“Heater” Heatley Bio
A good piece of my life has been spent playing baseball. Starting at age 6 in Lehigh County, PA, I’ve been fortunate to play all over the US, a few foreign countries, and even bullpen sessions on the flight decks of several aircraft carriers while deployed. Control was really important on those 6-month cruises. Wild pitches went right over the side and into the “drink” — which coincidently was 60’ 6” below the flight deck. If that wasn’t enough incentive to throw strikes, the extremely rough, non-skid surface that kept our jets from sliding into the sea, would scuff up the balls far beyond anything Joe Niekro could do with an emery board.
At 6-years old, I was underage when my Dad got me on his buddy’s Little League team. There was no Tee-ball or “coach pitch” in those days. As the only left-hander on that team, they turned me into a pitcher. I didn’t have a glove, so I had borrowed one and wear it backwards on my right hand when I was on the mound. In the field I played with the glove properly on my left hand and did my best to throw right-handed.
That was in 1955. The next year the coach gave me a lefty’s mitt and I’ve been gripping a baseball with my left hand; pitching, playing first base and outfield, every year since.
In my only season of Babe Ruth, I notched an opening day no-hitter (after walking the first batter) and still have the baseball autographed by my teammates, including my friend and third baseman whose name is now also on the Vietnam War Memorial.
I made the Emmaus HS Varsity m y freshman year. After going 7-0 in Babe Ruth, the local American Legion team picked me up, where I went 15-0 over the next three years. Back then, fastballs right down the middle that made the batters whiff were what coaches, teammates, and fans, wanted the most.
“No messing around working the black or changing speeds!” There were no pitch-counts either. Power pitching was in and luckily, I had a heater — and a nickname. The name stuck, but after many decades on the bump and four rotator cuff surgeries, I had to develop a curve, slider and a change-up, and start working the black with what was left of my fastball to be competitive in MSBL.
During my senior year in high school there were a number of recruiting visits with offers to play baseball and football at several small Pennsylvania colleges. The frat parties at Gettysburg College on my recruitment weekend were total “Animal House” and blew my young mind, but somehow, I managed to not be swayed by the cold kegs and hot co-eds. Thankfully, I listened to a Mets scout who knew the coach at the University of Missouri and suggested that I get into his baseball program.
Two years later, after football injuries cut my college pitching and football career short at MIZZOU, I thought I was done with baseball. Little did I know I’d soon be playing baseball year-round all over the globe and learning more about baseball from my ex-pro teammates in MSBL, than I had ever learned in High School or College.
Staying ahead of the 9–13-year-old hardballers that I coached in San Diego, while stationed there as a TopGun instructor, also improved my baseball knowledge. However, the big eye-opener came much later. Working out a few Winters in Indiana with MLB’s Drew Storen and his crew really showed me how much more there was to learn about baseball, particularly training techniques.
Since 1991, I’ve played spring, summer, and fall ball in DCMSBL, with many of you and several of the Hall of Famers on this page, in every DCMSBL age division. That includes every World Series in AZ & FL; usually four weeks back-to-back, but sometimes two different age groups in the same week. (“Let’s play two…Everyday…For a week!)
Anyway, twelve rings and counting. I love that every few years I can “move up” and become a “young” rookie again in the next age bracket. Hum Babe!
That’s 39 years of DCMSBL and MSBL World Series hardball except for the year chemotherapy kept me out of AZ. In 2010, the Mayo Clinic said I had incurable non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and gave me 5-7 years to live, so everything after 2017 is “bonus time” for me. (Still on an experimental daily chemo though.)
Now, after the awfulness of 2020, I’m looking forward to playing baseball this Spring more than ever. I’m also looking forward to our nine months of regular Wednesday practices that will begin soon with 28-34 hardballers at Nottoway Park and Waters Field. That good group of older guys were the genesis of the new and very competitive DCMSBL 60+ Summer and 55+ Fall Divisions two years ago. Practicing and socializing with those guys on the diamond each week brings a sense of normalcy to the Covid craziness. I am immensely happy to still be doing it — and all for the love of the game.
Like Jim Bouton said about gripping a baseball: “…In the end, you realize it was the other way around the whole time.”
