By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Turk Starniri is the new league president of the Lehigh Valley MSBL, having taken over in 2019, but is by no means navigating unchartered waters. Turk was actually one of the founders of the league in 1988 and helped run the league for the first decade and then backed off from managerial duties. That all changed last year as he was coaxed by Steve Sigler to get back into the thick of things and take over once again as league president. Turk decided that the success of the league was important enough that he agreed to do so.
“We have 20 teams in 2020, which is down slightly from our projections but not unexpected because of concerns about the virus,” stated Starniri. “We were looking for an early April start and then May was dangled out there and we actually started playing on July 12th, including a lot of double headers. A lot of it was out of our control, of course, but everyone seems to be happy to be back out there.”
What special precautions have been implemented to keep everyone safe?
“We actually have very few mandated procedures. The umpires haven’t changed and are still stationed behind the catcher, though they wear masks, nor has the actual playing of the games been affected much. Everyone can wear masks if they want and we practice social distancing in the dugouts and along the fences and in the stands.
Our players are knowledgeable enough to know what to do to protect themselves and also what to do if someone tests positively. If that happens, we’ll deal with it and if a team needs to pull out, we understand. Our numbers are down a little because some players wish to take care of the elderly players so some decided not to play. Baseball is a game you automatically social distance but if you want to slip on a mask at first while someone is being held on then that’s fine.”
(Below are some adopted league rules as posted on their website)
The Lehigh Valley MSBL consists of a 25-over division broken into an American and a National level of play, and a 55-over division, also divided into two levels. They are looking to attempt a 60-over division, possibly next year. The 76-year ‘young’ Starniri is also personally a veteran of the MSBL World Series in Arizona.
“I haven’t missed a World Series since 1988. I have been going down primarily with the Lehigh Valley Moondogs and have played in various age divisions throughout the years. Some friends of mine who live in Arizona have said things are loosening up so I am looking forward to getting down there this year.
Back in 1998 my challenge was to make this league for and by the players. I gave the managers a vote on many topics and continue that procedure to this day. The league is running as it should, with accountability, competition and an eye on expansion. We’re the only adult baseball league in the area but that is no reason to be complacent. We’re very happy where we are.”