What’s New – A Lot!

Jackie Piro

Jackie Piro, Associate, MSBL Online

I have not blogged here because I’ve been so busy helping MSBL with their new revamped website. Our goal is to keep it fresh with new content each week. As you know HardBall Magazine has gone the way of the dinosaur. Read all about it here. I am uploading HardBall archived articles, and maintaining the new photo hosting site. I’m also helping write, design and send out email newsletters to keep our members up-to-date on what’s new on the site. Jeff McGaw (formerly HardBall Editor) is in charge of online reporting and he’s got a team out in Vegas right now.
I will occasionally blog back here, but only to urge you to go to the MSBL site for more information. I have to keep hardball.net open for at least another year as I migrate archival content over ot MSBL. What’s happening today is the championship games at the MSBL/MABL Las Vegas Kickoff (Week 1). Stories about the finals should be posted online next week. We sent Kickoff Managers an email urging them to upload any photos they or their families take in Las Vegas to our photo hosting site. I’ve been getting a LOT of league photos uploaded to date, and there are many many photo albums as a result–all submitted by MSBL/MABL members. I pick the best of the photos and submit them for consideration as possible Photos of the Week on the MSBL home page. Check it out, the link is on MSBL website home page. I also posted a “How-To” article to help members through the process of uploading their photos. Over and out for now.

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2011 MSBL/MABL World Series Ends this Weekend; Fall Classic begins soon!

The 2011 MSBL/MABL World Series will wind up this Saturday and the action will move to Florida, for its sister East Coast tournament, the MSBL/MABL Fall Classic.

Each Tournament now has its own web page where you can find the schedules and results. Here are the links:

www.msblworldseries.com and www.msblfallclassic.com

In addition, you can view photos from the first of two awards banquets here: http://worldseries2011.powervision360.com/

You can click on the menu at the bottom to order individual photos, or order the entire slideshow (set to music) as a DVD.

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Skype Us!


I wish more people had Skype on their computer. I have had Skype for years. It is a FREE application that allows me to talk and video chat FREE over my PC with friends and relatives all over the globe…provided THEY have Skype also. So my goal is to get everyone on Skype. This includes you MSBL/MABL members! It’s really easy, you just go to http://www.skype.com and download their software. If you have a webcam you can video chat. Editor Jeff McGaw and I were video chatting this morning (he from Pennsylvania, me from California) about how nice it would be to be able to video chat with MSBL members around the country. So if any of you out there have Skype, email me at info@hardball.net with your Skype ID. Think of the endless and wonderful uses for this. We could, for instance, interview members this way. You could have more than one person involved in the conversation just by sitting them in front of the webcam. Did I mention it’s FREE? Anyway, get Skype and email me when you do!


The Winter 2010-2011 issue of HardBall Magazine has mailed, so watch for it in your mailbox – it ships Periodicals Rate so it may take some time to reach you. I always breathe a sight of relief when that issue is out the door….and then I turn my full attention to my next task: the Spring/Yearbook issue, always a challenge. This year we are making the Yearbook more of a directory. Leagues will be listed whether they sent us their year-end reports or not.


At this year’s World Series, a team from our local North County San Diego MSBL league took home rings in the 60+ Wood Mountain Division: the San Diego North Indians, managed by Dave Hovland. They graciously dedicated their victory to the memory of my late husband, HardBall Publisher Dan Piro, who founded the San Diego North MSBL way back when. I was honored  to be invited to the team’s “Ring Party” held at Jim and Linda McArdle’s lovely home in Carlsbad. And  I was  totally overwhelmed when they presented me with a World Series Ring engraved with Dan’s name, and initials. Oh how Dan would have loved that. His son Danny will be the Keeper of the Ring. Who knows, maybe someday Danny will have one of his own. For now, the ring has a place of honor in our family room, next to a photo of Dan. League President Doug Johnson was also there and honored with a ring.

Thanks to the players and their wives for making me feel so welcome. What a great group of people! But that is what that the MSBL has plenty of: good people. Here is a photo I took of the cake!

Victory Cake

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Guest Blogger: Brian Kingman, Arizona MSBL


Brian Kingman

Posted by Brian Kingman, November 2010

“Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand.”

“Do not save your loving speeches
For your friends till they are dead;
Do not write them on their tombstones,
Speak them rather now instead.
— Anna Cummins

After playing in this year’s MSBL World Series in Phoenix, there is one common characteristic that I think would be surprising to those who hear about a bunch of aging men playing baseball in the middle of the desert.

 I am sure they would expect that a good time was had by all, but they would probably focus more on the results. Their first question  would likely be: “Did you win?” closely followed by “How did you do?”

