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Dr. Gerry Staub of Rockton, IL, was recently inducted into the Wisconsin State Baseball League Hall of Fame. Doc died several years ago. I wrote this at that time. It was revived at his induction ceremony and I thought I would share it with you.


Those of us who have been involved in baseball for a long time, well, let’s be honest, for our entire lives, view the game and its people a little differently than most.

We are fortunate in that through the years we have been able to know and to compete with baseball men. Baseball men are a unique, esoteric breed-a breed that is difficult to explain and define. This breed cannot be classified; it has no phylum, genus, species determination like every other living thing in the world. The reason is that within the breed, baseball men differ. Many times the only thing they have in common is the game. But there is nothing that ties a tighter knot than the game.

Defining baseball men is difficult. But while they may differ, there are some things they have in common; they are understanding, yet demanding. They are passionate competitors, perfectionists where the game is concerned, but they are aware of what the game can do to its players. Their passion can quickly turn to compassion because they know that most fans will never know: that sometimes the game wins. And there are some things they are not. They are not selfish - if their game was basketball, they would rather have had an assist than the field goal, but as baseball men, they would rather have had the sacrifice bunt than the RBI hit. While they may be, they are not necessarily the players. For most, those days are in the past. But whether they are, or were, their value and ability is not, or was not, measured by running speed and arm strength. While they battle to win, they are not even measured by wins and losses. You see, it is not reaching first base or scoring a run that motivates them.

It is the game that drives them - the game itself, not the winning, not the losing, but the playing. The game is in their blood. They cannot get it out of their mind. It’s not seasonal; it is 24-7-365. And what makes them most difficult to understand is that their main objective is sharing with others all the experiences that the game creates. Sharing mostly with those young men who can run and throw, but not exclusively with them. They want fans and parents and entire communities to know and appreciate their game. While they look at is a “my game,” they live to share it with others.

They want you, yes you, to understand how hard the game is to play. How hard it is to win. They want you to understand that your team can play magnificently and still be in the 2 end of a 3-2 score. What do they do when that happens? They come back the next day and try to be on the 3 end of that score. Learning to deal with losing is the most difficult and at the same time the valuable lesson offered by the game. But baseball men have learned it and they are compelled to share it.

The game requires a special kind of dedication, a rare kind of patience. It is so hard to be successful. Baseball men grope with that all the time. The game can rip them apart, but they report on time for batting practice day after day, win after win, loss after loss. The game calls; they respond.

While the battle with the game goes on, something special is happening. Baseball men, while they compete, become close. Very close. Like brothers (“I can fight with my brother, but you better not touch him”). They are, after all, the only ones who live in their world, who truly understand each other.

In addition to everything else that he was, and he truly was an accomplished man, Doc Staub was a baseball man. Because of Doc, young men had the opportunity to play and to come to know and understand the game and their friends and parents and fans had an opportunity to witness the game. Rockford had a semi-pro team.

And while I am embarrassed to tell you that I have not seen or talked to Doc in years, I am proud to tell you that I love and respect him as a true baseball man. In our world, that is the highest of compliments. He may have reached his ninth inning, but there are many, many like me who share the same feelings and will never forget him. One day, Doc, we will meet again at home plate and exchange line-up cards.

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Email questions to tjones@orourkemediagroup.com.

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