by Anthony Dolce
November 11, 2021
LaDuca Wins 3 Rings At Men’s Senior Baseball League WS
In late October, Fredonia’s Charlie LaDuca competed in what will be his last Men’s Senior Baseball League World Series competition, and what an ending he was able to achieve.
The Fredonia resident walked away with not one, but three rings from the event, which took place in Phoenix, Arizona, by being part of winning teams in the 65-and-older bracket, the 70-and-older bracket, and the father/son bracket.
When LaDuca, began competing in this, it was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. At least, that’s how he pitched it to his wife over dinner nearly three decades ago.
“I took my wife out to dinner 29 years ago when they first recruited me to play,” LaDuca said. “I told her it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. She’s been very supportive of me.”
His total championships since that dinner date nearly three decades ago now stands at seven.
The competition level at the MSBL is varied, as there are different divisions, but LaDuca competed at the highest level. He was even able to compete with former Major Leaguers players, including Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Jim Bouton. There are also divisions for people ranging from ages 18 and older and 73 and older. But because of a knee replacement, LaDuca knows this was his last one.
“I had partial knee replacements years ago,” LaDuca said. “They’re bad now, so I made it through this tournament and I could rehab, but enough is enough.”
LaDuca said the father/son competition was the most memorable part of his final World Series run, as it was the only time his team had ever made the championship game, let alone win it. LaDuca was joined by other local figures, including Dennis Gawronski, and Al and Brent Carmello.
The rest of the team included people from the Buffalo area. Previously, Joe and Matt Pantano, Evan Carmello, Rich Hofer Sr and Jr, Winston and Stony Woodard, Bill and Alex Shaw, Matt Wallace, Joe LaDuca, AJ Burnside, Jake and Johner McCune, Tracy and Jason Howard, and Tony and Mark Bartholomew competed.
“Our local players all played a major role in getting us to the championship game and winning it,” LaDuca said.
LaDuca, a 2017 Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inductee, primarily pitched during the tournament, while also getting some reps at first base and a few at-bats. His pitching shouldn’t come as a surprise, as LaDuca has previously served as the pitching coach for Fredonia High School, and still helps out Fredonia coach Vince Gullo with scouting. He also works with youngsters from Silver Creek, Forestville, Fredonia and Dunkirk, passing on his wealth of pitching knowledge as he has done over the years.
Growing the game of baseball is important to LaDuca, who helped found the Chautauqua County MSBL in 1992, helping to show people that there is still baseball in Chautauqua County for anyone who wants to play.
“This kind of thing promotes the local league,” said LaDuca, who guided Pine Valley High School to a New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship in 2007. “Anyone can pick up with a team and play. It lets people know baseball is still in the area.”
And winning ensured that LaDuca didn’t come away empty handed, as he and the entire team walked away with World Series rings on their fingers.
The MSBL was founded in 1988 and now has 65,000 members participating in leagues across the country. For more information about MSBL, visit https://msblnational.com.