1988: The Lehigh Valley MSBL is Founded
The Lehigh Valley chapter of the Men’s Senior Baseball League is founded as a 30-and-older league by Joe and Rhonda Casazza, of Emmaus, who had heard about the Long Island, N.Y.-based National MSBL organization on the radio. Joe made an accurate prediction that there were a lot of men like him who wanted to play baseball but didn’t have enough spare time for the four-games-per-week Blue Mountain and Tri-County leagues. The inaugural LV MSBL season featured 6 teams who played 16 games each in a Sunday-only league, with games held at the Scheresville complex, Fullerton A.A., Ironton, and the Bethlehem Township municipal field.
1990: 50 Hours of Baseball is Founded
The Lehigh Valley MSBL holds its inaugural 50 Hours of Baseball event to benefit local children’s charities. The league all-star game and a celebrity game bookended 15 other 3-hour games running from the evening of Friday, July 27, through the evening of Sunday, July 29, at Bucky Boyle Park in Allentown. The inaugural event benefits Dream Come True of the Lehigh Valley, Camelot House, IOTA, and Ronald McDonald Charities. It aims to raise $10,000 annually.
1990: LV MSBL Grew Rapidly in Third Season
The LV MSBL adds a four-team 25-29 division to complement its growing 30-and-older division, which stands at 15 teams in 1990. In just its third year, the LV MSBL has more than tripled the number of teams from the inaugural season, from six teams in one division to 19 in two divisions.
1993: New President Oversees Even More Growth
Gordon Santee, a player since the league was founded, becomes league president and serves three years in the role. Santee, a respected Easton Area High School chemistry teacher known for his trademark red bowtie, oversees 50% growth for the league -- from 20 teams when he assumed the presidency to 30 teams and more than 400 players when he departed after the 1995 season. League statistician Rich Racosky, of Bethlehem, serves one year as LV MSBL president following Santee's three years.
1997: Former Pirates Farmhand Drives Charity
Easton Area High School standout and former Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand Ernest “Turk” Starniri becomes league president. One of the driving forces of 50 Hours of Baseball since the event’s inception, Starniri carries the event through his 9-year tenure as president. In its 17-year run, 50 Hours of Baseball raises more than $150,000 for local children’s charities.
2005: New President Swings for the Fences
Ron Cahill, a businessman and former standout Phillipsburg High School baseball player who joined the league in 1999, becomes LV MSBL President. He inherits an 18-team league and sets a goal to grow it to 60 or more teams.
2006: New Website Adopted Nationally
Essent Corporation of Bethlehem, Pa., where League President Ron Cahill is Vice President, creates new websites for the LV MSBL and the National MSBL. At first serving as portals to MSBL news and information, the websites later add rich levels of statistics including box scores, league leaders, and standings, as well as team and league management tools such as attendance tracking, game notification emails, and other communication tools. It's easier than ever for players and fans to find the news and numbers about their favorite baseball league.
2007: Switch to Wood Bats Ramps Up Competition
The league switches to wood bats as a way increase and diversify competition. Games prove to be lower-scoring with closer final scores, and moving away from the exit velocity of metal bats allows for crossover competition between age groups. The 25 division competes against the 18 division in crossover play, which becomes a league staple in the following years. The result is greater variety of competition for every team.
2009: All-Star Games Move to AAA Stadium
Thousands of fans attend as the LV MSBL All-Star Games are played at Coca-Cola Park for the first time. The state-of-the-art Minor League Baseball stadium is home to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the top minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and seats 10,000 people with lights, a giant video board, and all the accoutrements expected of a new AAA baseball stadium. “It’s as close as you can get to the majors,” LV MSBL President Ron Cahill remarks upon securing Coca-Cola Park for the LV MSBL All-Star games, which have been held at Coca-Cola Park every season since.
2010: Doubleheaders Shortened, Another Boost to Competition
In another move for more intense competition -- and also aimed at quality of play -- doubleheaders become a pair of 7-inning games instead of 9-inning games. Players remain fresher throughout the course of the action and the reduction in innings helps ensure teams have quality pitching arms to cover the two contests. The result is more competitive doubleheaders with greater quality of play.
2011: Charitable Efforts Continue
A breast cancer awareness drives is added to All-Star Game festivities at Coca-Cola Park, expanding on charitable efforts that also include a blood drive for the Miller Keystone Blood Center. Several years later another All-Star Game fundraiser is held for a player who is diagnosed with bone cancer in his early 20s. The efforts continue to charitable foundation established with 50 Hours of Baseball and other events in the league's early years.
2013: President Cahill Enters National MSBL HOF
LV MSBL President Ron Cahill is inducted into the National MSBL Hall of Fame. The league stands at 42 teams at the time, which makes LV MSBL by far the largest amateur baseball league in Pennsylvania. The 42 teams are more than double the number of teams Mr. Cahill inherited when he assumed the presidency in 2005. His induction notes point to the record league growth and the relationship with Coca-Cola Park.
2013: Black & Blue Division Formed for Elite Play
The Lehigh Valley MSBL creates the Black & Blue Division for the league’s top teams. The elite division soon begins to attract teams and players from the Lehigh Valley’s other highly-skilled baseball leagues.
2014: Tri-County League Joins MSBL
The Tri-County League, founded in 1958 and considered one of the Lehigh Valley’s most skilled amateur baseball leagues, joins ranks with the ever-growing Lehigh Valley MSBL. The addition of the Tri-County League teams to MSBL players who competed in Minor League Baseball and Division I college programs, in addition to other current and former college players.
Now: League Participation is Greater Than Ever
With the addition of the Tri-County League, the Lehigh Valley MSBL swells to a record 47 teams comprised of nearly 1,000 players across four age groups and nine divisions, including the Black & Blue Division for elite-level players, extending LV MSBL’s reach as the largest amateur baseball league in Pennsylvania and one of the largest MSBL chapters nationwide.
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