Brian Mullen Ambassador of Baseball Award
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Dave Power – Port Charlotte, FL
BY GLENN MILLER
Roy Hobbs Baseball
When one imagines the perfect example of a Roy Hobbs Baseball player, Dave Power might be the epitome of one.
Love of the game. Dedication. Respect for the game and its rules and traditions. Eagerness to share his passion with all and welcoming to all, from ex-pros to novices.
He reveled in the joys of the game’s simplest pleasures. That includes squaring up a pitch on the fat part of a wooden bat to snaring a fly ball in the outfield and robbing an opponent of a double with running grabs on the green grass of warm outfields on sunny days.
That was Dave Power as a boy and young man and it remained the case in recent years as he aged into his 80s. Nothing diminished his love of the game, not as a boy in Connecticut or a young man in Miami or an older one in Port Charlotte, where he lived his final years.
Power died July 5 at the age of 81 and is a posthumous 2019 honoree with the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame Brian Mullen Ambassador of Baseball Award.
All who knew Power even slightly, perhaps just playing against him occasionally on a Lee County ball field during the Roy Hobbs World Series, couldn’t help but notice that.
He was always eager to share a story and do so with a smile and a gleam in his eyes, one showing his affection not only for the game but its players.
Power’s HoF background report burst with loving tributes to a man who was clearly adored and respected.
Fellow Charlotte County resident Dave McLaughlin knew Power for more than 16 years and knew his friend’s welcoming nature.
“There is always room in the dugout for a new face,” McLaughlin said of Power’s guiding principles.
Sometimes McLaughlin would see a new guy and ask Power about him and this is what Power told him: “Well, I saw him at Publix today and he liked baseball so here he is.”
That was Dave Power.
Joe DeRosa was an example. He never played in a baseball game until he was 58.
“Dave was so patient with me and all my bonehead mistakes that first year,” DeRosa said.
Eleven years later DeRosa is still playing. “I won’t even think of playing for anybody else,” DeRosa said.
Power’s enthusiasm and energy helped expand the scope of Roy Hobbs Baseball in Southwest Florida, adding teams and players up and down Florida’s west coast.
“In this past year, Dave is responsible for the expansion of Roy Hobbs Baseball in two additional counties of Sarasota and Charlotte,” teammate Felix Menendez said.
He wasn’t done at the time of his death. Menendez said Power’s goal was to add 4 more teams by the end of the year.
That was Dave Power.
It was always thus. …
Power started playing adult baseball in 1954 when he was 16 and residing in Norwalk, Conn. At the time he was a callow youth who found himself in a league that included Korean War veterans. He held his own.
In 1970 he moved to Miami and played in a league that included Hispanic baseball legends such as Tony Oliva and Jose Tartabull. In 1986, Power moved across the state to Port Charlotte.
Wherever he lived and played Power was guided by an unwavering moral compass.
In the mid-1960s when he lived in Norwalk, 3 African-American brothers – Amos, Lyman and Willie Wilkes – wanted to bring a team into the league.
They didn’t have money or sponsorship for uniforms. Power told the Wilkes they were in luck because his team was getting rid of their uniforms and they could have them. All they had to do was change the lettering.
What the Wilkes Brothers didn’t know was that Power’s team didn’t intend to get new uniforms. Offering the uniforms was something Power thought of in the moment.
Power was then working as a real estate broker and helped one of the brothers find a new home in a nice neighborhood.
But the brother was a bit short on the down payment. Power gave him his commission so he could buy the new home in a nice area.
That was Dave Power.
That was the Dave Power who played baseball for 65 years and may still be playing on Elysium fields where the sun always shines, and the grass is always green, and he can continue squaring baseballs up on wooden bats.
Most every Roy Hobbs player, manager, umpire, administrator and fan likely know David McLaughlin. He’s the glove repair wizard who sets up shop every fall at PDC. He has a kind word for everybody whether a customer or not, and if one needs glove work done Dave handles it with efficiency and a smile. He also plays when he can, catches mostly, but is known for his leadership in the dugout and his unbridled passion for the game.