Frank Cappello Bio
For twenty years I was away from the game I loved growing up as a kid. In June of 1997 I got an unusual call from a close friend, Steve Norwood. He asked me to come play a baseball game at our old high school, Thomas Jefferson. I replied, “you’re crazy, I’ve been playing softball all of these years.” How could he expect me to play a hardball game? I said, “let me think about it.” Ten minutes later, I couldn’t resist and said, “I’m there!”
That was my unplanned entry into the DCMSBL. I didn’t know at the time that becoming part of the league would change my life. Playing, coaching, and managing over the last 23 years I developed many new friendships and had some great seasons along the way. With my teammates, we won 19 local championships. I played and coached on seven different teams including: Ted Britt Federals (2001), Fedlock Falcons 38+ (2002-2005), Twins 45+ (2007), PBR Bandits 45+ (2011-2015), Fairfax Mudhens 55+ (2011-2012), Pirates 45+ (2016), PBR Bandits (50/55+ 2015-2019).
I also played and coached in many of the MSBL National tournaments. Along the way, I won World Series championship rings with three different teams. These included the 2004 38+ National Division Fedlock Falcons World Series Arizona, 2011 52+ Titans Florida Fall Classic, 2015 55+ Bandits Florida Fall Classic.
Baseball is just a game win or lose. The game comes and goes but, being part of the DCMSBL family has fostered many special lasting friendships. These bonds are even more important than winning a game. I have come to relish the time spent with my baseball family on and off the field. Nothing can ever change those relationships established with my teammates on a lot of sweltering summer days. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The game continues to be “America’s Pastime.”
It’s irreplaceable to me.
Randy Lightle Bio
In 1998 while playing for a Ponce de Leon team, a number of my teammates including Bob Janis told me about a more competitive baseball league. That league was DCMSBL. I did not hesitate to sign up and began playing for the 35+ Giants being managed by Drew Valentine. In 1999 when Drew stepped down I took over as manager of the ballclub. We had much success as we won the 40+ American Division and League Championship in 2001 and the American Division Championship in 2006. I participated as a player/manager.
In the interim I participated in the DCMSBL 2000 “Ice Baseball” marathon at JEB Stuart High School to ring in the New Year. I became one of the first “homegrown” DCMSBL umpires under the tutelage of Dave Bowen. I played and managed a team of all stars at Cabin John Regional Park to raise money for a young man, Mattie Stepanek, who was battling cancer. It was at this game that I first met the legendary Del Norwood. I put the lineup card up in the dugout and spelled his first name “Dell.” He immediately told me to correct the spelling to “Del.”
In 2004 I co-founded, played with, and managed the 48+ Rebels and played and managed the Rebels as they moved to 55+. I attended the 2004-2009 MSBL Arizona World Series with the Rebels as player/manager. I have been a player/manager in 5 different age levels. In 2009 I founded and managed the 18+ Chantilly Hooters Baseball Club.
With Jerry Klemm, Bruce Palmer, Tim O’Brien, Chris Guerre, and Jamie Tickle, I was a member of the League Committee from 2008-2009.
After retiring from the Federal Government in 2002 I was interested in coaching high school baseball. I was hired by Dan Pototsky in 2002 off the DCMSBL website to be an assistant at Thomas Jefferson High School for S&T. I took over the helm in 2006 and stayed until 2007. In 2008 I became the head varsity coach at JEB Stuart HS (now Justice) and remained there for my 14th season. During my high school coaching career I have always made it a priority to ensure my fields can be used for DCMSBL play. My most recent teammates have been the DC Mets and DC Dodgers in 60+. I look forward too many more years of a wonderful relationship with DCMSBL. The friendships established will always be cherished.
Roger L. Miller biography
I joined DCMSBL in 1989 by forming a team called the Knights, later changed to the Silver Eagles I also served as treasurer of the infant league. I don’t recall much of what or how we did but do remember the tremendous enthusiasm among the players to be playing baseball again in our 40’s and beyond. I recall playing in both Arizona and Ft. Myers for many years, winning a MSBL national championship with Chicago and receiving MVP nods in a few MSBL and Roy Hobb’s tournaments.
My passion for the game started at age 8 in a tryout for Little League in northern NJ. In my tryout I hit well off a 12 year old who became a 20 game winner with the Cubs. I was certain that I would eventually play at that level.