But something greater than just the games takes place. What is it?

It is the quality of the experience that transcends the game itself.

Here are some examples of what I mean, from emails shared by some of my teammates:

 Mark Schneiderman:
“What’s the most difficult week of the year? The week you come back to reality after the best week of the year in Phoenix! When else but at this tournament do you get to act like a 10 year old, but are able to drive and drink (not at the same time, of course)? I thank all of you for giving up family/vacation time to help me live out my ‘fantasy.’”

Randy Hobday:
“As I was flying home today, I was asked by the person sitting next to me on the plane what I was in Phoenix for. I began to explain about the World Series, and they asked how we did. When I said we lost 3-2 in the semifinals. They said “Oh, I am sorry to hear that.” I said “Thanks,” and went on to talk about our team. By the time we were finished, the person said “Now I know why you don’t look sad, it sounds like the guys you play with are great.” That said it all for me! This is the most amazing collection of great guys that I have EVER been fortunate enough to call teammates. Thank you for your support when I was going bad and for your high fives when things went well. Thanks for making me laugh so much that my sides ached (my tribute to Felix the Cat) and for bringing tears to my eyes when we all talked about how much we mean to each other.”

Peter Cook
“I just finished an extraordinary book about a journalist who followed a platoon for a year in battle in Afghanistan (Sebastian Junger, the same author who wrote Perfect Storm). He discovered that what made these soldiers do extraordinary feats and perform under fire wasn’t amazing courage but love. These soldiers loved their fellow soldiers with such depth of feeling that it never occurred to any one of them not to be there for their brother in arms. That intensity of feeling, of “being alive” makes returning to normalcy of civilian life so very difficult for our soldiers.

“I think Mark touches on a strand of the same theme when he spoke about our having to return from Phoenix. Now, before anyone gets up in arms about my comparing baseball to combat or before Paul makes a gay joke, I want to say that I agree with Mark’s sentiment. I love being with you guys and the intensity of our “combat” brings us so close that I miss it when we are not playing. DTW has allowed me some extraordinary friendships and these trips, whether to Palm Springs or Phoenix, allow me, and I think all of us, to love the baseball, the experience and each other in a way that “normal” life doesn’t allow. 

 “I find that very rewarding and I want to thank you all for that. “

Rick Fahrney
From Bart Giamatti’s “The Green Fields of the Mind” 
“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

“Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us,  the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun. “

“Teammates:  Upon returning to the real world after our sojourn in the desert I read the above quote and felt it captured my feelings. After a week playing ball in Phoenix with some of my best friends, the cold harshness of the real world is a poor substitute. But the good news is that baseball, being the constant that it is, will be back….and so will we.”

 What great emails!

 I think I speak for everyone when I say thanks for not saving your loving speeches until we were dead or writing them on our tombstones. Reading Bart Giamatti’s excerpt from “The Green Fields of the Mind,”  you could almost substitute the word “love” in place of “game” or “sports.” You could easily say that love was designed to break your heart, and for many of us baseball was our first love. We were infatuated with it at a very young age and it was a big part of our lives. But like any relationship there are ups and downs, complications, sacrifices and disappointments.

Some become discouraged and give up on the game, but most of us, those of us who are still playing, seem to be seeking the same thing as Giamatti when he says:

” I need to think something lasts forever,and it might as well be that state of being that is a game.”

Ah, Man’s quest for the eternal!

How can you describe that state of being that is a game? If a picture is worth a thousand words describing an emotion might take 100,000 – but I will try to restrain myself. As with any description it will vary from person to person but here’s my view:

I once read that ‘Only in games is Man truly free, because he is the creator, having made and thus understanding the rules.” So in games Man understands the meaning of his endeavors and his individual significance, something we seem to struggle with in the real world. 

Look at how happy children are when they are playing.  Play time is a magical time, a time of enjoyment and total absorption in an activity were nothing else seems to matter. A separate reality is created where time stands still, as if it didn’t exist. This timeless existence, ever so brief allows us a flirtation with eternity.

Add to the mix the camaraderie of great teammates working towards and contributing to a common goal and you have something special on and off the field. New friends are made and old friends are reunited, old memories are remembered and new ones created.

 As for the really tough among us, those who can live without illusion, it has been said that life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal. Maybe it is because the “really tough’ know we are eternal and it isn’t an illusion after all. Some find a link to the eternal through religion or spirituality and in baseball there are elements of both.

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.” Playing baseball for me is like going home once again. Surrounded by the familiar, looking back from the mound and seeing a teammate of forty years at shortstop and a teammate of over thirty five years playing first base can give you the illusion of immortality. After a few beers even the sense that it is an illusion is gone.

