The 2020 Baseball Season From Commissioner Rob Schliessman
As we celebrate the seventeeth year of the Middle School Baseball League, we look back to 2005 when it all began. The MSBL has developed into a community of athletes and coaches committed to sportsmanship, healthy lifestyle, academic progress, and love of the game of baseball.
On behalf of the 70+ participating public schools and over 1200 student-athletes, it is a pleasure to once again welcome the Middle School Baseball League to the fields of New York City. This league is the first of its kind and is a unique opportunity for our public schools to highlight the all-star athletes and coaches that compete in this great city.
It has always been my goal, as a coach and an educator, to advance Physical Education and Athletic Programs in public schools. In 2004, we developed the concept of a Middle School Baseball league, and in 2005, we presented it. Immediately, the response regarding the League was overwhelming. Unfortunately, the funding for extracurricular activities in our public schools was not overwhelming. Nevertheless, we carried on.
During year one, the Middle School Baseball League consisted of four teams, and very little equipment and uniforms. In an effort to foster my commitment to the League, we developed a schedule where the teams repeatedly played each other as many as three times during the regular season. Despite the lack of participation from other schools, these four teams showed up for every practice, every scrimmage, and every game. Playing the same team was not an issue for these student-athletes, because playing baseball was the priority for them. The League was their only opportunity to compete on an organized team and for a sport that they were truly passionate about. As we begin year ten with the support of Pinnacle, the League has grown to 65 schools and students from all walks of life attend the tryouts. The League has quickly become tremendously diverse and the response from other schools, the city, and the corporate community is astounding.
In 2007, The New York Times printed an article about the spirit and resilience of the League, but unfortunately, the resilience did not fund the program. Shortly after, I personally received a telephone call from the Pinnacle Group and had the honor of meeting with their team, a NYC based company that owns and manages residential real estate in the New York City boroughs. With involvement in community affairs at the forefront of their corporate mission, the company immediately showed interest in supporting the League. The Pinnacle Group, directed by CEO Joel Weiner, donated $60k and became the primary sponsor of the League. Pinnacle’s generosity dressed 200 committed and dedicated athletes in top-of-the-line uniforms including socks, hats, belts, pants, and jerseys. Pinnacle also provided brand new gloves, bats, helmets, and catching gear. From the first pitch thrown by CEO Joel Weiner, the teams took the field during the 2007 season like never before. Again, Mr. Weiner has generously donated to equip our 1200+ athletes.
Each year, the League competes in over 500 games and the level of competition was unsurpassed. In 2013 we changed the concept of the league by creating an exhibition season, followed by a league tournament in which all teams competed. This tournament allowed teams to prepare in the exhibition season by teaching the foundations of the game. The top teams in the tournament represented each borough and competed in the Final Four, eventually moving on to the Championship game at Fordham University. The Championship drew press, potential corporate partners, families, students and friends from schools throughout the city. The most accomplished players of the season were selected to participate in the League's city-wide All-Star game, which successfully wrap up each season.
I am proud to be the Commissioner of a League that exemplifies the importance of teamwork, strength and determination, and I am proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Pinnacle Group in creating such a successful program. This League illustrates to all New York City schools and student-athletes alike, that anything is possible when people work together towards a common goal. We intend to continue to work tirelessly toward this goal. With the continued support from our community, we have now developed a League in four boroughs and face off yearly in Middle School Baseball League World Series with the New York City skyline as its backdrop. This event serves as a memory for all of these student-athletes to remember.
On behalf of all of the MSBL commissioners and the Pinnacle Group, we are truly delighted to have the opportunity to promote the growth of sports throughout our city and it is a pleasure to be involved with this League.
Please accept my best wishes for an exciting and successful 2020 season!
Middle School Baseball League