By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Steve Masten is a working-class ballplayer and an integral part of the Ohio MSBL. League President Nick Loukas recommended we speak with Steve as we continue seeking the MSBL’s movers and shakers as a 2023 expanded element of our 2022 35th Anniversary celebration.
“Steve Masten would be great to feature,” said Nick. “He has helped run our 60+ and 65+ divisions for years and started and runs the 70+ division. His playing ability is also well documented and we would be lost without him.”
Regarding the working-class label…” My dad was a cement finisher,” explained Masten. “His motto was ‘Work hard, play hard.’ I have never forgotten that. My wife and I still lift weights regularly. I live that philosophy to this day and conveyed it to all of the kids and teammates that I have been involved with over the years.”
Steve is a 76-year-old who started in the league in the 45+ division in 2002 and has progressed through the 55’s, the ’60s, 65’s, and now the 70’s.
“We decided to have a pickup game every Monday for the 70-over players, which started a few years ago. Over 20 guys would show up! Now, we have a bonified four-team division with a 12-game schedule, but no playoffs. That gives the guys the opportunity to play in the 60+ and 65+ playoffs, as many of them play on multiple teams.
Nick mentioned that Steve pretty must takes care of three upper divisions. What does that entail?
“I make schedules and consider preferences of times and days from managers, and try not to be a dictator. I also re-schedule rainouts, make-ups, rule changes, and coordinate assignments with the head umpire. It has turned into a big job. I retired 24 years ago so I have the time to do this all.”
Steve’s passion is coaching.
“When I graduated from college, I was all about coaching football, and coached it for 30 years. During the first couple of years out of college, I was still playing in an alumni football league, and baseball, too. Then I began coaching high school football, baseball, and basketball, all while continuing to pour concrete. I never had the time to play high school baseball. I retired from coaching football in 2000.”
Steve’s coaching skills took the obvious route to manage his MSBL teams throughout the years.
“I am a pitcher who also coaches, but I love both. I still enjoy pitching, though. I have had rotator cuff surgery and open-heart surgery so my days of throwing it by them are behind me but I still enjoy seeing guys screw themselves into the ground trying to hit my knuckleball!
Occasionally the ball will curve along with knuckling. My catcher told me once when that happened that the guy turned around and said ‘That’s just not fair.’ I gave the 65+ league team to someone else to coach and only coach the Vision Care team in the 70s, along with pitching. I love playing this game.”
Is there a player he always tried to emulate?
“That’s easy. Warren Spahn. He was a workhorse and pitched forever. I even tried to utilize his big leg kick when I was younger, but only Warren could perfect that move.
I also want to mention that Cy Young is from our county and in 2000 I was elected to the Cy Young Tuscarawas County Baseball Hall of Fame. That means a lot to me.”
There must be at least a couple of memorable events on the mound that come to mind after so many starts.
“About ten years ago I threw a complete game of 238 pitches.” (For those of you keeping score at home, Steve would have been 66 years old! -Editor)
“One other time in a tournament, I threw five innings on Friday night and then complete games on Saturday and Sunday. I lost the championship game 3-1 and only gave up five hits and their three runs were unearned. It was 23 innings in total. Our defense was a little off that day.”
As an aside, in 1996 Steve also threw both ends of a doubleheader.
“I also threw a pretty sloppy no-hitter in Class A ball. Along with no hits, I hit five batters and walked four. I don’t do much bragging about that one.”
I asked Steve about his involvement in any MSBL national tournaments.
“I used to go to Arizona a lot, especially because my nieces and nephews would come to see us from Tucson. Those trips always turned into a family vacation, including many trips to Florida to play. My sister and her husband would also come along. But my knees can’t take the airports anymore and flying is just too tough on me with all of the coming and going. I was able to play in 2020 for Donny DeCordova’s Cal Vets at the World Series.”
Are there any final comments?
“It is different now shaking hands after the games. There is an air of appreciation for still being out there. I get thanked all the time for what I contribute and it feels good. It’s not just a high-five and off you go.
Joe Sidor started this league and set a pretty high bar and Nick Loukas has done an exceptional job in maintaining that standard. I’m glad I can contribute to what I do.
I’m also very glad we’re part of a national baseball organization like MSBL. We need them.”