A Game for Young Hearted, MSBL World Series a Special Annual Valley Event

MSBL World Series

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Snippets of yesteryear flash all over the diamond and in that moment they are still in their prime.

Then reality – or maybe it is the bursitis – sets in.

And they are moving more like their true age rather than what their mind’s eye remembers from back in the day.

There are some many cool aspects of the Men’s Senior Baseball League World Series, a three week baseball free-for-all that takes over baseball diamonds in the Valley every October, but the most inspiring is seeing the old-timers playing hardball.

There are tournaments for age groups ranging 18 and older to 75 and older and played at many of the spring training complexes.

The championship games are played at big-league spring ballparks and the winners receive a big champions ring similar to the one’s the San Francisco Giants are about to be sized for in the weeks to come.

“I’m a size 7 I think,” said 76-year-old Ohioan George Hughes, whose right ring finger was as crooked as a lightning bolt. “It will only see my wife’s jewelry box. I had surgery on my hand a few years back and threw the baseball before I should and it ended up like this.”

Hughes and most of his teammates on the Canton Classic won a ring for the first time after 22 years of playing tournaments in Vegas, Arizona and Florida.

The Classics got to the championship game by turning a triple play in the semifinals with the tying runs in scoring to give the fifth-seeded team in the 65-and-old division the impetus to an unlikely title.

Then there was the Zephyrs, who won the 55-plus wood bat title, with a walk-off single to left with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning.

The players lingered and lingered and lingered around the field, not wanting to leave the field, after finally winning a title this year after coming up short so many times before.

The players held the trophy in their arms like it was a newborn of a baby had a gold shining gleam.

While the event is great for keeping the old young it is also a tremendous generator of revenue for The Valley. There are some 350 teams from throughout the nation are competing over the three weeks.

With each team averaging about 20 players, that means about 7,000 players. Most are coming from outside Arizona, although many players in the local Arizona MSBL also participate.

It is easy to see how each player spends about $500 to $1,000 during their time here playing ball. Worth every penny to these guys when it pays off with a run to the championship.

“Every bruise hurts a little less and every dollar is well spent,” Classics MVP Larry Weiss said.

The other division that is worth checking out is the father-son divisions as these guys never have to worry about have the sentimental ‘Hey Dad, You wanna have a catch’ become awkward like in the scene from Field of Dreams.

They get to play with each other for a week in some of the best 10,000 seat ballparks in America.

And if they stick with it those players could keep coming back each year all the way to their 80s as long as their bodies can hold out.

“There are no losers down here,” said Sacramento Solons manager Ray Newman, 80, whose team lost to the Classics in the finals. “We are all blessed to keep putting on the uniform and play the game we love.”