Our time together is magical but unfortunately comes to an end all too soon.

A year may pass before we do it all again, but what is a year among the eternal? Until we meet again…

Brian Kingman

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Fall-Holiday Issue Mailing Now

Fall-Holiday Double Issue Mailing Now

The long-awaited Fall-Holiday double issue is mailing this week. Look for it in your mailbox soon. We were able to get all the MSBL World Series scores in and even included short recaps of each game, but the pages went to the printer too early to include the Fall Classic scores (that’s actually a good thing, because delaying the magazine for the scores would have made it very late). So we are working on getting those score online, all in one place.

Of course, the full reports on the two biggest MSBL National tournaments will appear, as usual, in our upcoming Winter issue (still in the writing/formatting stage). This year we had a big change, our usual photographers at the World Series, Chris Denevi and C.J. Jones, have disbanded and were unable to cover the tournament. Chris alerted me in advance and we were able to pull together a team of photographers (I’ll introduce them in a later post, but links to their photos and websites are already online here:  http://www.hardball.net/AdLinks.html– scroll down to view ). They did a great job and you’ll see the photos in the Winter issue, plus we managed to put a few in the Fall/Holiday issue, including a great cover shot by photographer Jamie Hines.  

But we do miss Denevi  & Jones – they were a valuable part of our team and their photos taken at past tournaments can still be viewed and purchased online at http://printroom.com/pro/deneviandjones.  Plus they were great people, nurses in the daytime, baseball fanatics the rest of the time! We wish them both well.

Save Time and $$$ – Do Your Holiday Shopping at HardBall online!

Our advertisers want your business and they are giving discounts now! We have links to their websites and more shopping options here: http://www.hardball.net/AdLinks.html and here: http://www.hardball.net/AdLinks.html — lots of baseball-related items. And some ideas for the woman in your life, too!

Coming Back from Shoulder/Knee Surgery? We want to hear from you!

For an article we are planning on how to get back to playing after surgery, we’d like to hear from MSBL/MABL members who have undergone surgery like knee replacements, rotator cuff, etc. What was your experience? How long did it take you to get back to playing? What advice do you have for other MSBL players who are facing surgery and rehab? Let us know, email me at info@hardball.net.

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Fred Libertino Update

Fred Libertino

I’m sorry to report that Freddie Libertino,  of the San Diego North MSBL Team No Fear, passed away on October 8, 2010,  only weeks after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. The entire MSBL community mourns his death.

We will be publishing a tribute to Freddie in HardBall Magazine.  His wife Leslie writes me that a “Celebration of Life” service for him is being held on October 16 (Saturday) at 11:00am: Green Hills Memorial Park, 27501 S. Western Ave. Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. 90275.  Among other attendees will be his No Fear team, and I will go up also to pay my respects.  Rest in peace Freddie.

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“Fortunate Misfortune”

John DeBenedictis, President, Tri-State MSBL


by John DeBenedictis

In the past four days,  I have had the misfortune of having to attend funeral services for two of our stellar players and persons in the Tri-State 48+/55+ MSBL: Billy Cameron and Alan Lerner.

As I sit here, unable to sleep and reflecting on the experience, I realize it has been a “fortunate misfortune.”  If you are wondering what I mean by that, I understand. I’m not sure myself what I mean by that, so let me try to explain.

Admittedly, I started this league for selfish reasons. I had played 30+ baseball as a 50+ year old (including one year with a 30-year-old son as a teammate) and I played 40+ baseball until I was 60 years old. That level was obviously passing me by. There was no 50+ league, so I started one. The same was true for the 55+ division. Now, even that has passed me by. Some of you have asked why I continue to do the work to keep the Tri-State league going. I think I now clearly understand.

The Impact of the MSBL

First, let me say that many of you have sent me testimonials over the years that convinced me how important this league is and the positive impact it has had on many of you.

It has encouraged some of you to lose as much as 60 pounds to improve your playing conditioning and has created an untold number of friendships, and even helped families bond through the Father Son efforts.

Many of you take advantage of the opportunity to play National Tournaments and many have experienced the thrill of winning national titles.

I appreciate those testimonials, and they have convinced me that this league is an important adjunct to our lives. They make me feel I have the opportunity to “give back” to the game that has been so good to me over the years. It is a way of saying “thank you” to all the people who made the possible the leagues in which I have participated over the years.

A few days ago, I attended the service for Billy Cameron, and was pleased to see a huge turn-out from our local MSBL league. I enjoyed the conversations and was exhilarated by the expressions of love for their fellow ballplayer. The respect everyone had for Billy was overwhelming.