Bonnie Fear, a lifetime of Baseball & family
Bill Fear knows something about the 2017 Roy Hobbs Brian Mullen Ambassador of Baseball Award winner that not everybody likely knows about Bonnie Fear.
“She’s been an ambassador of baseball her whole life,” Bill said of his wife.
He should know. They will celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary in February. Bill knows about Bonnie’s life in baseball, from playing as a girl to becoming a Little League coach at 18 when she ran a team where her younger brothers played.
Yes, Bonnie has always been about baseball, whether it’s rooting for the Chicago White Sox in the big leagues or managing the Windy City White Sox in the Roy Hobbs World Series.
Dominick Catinella is one of her players on the Windy City team. He first met Bonnie when she was 17 and working at a Jewel grocery store he was managing in the Chicago area. She is now 60.
Catinella still recalls taking younger employees out for pizza after work on Friday nights all those years ago. Catinella and Bonnie went their separate ways for several years and then when Bonnie was with Bill they crossed paths again.
“She would come to all of Billy’s games,” Catinella said.
Now and for the past seven years or so Bonnie’s former grocery store boss is one of her players.
“She’s fair and knows the game,” Catinella said. “And she usually makes the right decision.”
Catinella applauds her selection as the Ambassador. “I think she’s the perfect fit,” he said.
Bonnie Fear has balanced baseball with family for decades. She’s the mother of, as she put it, three “natural” kids and two foster children. She’s now the grandmother of eight “natural” kids and two foster kids.
Of course, some things changed over time. As a child, Bonnie was a Cubs fan. Then came marriage to Bill.
“He changed me into a White Sox fan,” Bonnie said.
But she’s always been a baseball fan. When she was 18 Bonnie volunteered to coach a little brother’s Little League. She was initially told no by league officials because, she said, they wanted men coaching.
But when not enough men volunteered the league president came to her house and asked her to coach.
Now, all these years later, her enthusiasm for the game hasn’t waned. She watches the Little League World Series every summer. “I hibernate in August like a bear in winter,” she said of watching televised Little League games.
This baseball woman earned the latest the Ambassador Award through decades of devotion to the game in general and Roy Hobbs Baseball in particular.
“Oh, gosh, I am so honored,” Bonnie said. “Everybody who knows me knows how much I love the game.”
Being singled out for selection out of what she sees as a vast field of potential Ambassadors stuns and nearly overwhelms Bonnie.
“There’s so many people in the Roy Hobbs family,” Bonnie said. “There’s so many people involved who could win the award.”
But there’s only one Bonnie Fear.
And there’s only one recipient of the 2017 Roy Hobbs Brian Mullen Ambassador Award.
“I’m speechless,” Bonnie said. “I’m in awe of this prestigious award.”
– Glenn Miller
Anybody connected with Roy Hobbs as a player or umpire likely knows the Cincinnati Colts and Hawkins a.k.a ‘Baby-Baby.’The Colts are known as a family and a big part of that is due to Juliet and her husband, Bob, a charter member of the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame, inducted in 2013. Bob is known simply as Hawk. Juliet is called Baby-Baby.’
Hawk and Baby-Baby, who married in 2003, have built a large baseball family. Juliet has become known as the “heart and soul” of the organization, which was founded in 1996 as a 45-plus team. And it is an organization.
Thanks in part to her dedication, love and guidance, the Colts are a family of more than 200 players, wives, children and friends. Each of them certainly knows the grown woman known as Baby-Baby.
Juliet is a fixture at Colts’ games, attending more than 100 games in each of the past 10 years or so.
Attending more than 100 games each year works out to more than 1,000 games over a decade.
And it’s about more than showing up and greeting people with a smile. Bob says her influence has helped build the Colts into a competitive organization, which has brought home 3 Roy Hobbs World Series titles, 4 second-place finishes and 10 bronze medals. All told, that comes to 17 World Series medals. That’s a lot of hardware by any measure.
