A remarkable Reunion in Scottsdale
Scottsdale AZ., Oct. 26, 2011 -- in an accident of scheduling, five current or former Sacramento MSBL Presidents turned up in one game at Scottsdale Stadium where the Giants play their spring training games.Left to Right: Val Lewis (president 1984-1990); Jerry Karnow (1991-2003); Jim Lortz (2004-2006); Lanny Ropke (2007-2008) and Jim Tygrett (2009-present).
Sacramento MSBL Presidents make history
By Jeff McGaw, MSBL On-Line
It wasn't on the calendar, and no formal ceremonies marked the occasion, but on a warm October morning at Scottsdale Stadium, the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants, a remarkable and historic event occurred -- It was President's Day for the Sacramento MSBL.
That Sacramento league was formed as the Stan Musial Veteran's Baseball League by some baseball-hungry 40-somethings in 1984 – two years prior to the creation of the National MSBL. In 1985 it became the Sacramento Veteran's Baseball League and in 1989 became the Sacramento Men's Senior Baseball League. Five men served full terms as presidents of that league from 1984 until now transforming it from a fledgling, four-team league into a model of ambition and success with 550 players, its own lighted field complex, a hall of fame, and 45 MSBL World Series titles – believed to be the most by any MSBL league.
Val Lewis, Jerry Karnow, Jim Lortz, Lanny Ropke and Jim Tygrett all presided over that league. Each "did some significant thing to help build the league,” said Lewis -- the George Washington of the Sacramento MSBL.
What wasn't immediately apparent on the early morning of Oct. 26, 2011 in Scottsdale was the fact that all five of those men were on the field at one time as the 65 American Division Sacramento Solons prepared to play the Cal Bears.
The reality of it hit Karnow like a brick to the head.
"I went over to Jim (Tygrett) and said ‘do you know there are five of us out of six league presidents here?' He was astonished about it.”
The sixth president – George Esposito – served for less than year in an interim capacity. All the other Presidents served terms of between two and 13 years.
The Solons lineup featured Lewis (1984-1990), Lanny Ropke (2007-2008) and Tygrett who took over as president in 2009. Across the infield the Cal Bears lineup featured Karnow (1991-2003) and Jim Lortz (2004-2006).
The gathering was "a pretty remarkable fact " said Lortz, "or a remarkable feat to say the least. Just thinking about what happen there in Scottsdale causes me to take pause and reflect on our great League and those involved that were in the position of leadership.”
It's amazing in another way too. Lewis, Karnow and Ropke all have 20-plus years in the MSBL. Lortz and Tygrett are sneaking up on two decades. None imagined that they would be playing in a 65-and-older division. That division wouldn't exist at the national level for nearly two more decades.
In fact, at the time they began, the idea of playing as a 50-year-old was a preposterous said Lewis, and 60 was totally out of the question.
It's why the league created the "Bofinger rule,” Karnow recalled.
Ted Bofinger was 66 and wanted to play. So the rule was that if Ted got a hit, the normal rules of baseball would apply and the hit would be counted. If Bofinger made an out, that out would not count and the next guy would hit as if nothing happened.
"Now look at us,” Karnow said, adding that all five presidents are in Bofinger country. I never would have thought we'd be playing at this age.”
The Solons beat the Bears that day 10-1, but the outcome of the game was dwarfed by the momentousness of the occasion.
"Playing at 63?” asked Tygrett, who had a waiver to play in the 65's. "No I didn't think that was possible. I thought I'd go to Phoenix one time – this is back in 1996. I had no idea. I kept saying ‘this is my last year, this is my last year. Now I just don't say anything. I don't know if I'll ever stop to be honest with you.”