Today, I stood in the audience again at the service for Alan Lerner as his brother Ben Lerner recounted the story of his brother Alan and he playing “sock baseball” as youngsters in their bedroom with a rolled-up sock and souvenir mini-bat, while standing on their beds and hoping their activity didn’t disturb their Dad. I almost felt I was standing there watching them having fun. It brought back memories of my own efforts to “invent” ways to play the game regardless of how many players were available or what limited equipment we had or even what the weather had in store for us.

Ben went on to explain how important baseball was, and how they played Little League ball together. But he said, as they got older Alan had the talent to continue to play in high school and the Penn-Del League, while he, Ben, was relegated to the sidelines as a fan enjoying his brother’s success. He obviously took great pride in his brother’s achievements. I remembered the pride I took in my brothers.

As Ben told us of how Alan and he finally got back on the field together in the 55+ division of the MSBL, the tears streamed down my face. I recalled the excitement in Alan’s voice back when he first told me that he was going to get his brother Ben to come out for the team. The brothers were reuniting on the ball field after a half century. That was powerful. I stood there picturing these little kids with their toy bat and sock morphing into gray-haired old men running around a ball field, instead of sitting in front of a TV watching others play. It was a moving experience.

You can rest assured that as “Father Time” relegates me to the bench–or even pushes me aside–that I will continue to do all I can to perpetuate the opportunity this league provides to everyone who has a desire to play.

The greatest tribute any of you can ever pay to me and to our sport will be to continue to provide the opportunity for anyone to play this great game of ours long after my turn arrives to move along to whatever lies ahead.

I will guarantee that if you take up this challenge, and if you keep in mind the benefits I outlined above, you will find it more than worth the occasional grief and aggravation that comes with the territory.

Let’s Play Two!!!

John DeBenedictis

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MSBL Members Support Ailing Teammate

Jackie Piro

Jackie Piro, Publisher, HardBall Magazine

Yesterday, in preparation for a story we are doing on MSBL member Frank Bons, I drove to Escondido High School, where two San Diego North MSBL teams, the Giants and Frank’s team, the Sharks, were about  to do battle. The game had been moved from its originally scheduled location at Carlsbad High School.

The reason it changed locations also changed my plans for the day.

Details were sketchy, but the news was that 49-year-old Fred Libertino, of Team No Fear, had collapsed at a game two weeks earlier, and subsequent testing revealed he had some kind of terminal brain disease.  

He wanted to play or attend one more game with his teammates, I was told. Since Fred lives in Carlsbad, his team requested their Saturday game be moved Carlsbad High so that Fred would not have to travel far.

So, instead of heading home, I hopped in my car and raced from Escondido to Carlsbad. I don’t know Fred, but he is part of my family, my MSBL family. Having recently lost my own husband to cancer, I felt especially motivated to go to the field to meet him and his family and offer any help I could. When I arrived at the field, the game had already begun. A group of No Fear players told me that Fred was unable to come to the game, but that they had held a ceremony for him on the field before the game and had a photographer taking photos to show Fred later. The mound was graced with his uniform number, which is also his age: #49.

They also told me the disease that  Fred was diagnosed with:  it is  Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a  rare, degenerative brain disorder that is incurable and invariably fatal.  

Steve Mata, who co-manages No Fear with his brother Tony, led me to the dugout as their game (No Fear vs. the Escondido Indians) was in progress. There I met  some teammates and the photographer, Joe Bailey Noble, who is not a teammate but a friend of someone on the team. “I don’t know even know him,” the moist-eyed Joe said, referring to Fred, “but since I heard the news I can’t stop crying.” He generously agreed to let me publish some of his photos in HardBall.

Who among  us has not, at some time in their life, had similar news about a loved one? Who has not seen how such news changes one’s life in an instant? Who has not  felt helpless in the face of it?

All we can do is try to help in whatever way we can, even if it’s only to say that we care. I don’t know what course this story will take, but we will be publishing a story on Fred and his battle in the upcoming Fall/Holiday  issue of HardBall. Stay tuned.

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Hello world!

This is our new HardBall Magazine blog. HardBall is the official membership magazine of the Men’s Senior and Men’s Adult Baseball Leagues (MSBL and MABL) a nationwide organization of die-hard baseball players ranging in age from 18 to 70, playing in local leagues all over the United States.  The magazine has a website at www.hardball.net and the MSBL has one at www.msblnational.com. So why do we need a blog? Because we needed an easy fast way to communicate with our membership and potential members.  I am Jackie Piro and I am the publisher and managing editor. Senior editor Jeff McGaw and I will be blogging here and I will also invite some of our members to be “guest bloggers.” Stay tuned!

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