Honor Roll: Mike Lieberman, Delaware/Chester MSBL
|Delaware/Chester (PA.) MSBL President Mike Lieberman (right) accepts the 2011 Fall Classic championship trophy for the 35American Division from MSBL National Coordinator Brian Sigler.
By Matt Kemeny, MSBL On-Line
For several years, Mike Lieberman's passion for playing baseball was reflected in his car's odometer.
A 5 foot, 10 inch, 170 pound catcher who played college ball at the University of Virginia's Wise campus, Lieberman was living in southern New Jersey and playing in an 18+ league in North Jersey.
Every Sunday, he'd make the nearly two hour trek from Voorhees up the New Jersey Turnpike to Matawan, Bayonne and Edison depending on the home field.
When Lieberman went to the MSBL Caribbean Winter Championship in Puerto Rico in 1998, he told a player on an opposing team about his arduous weekly commute.
The player responded: You don't have to do that. There's a league right here (in your area) for you, Lieberman recalled. Lieberman, who had since moved to Philadelphia for work, joined the Delaware/Chester County MSBL the following summer.
"It was music to my ears that I didn't have to travel,” Lieberman recalled thinking. After about a decade playing in the league, Lieberman became the league's president in 2009 after Ron Surkin moved up to the 48+ league.
Lieberman didn't initially welcome the title with open arms. In 2006, when the previous league president decided to resign, Surkin and Lieberman debated who would take the reins.
"I graciously allowed Ron to take over,” Lieberman said with a chuckle.
But in the three years he's been in charge the league has grown from eight teams to 12 teams. It went from a strictly Delaware County league to include teams from Chester County and Philadelphia. They players were excited to introduce new competition. There are 22 regular season games this year before the playoffs, which include the top eight teams.
|"They were tired of playing the same
Mike Lieberman during the 2011 Fall Classic
teams three, four times a year,” said Lieberman, a utility player on the Pro Cane Cobras. "The competition just continues to get better every year.
Running a league has its challenges, he said. In addition to the time commitment, you have to make sure the league has enough money to pay its bills, schedule games around rain outs and other duties, said Lieberman, an auditor for the Department of Health and Human Services office of the Inspector General.
Perhaps his most memorable moment in the league was in 2008, which his team won the Fall Classic in Florida with the same group of guys that have gone down on the trip together for years.
"It was just an overwhelming joy of winning it as a team with all your good friends,” Lieberman said.
Now 45, Lieberman's goal is to keep expanding the league and making sure the guys continue to have fun.
"That's what it's about at our age,” he said.