In high school I pitched and played first base. I knew I could play and thought I could pitch but am sure that I got hammered from time to time. I chose not to remember those games. On October 8, 1956, I cut school to go to a World Series game with my dad. We were treated to Don Larsen’s perfect game. I still have the ticket and many memories. At school the next day, I was called to the office. The principal and the staff greeted me with scowls and the silent treatment. I thought I was in for a suspension. Finally, he said “tell me about the game.” Everyone except me thought that was funny.
During my junior year in 1958 we moved to York, PA when my dad became president of York College of Pennsylvania. I attended a new school, made the baseball team and threw a one hit shutout in the first game. I had two good years in York playing high school and summer ball.
From 1960-1964, I attended William and Mary College. Freshman were not allowed to play so I spent my freshman year pitching batting practice to the varsity. In my sophomore year, I selected accounting as my major as I was good with numbers. After one of our road trips, the accounting professor called me in and voiced his displeasure that I had missed a week of classes. He said that I had to make a choice between accounting and baseball. With my dad’s grudging approval, I chose baseball and have never regretted the decision.
During the next three years, I felt that I pitched well but had little to show for the effort. I remember a few games that stood out. I lost to a NCAA tournament bound Penn State team 3-1, beat Virginia 6-5 and two weeks later lost to Virginia 2-0 while allowing 14 hits. Many games were low scoring, but since we did not hit, we had little chance to win. Having the opportunity to compete is great but losing stinks. Two other games come to mind. One was against the University of Pittsburgh and Paul Martha, a gifted athlete and later, a defensive back with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He popped up against me and my 3B called me off, but the ball fell safely as it grazed the back of his head. He was drunk and shouldn’t have been on the field.
The other game involved Rod Thorn from West Virginia University. I pitched the 1st game and lost 8-0. I only gave up three hits and perhaps one or two walks. Obviously, hitting was not our only deficiency. I didn’t have any trouble with Thorn, striking him out at least once. He was a left-handed hitter and I had good luck against lefties. In the second game, I played 1B and Thorn hit a rope down the first base line. I made a diving catch and was feeling pretty good. Thorn came all the way down to first base with his bat in hand, stopped at the bag and called me a “sorry m-fer”. I had never been called “sorry” before.
I worked hard during these years and competed as best I could. In my senior year, I was awarded the award for baseball at the school’s sports banquet. That was special to me. I was looked at by the Cardinals, Phillies and Twins but each declined to sign me. They were looking for guys who could throw at least 90 mph and whose fast ball would knock walls down. My velocity was not at that level. End of dream.
Other memories go back many years and include two events that come to mind. One was a banquet put on by a group called the Emil Verban Society. Mr. Verban was an infielder of little note with the Cubs and the Cardinals. A government worker in DC started this group to honor the “average” ballplayer and the groups only function was to hold a luncheon every two years at a hotel at 16th and K Streets in downtown DC. Each luncheon drew roughly 500 attendees. The draw was the presence of former major league players, mainly from the Cubs, who came and told stories. Speakers I recall included Ernie Banks, Andy Pafko, Don Cardwell, Bill Hands, Joe Pepitone and Randy Hundley.
The Smithsonian Institution held a series of baseball related evenings on broadcasters. They invited, among others, Mel Allen (NY Yankees), Harry Carey (Chicago Cubs), Ernie Harwell (Detroit Tigers) and Red Barber (Dodgers and Yankees) to discuss their craft and remembrances of their careers. To a baseball junkie, these times and others like them provide a lifetime of enjoyment and memories.
One of the toughest moments for me was to recognize that my skills have diminished and that I might not be able to play this beautiful game again. This is something we all go through, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Making this reality more palatable was the 2019 Washington Nationals. Most of us are old enough to have wondered if we would ever see a baseball championship in Washington during our lifetime. But we did and, and we hope it will happen again. The Nationals provided one of the most enjoyable and rewarding baseball seasons that anyone could imagine. I can’t begin to count number of calls I have had from friends, clients, teammates and opponents who also enjoyed the journey and who wanted to talk about the team’s success.
I know that everyone who might read this has similar memories and experiences, and I hope you enjoyed yours as much as I have mine.
