Local baseball league a hit among adults
PARKERSBURG — Danny Pannell is currently on vacation but is hoping to be at Bennett Stump Field in City Park Sunday.
That would be the third and final day of the Mid-Ohio Valley Adult Baseball League postseason tournament, which is scheduled to begin Friday.
The wooden bat championship tilt is slated for 4 p.m. Sunday.
Pannell, a former Warren Warrior, who pitched briefly for Muskingum University, plays on a team called the Misfits, who are managed by Luke Carpenter. There are five other teams in the playoffs — the Venom (Mike Scottodiluzio manager), the Hitmen (Chris Reed), the Shockers (John Rose), Smith/Ortho (Jay Gerber), and East of Chicago (Jason Williams).
The Venom, a squad comprised mainly of former Parkersburg Big Reds baseball players, is the defending champ.
“It has been Misfits versus Venom in the championship game the last two years with Venom winning a one- run thriller in 2015 and won decisively last season,” said Chris Cunningham, the MOVABL president and Misfits first baseman. “The Hitmen who were the number two seed last year have been very strong this year and will be tough to beat in the tourney.”
Josh Hudkins, a former Big Reds player, is the league’s vice-president and treasurer.
Originally formed by the late Tim Fittro in 1990, the MOVABL, a regional adult recreational league, has enabled former prep and college ballplayers, ages 18 and up, to continue playing hardball on the diamond. The rosters feature men from Washington and Athens counties in Ohio, and from Wood, Jackson, Wirt, Pleasants, Ritchie and Kanawha counties in West Virginia.
Many of the Hitmen played at Ohio Valley University, while the Shockers are made up of ex-Federal Hocking Lancers.
Smith/Ortho and E of C are sponsored teams.
“Our league is a recreational league, but the quality of play is good and is very competitive,” Cunningham said. “Baseball has been my favorite sport as long as I remember and playing in my youth are some of my best memories.
“As an adult I had long accepted that I would never get to experience the game between the lines again as I had in my youth, but this league changed that, and I am so grateful. My only regret is that I did not discover it sooner. I hope I can get the word out and pass on this opportunity to others.”
Regular-season play got underway in late May. Games have been played on three fields, at City Park, Civitan Park in Belpre, and the Yellowjackets home diamond in Williamstown.
“Our all-star game is normally played midseason, but due to a rainouts, we have to play it this weekend,” Cunningham said. “It is going to be difficult since all the best pitchers will be used this weekend.
“We discussed moving the game to Civitan Park next weekend, but it is not in very good shape. City Park will not be available past this weekend as OVU needs to get it ready for their fall season. We’ll just make the best of it. Normally, it is a very good game, but it may be tough this year. We have discussed expanding the rosters to help out.”
The 50-year-old Cunningham said that he has been playing in the league since 2008.
“There has been a good bit of turnover in my 10 years in the league, but we have always maintained five or six teams per season,” he added. “I would like to see the league expand to perhaps seven or eight teams.
“I know there are enough ball players out there, it is just a matter of getting the word out about the league. (The website address is movabl.club and more information can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Last year, Eli Lenington, a former Marietta Tiger, played on the Misfits — but not this season. He’s up in northern Ohio, working in the front office of the Cleveland Browns.
Ben Bricker, another Tiger, is currently a catcher on the Misfits.
Southpaw-throwing Justin Hill of Warren was on the team last summer but not this season.
“As the eternal optimist, I still think we have a shot at the championship this year,” Cunningham said. “Three different pitchers have thrown complete game shutouts this season and not one of them is named Danny Pannell, the ace of our staff.
“We have been playing more to our level of late and good pitching can carry you a long way. That being said, we will have to face three very good teams to do this, so we will have to earn it.”