MOSES LAKE — Ben Weber, now a World Series champion, used to work as the mascot for the Salinas Peppers when he wasn’t pitching.
Eventually, Weber advanced to play in the Taiwan Major League and was a member of the San Francisco Giants’ minor league system before making his major league debut at the age of 30. As the set-up man for Troy Percival, Weber won a World Series championship with the Anaheim Angels in 2002.
“That’s the story I give my pitchers,” Jim Hayes said.
Since retiring from public service 10 yeas ago, Hayes has dedicated his time to the advancement of baseball players into higher professional leagues. This summer, Hayes hopes to provide a space for aspiring professional baseball players in Moses Lake.
Hayes and Keith Marshall will serve as general manager of baseball operations/manager and general manager of business operations/announcer, respectively, for the Moses Lake Professional Baseball League. The league’s mission statement is: “If you are tired of being told that you do not throw hard enough, are too slow, and too small, then this is the league for you.”
Hayes said he has commitments from 150 players across the country.
“We’re not going to have a cap on the age because there’s guys that haven’t been seen and haven’t been given a real chance that are 26, 27, especially the pitchers,” he said.
There are two four-day tryouts scheduled for May and June. The first is in San Jacinto, California from May 28-31; the second is in Moses Lake from June 6-9. The plan is to have four teams based in Moses Lake with doubleheaders at Larson Playfield at 1 and 6 p.m. throughout the summer.
The cost of the tryout is $500 and money is due by March 16, at the latest. Hayes stressed that the league would not continue if the financial goals were not met to avoid shorting any players or staff.
“We’re not going to ask them for a dime until we know we’re going to have money in the bank,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to have them drive all the way out from the east coast, get signed, they’re here and they don’t get paid. Now they’ve got to try and get home.”
Currently, Hayes and Marshall are looking for host families and advertisers to help with the league’s lodgings and expenses. For more information, visit www.moseslakepbl.com.