Awarded for significant contributions toward our further growth and development:
2019- Norm Gordon
2018- Maple Avenue Market
2016- Bryan Yawberg
Pete Jones has been a member of DC MSBL since 2006 when he joined the 35+ Knights. He moved to the Suburban Senators in 2007 before finding a permanent home with the 35+Twins Baseball Club in 2008. Team founder Rob Bohn then entrusted the Twins to Pete’s leadership in 2009 and he’s managed the team ever since. Pete also has participated in 45+ (now 40+) since 2008, playing for the DC Thugs, Rangers, Pirates, and Fairfax Americans before he and Robbie Guenther created a 40+ version of the Twins in 2018. Pete enjoys playing in the MSBL World Series every October in Phoenix and has had the privilege of joining the Washington Rattlers numerous times at the MSBL Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas.
Pete’s time in adult baseball began in 1992 when, while serving in the US Air Force at Langley AFB, Va, he helped form a league in Norfolk. Attending an open tryout for that league featuring more than 500 aspiring adult ball players, Pete decided to skip the tryout and form a team of airmen from the base softball league at Langley. That team, Air Force 1, won a pair of championships in Pete’s 3 years leading the team. In 1995 the USAF sent Pete to Germany, where he lived on the German side of the border with the Netherlands. Pete was quickly invited to join a nearby Dutch baseball club, the Heerlen All Stars, in Heerlen, the Netherlands. Pete managed the club from 1995 to 1999 and helped the team promote to the 3rd highest level in the Dutch club system, the highest Heerlen had ever reached. Upon returning to the US, Pete lived in Prince William County and helped form a new league there in 2000. His team, the 18+ Northern Va Dodgers, won 3 titles in his 5 years with that league. As league president, he coordinated field use between the leagues with Jerry Klemm many times over the years. In that capacity he became familiar with the DC MSBL and made the permanent move to the league in 2006. And while Pete and his wife relocated to the Virginia Beach area in early 2019, Pete still works here in northern Va, commuting weekly, and plans to continue playing weeknight 30+ baseball in the DC MSBL.
I grew up playing Reston Little League, always matching up against Vienna Little League in the all-star tournaments (rarely winning) before travel leagues took over youth sports. Then I played baseball, among other sports, at Bishop O’Connell in high school, graduating in 1997. I teach Health and PE at W-L High School in Arlington and coach football there, and I coach baseball at Fairfax HS, as well as my sons’ travel team.
This 2020 season will be my 22nd year in DCMSBL, Although I did take most of one season off when my wife had twins in the Spring of 2006. I began playing DCMSBL in 1999, with the Washington Red Sox, when I was at JMU. My first manager was Todd Burger, who was the head baseball coach at JEB Stuart for a while. Back then the youngest age group was 19+. Todd managed for a couple of more years, then Aaron Duchak took over for a year or two, then Matt Young for a year, then I took over somewhere in the neighborhood of 2008ish. It’s hard to remember exactly what year it was since many of the core players remained and it wasn’t a big shift in who was in control. Basically I just took over as who was responsible for getting on guys for paying their league fees and signing the online waiver.
Since then, we originally continued as the Washington Red Sox only because we already had the uniforms and no one wanted to buy new ones. We began having end of season pool parties at my parents house in Vienna and one year we convinced my dad (after several drinks) to have his company become our sponsor and buy us jerseys…as long as we changed our name to the Wireflys, for wirefly.com.
A couple of years later he left Wirefly.com, and we scrounged up another sponsor from a parent, almost like little league! Newman Properties bought us new jerseys and bats and we became the Fairfax Nationals several years ago.
I’d never have stayed on as a player or manager without amazing teammates, and of course an understanding wife. There’s probably no worse words for a wife with three young kids to hear on a hot Sunday afternoon than, “Honey, I have a doubleheader today, I’ll see you tonight”
As our core group of players, specifically Matt Young, Pete Newman, Matt Waas, Jason Gramling, and Danny Layton, have aged and the age groupings have changed, we’ve bounced from 18+ to 28+ to 25+ to 22+ and now back down to 18+. We’ve had 4-12 seasons and 14-2 seasons and won a couple of end-of season tournaments along the way. Maybe an A tournament at some point, but mostly the B (or C!). We’ve gotten married, had kids, been injured, moved, had more kids, moved back, changed jobs, and seen dozens and dozens of teammates come and go. But we always come back to playing baseball from April through August. We don’t get together much in the offseason, especially with our kids now playing sports, but everyone is always waiting for that first email in the winter with me telling them the season is coming faster than they expect and to register and pay!
My goal now is to make it at least 4 more years to when my twin boys turn 18 and can join my team.