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Danny Pawelek: MSBL 'Iron Man'

 

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

With apologies to Robert Downey, Jr. there is another 'Iron Man' roaming the planet and he resides in Utah.  This one is mere flesh and bones without a cool super-hero outfit but is every bit as effective, as enemy batters continue to try to figure out how to defeat him and more often than not without success.

Danny Pawelek is a 63 year old gun for hire who resides in Utah and plays in the Utah MSBL, where he has called home since 1994.  That is also the year he began attending the MSBL World Series in Arizona and where the legend began.  "I have never missed a year in Arizona and usually play all three weeks,” explained Pawelek.  "My baseball family is very important to me and I live for being able to always pick up where you left off with your friends.”  Danny possesses 15 World Series rings and has been on at least ten other championship teams in Las Vegas and Palm Springs.  "I have been very fortunate to be a part of some really great teams made up of really great guys.”

I should explain right now that Danny is a pitcher.  Not your typical single game, round-robin pitcher with a hopeful playoff appearance.  Not even close.  This is your ‘every game’ rubber arm type who just goes out and pitches.  "Last year during a six week period of fall tournament ball I threw 153 innings,” Danny explained.  "I admit that I was a little tired over the holidays but I just love to throw.”

MSBL Social Media Director Wes Thomas is a championship caliber catcher and has had the privilege of catching Danny recently in Arizona.  "I love catching the guy, because you can call a pitch and a location and it’s there,” explained Wes. "He doesn't miss much. You don't get to catch guys of his potential every day. He throws hard, and heavy...movement for a 60+ year old pitcher is hard to come by, especially with command. He makes me feel youthful seeing his "stuff." I love the competitiveness...every time he takes the field you feel you have a huge advantage over your opponent. He makes everyone feel better, maybe that's why he and the team he plays on wins so many championships!"

Danny’s Utah league team is the 35-over Black Sox, so he is merely giving up 25 years to these guys but that’s just fine with him.  He still throws 80 miles per hour and his ball moves like crazy.  "We won six out of the last nine league championships in Utah.  That’s really special to me because we have stuck together and are a family.  That’s why I stay with it.”

 

Danny isn’t all about Danny or the press clippings.  He is a humble, self-employed representative for a chemical company that sells items to automotive and industrial companies, which leaves him time to help kids.  Almost every evening he can be found at the indoor facility showing kids how to pitch, hit and be better people.  "I spend a lot of time sitting on a bucket catching kids and trying to show them a little something that might make them better pitchers and also better human beings. That also keeps my arm loose.  I really don’t have an off season.”

Danny doesn’t have the college or pro pedigree and has simply gotten more effective through hard work and longevity.  "I was a wild kid and didn’t pay attention so I sort of drifted,” said Pawelek.  "I didn’t have a coach or a mentor, really.  My friend Dave Smith got me involved with MSBL in 1994 and I thought ‘what the heck, we’ll give it a shot.’  I loved it and it gave me a direction.  I am so thankful to Dave for getting me back into the game.”

Danny is the complete package and is a very established hitter as well.  His league and tournament batting average since 1994 is over .500 and he is seen in the lineup batting during those rare instances he isn’t pitching.  He also hits when he IS pitching.  The 6’ 4” Pawelek  used to play in the field when he wasn’t pitching, usually catching or at first base, but an injury in 2009 put an end to that.  "I was playing first base and made a swipe tag from a wild throw and the guy hit me like a linebacker and broke my leg,” explained Danny.  "That was the end of that.  My leg still hurts and it has really slowed me down.  I am the perfect example of turning triples into doubles.”

To go along with his average, Danny flexes the muscle on occasion.  Since he has gotten back into the game in 1994 he has launched 82 home runs!  "Last year I only hit two.  I think the years and the injury to my leg are starting to take their toll.”

Pawelek threw a no-hitter in the championship game of the MSBL Desert Classic in 2012 and barely missed a perfect game.  "It was a routine grounder to short that went right between his legs,” Danny laughed.  "But this is a team game.  We win together and lose together.  That’s OK. We still won and we did that together.”

Danny throws around 450 innings every year and last year was 37-9 and the year before that was 31-14.  He has won over 80 games in just the last three years.  He guesses that he is nearing 300 wins in his career, if he isn’t already there.  "I don’t always win and I don’t blow people away,” he humbly explains.  "I get guys to hit grounders or pop up and hope they don’t square one up.  But some days I get rocked and that’s all part of it.  But I take the ball when asked and I don’t need a lot of rest.  I take a lot of Aloe Vera juice for recovery and it works miracles.  I don’t have a single pill in my medicine chest.  Any pitchers looking for a quick recovery should look into Aloe Vera natural supplements.  I’ve used them for 17 years.”

You’ll find Danny in Las Vegas for the MSBL Kickoff Classic this March and the Las Vegas Open in May and then back in Arizona in October, with many stops along the way.  "I’ll be playing with my friends from Utah in the 50+ division in Arizona in week one but I’m unsure where I’ll be the next two weeks.  I’m sure someone can use this old arm.”

I asked Danny if there is a philosophy he lives by as it relates to his MSBL experiences.  "At certain times of your life you take action and act boldly on the options in front of you.  Steve Sigler did that when he went full speed ahead with his dream of MSBL.  His actions have impacted so many people and made us all look hard at our baseball and life’s options and opportunities.  The MSBL friendships that have been made are a result of Steve’s taking action.  I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of MSBL now and for many years to come.” 

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