Submitted by Doug Plaster, Fresno MSBL

I was asked to highlight someone from our Fresno Men’s Baseball League but sadly this story is about an exceptional friend and ball player who recently passed away.  His name is Joe Ayala, #13.

He wasn’t just a teammate but a close friend. Joe was a blast to have in the dugout. Joe never threw a fit or lost his temper and always displayed a great attitude on the field, even when certain calls didn’t go his way.  Joe also had a couple of nick names, ‘Stitch’ and ‘Champ’.

The ‘Stitch’ nickname came from the 2003 MSBL World Series in Phoenix when midway through one of our games Joe got the opposing team in a pickle.  Two or three throws into it the runner charged Joe and threw his elbow into Joes eye. When the dust settled, Joe had to go get seven stitches over his right eye, therefore the nickname “Stitch” was born.

‘Champ’ came around during that same World Series in ‘03. We ended up winning our division, not to mention multiple league championships over the years.

What makes the team picture so interesting and special is that a couple of our players played little league with Joe, a couple played Little League against Joe, the majority of us played ball with Joe in High School as the Roosevelt Rough Riders, while ALL of us played ball at Roosevelt.

His loss shook the whole team so we decided to take the year off no matter what happens in 2020 and will try to regroup next year.

Thank you for letting me share.  Joe will be truly missed.