Almost every young boy plays baseball with the dream of making it to the major leagues, but once he reaches the age of 25, that usually goes the way of most youthful dreams. But a lot of men still want to play the game they love, and there is an organization based in western Shawnee that allows men to continue to play.
The Men’s Senior Baseball League is based at the Mid-America Sports Complex. This is the 25th anniversary season for the organization that started in 1988. It is part of a national MSBL program that started in 1986 and came to Kansas City in 1988.
The MSBL started on Long Island.
“Steve Sigler started the program,” commissioner Tom Prendergast said. “After an article about the new adult baseball league in Sports Illustrated in July 1988, the concept really caught on nationwide.
“Pat Rushing started the MSBL in Kansas City. We just had six teams at the start.”
The program now has over 325 leagues worldwide that include 3,200 teams with 45,000 members. Prendergast came to Kansas City in 1988 from St. Louis.
“It was an ad in The Kansas City Star for tryouts for an over-30 baseball league with workouts in Swope Park,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone here and wanted to keep playing baseball.”
In this 25th anniversary season, the program has 52 teams. There are six teams in the 45 and over age group and 11 in 35 and older. There are 14 teams in 25 and older plus 22 in the 18 and over league.
“The MSBL is an opportunity to play baseball and not play softball,” Prendergast said. “Baseball takes more time, but there is something about playing on a grass field.”
The program is now in its playoffs and will crown champions in October. Seven teams will be heading for Tempe, Ariz., for the MSBL World Series. Kansas City has been sending teams to the MSBL World Series since 1988.
“Kansas City teams have won 12 national championships in three age groups — 30 and over, 40 and over and 50 and over,” Prendergast said.
The games at the MASC feature teams with professional-looking uniforms and umpires but without the crowds of major league baseball.
Luis Alvarado, 35, lives in Shawnee and loves the game.
“It got me out of Venezuela and into college at Dodge City (community college) and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.”
Overland Park resident Ryan Dicioccio, 31, intends to keep playing for a long time.
“I love the sport. I’m going to play as long as I can.”