoffs by the end of August and the 35’s the end of September. The 45’s aren’t planning on any playoffs, primarily because of a diamond shortage.
“The players said they didn’t want to commit to additional days of playing, as well as the cost, so we’ll simply have a regular season with fewer games and regroup next year.”
Since Ralph has been in charge for so many years there must be great satisfaction in being at the helm. What is the driving force behind it all?
“It’s the ability to continually allow people at an older age to play baseball. I still have new guys, even in our 45’s, who have not played for many years. We generally have the same guys who have played together through all of the divisions so they hit the 45’s and are all still together. The success of our league’s longevity is from people moving up. There just aren’t enough people in our area to come in as a team and start playing in an older division. Our league just wouldn’t work without the passion and hard work from our managers and our camaraderie throughout the years.”