No wonder she’s earned the honor of being one of the two 2016 Roy Hobbs recipients of the Brian Mullen Ambassador of Baseball Award.
– Glenn Miller
Bob Molbert is a world traveler. He has traveled to numerous foreign countries but for more than 40 years has also officiated in basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball. He has been a baseball coach, announcer and booster club official.
Molbert started umpiring at the Roy Hobbs World Series in 1995. But, that wasn’t enough for the tireless and dedicated Molbert. He became a field manager and a creative idea person for Roy Hobbs Baseball leaders. Now he’s a site manager and oversees managers’ check-in at the World Series.
Molbert is a familiar face of Roy Hobbs for many managers, players, fans and family members in his multiple roles.
He has represented Roy Hobbs at PDC, JetBlue, Terry Park and City of Palms, and is the Hobbs point-man for the annual Challenger Exhibition at CenturyLink Sports Complex. He works with Roy Hobbs on all of its Challenger projects, umpiring, serving ice cream, being a buddy and helping with directions.
Remember, Roy Hobbs Baseball isn’t an industry or factory manufacturing items. It’s in the people business, and Molbert is a people person who makes everyone feel welcome.
He’s a problem solver and an indispensible Ambassador of the game and Roy Hobbs.
No wonder he has earned the honor of being named one of the two 2016 Brian Mullen Ambassador of Baseball recipients.
– Glenn Miller
Chuck Nave: Spreading the Word…
Chuck Nave grew up playing baseball and working and living where thousands of Roy Hobbs players come every fall.
He has lived since infancy on Sanibel Island, attended Cypress Lake High School in south Fort Myers, lettering in football and basketball as well as baseball.
That’s where he met his future wife, Barb. They married in 1971 and share 2 children, an abiding Christian faith and, of course, a love of baseball.
Nave, 65, has combined his faith with baseball in recent years, spreading the word of both on missions to Moldova, a country the size of Maryland nestled between Romania and Ukraine.
He’s an inaugural Roy Hobbs Ambassador of Baseball recipient.
“We do a lot of talking about giving back to society, and to the game we love so much,” Roy Hobbs president Tom Giffen said. “Chuck embodies those principles. He doesn’t have to say much, he just lives what he believes, and we all benefit from that.”
Nave’s love of sports and faith merge in a quote he likes from the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire.” The movie chronicles a Scottish runner, Eric Liddell, who must balance his faith and love of running at the 1924 Olympics. “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast,” Liddell says. “And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
Barb said when Nave, a pitcher, played baseball the sensation was the same. “When he played baseball he felt God’s pleasure,” she said.
He spread the word of baseball to Moldova beginning in 2006, teaching children baseball and English and sharing his faith. Nave spent 3 weeks that year in Moldova. “They use baseball as a tool,” Barb said.
Both have seen the quality of play improve since 2006. Barb said in the beginning nobody wanted to play the outfield because nobody could hit baseballs to the outfield, something that Nave is as adept at as he is in keeping opposing hitters from doing.
At home, Nave is as accomplished in his profession as he is in baseball. He is a certified master plumber who retired in 2014.
And now he’s a certified Ambassador of Baseball.
– Glenn Miller
Brian Mullen: Ambassador Namesake
Every baseball fan knows about those rare creatures – five-tool players. Those are guys who can hit, hit with power, run, throw and field.
Brian Mullen, the first recipient – and namesake – of the Roy Hobbs Ambassador of Baseball Award, is a five-tool player, albeit 5 different tools.
Five tools? He’s got them in abundance.
• Site manager
• Statistician / help seed playoff fields
• Customer relations
The last item may be the most important to the 56-year-old Mullen.
“The players are the real stars,” said Mullen, a Fort Myers resident. “If they didn’t come down I wouldn’t have a job.”
Mullen has been a fixture at the Roy Hobbs World Series since 1994, its second year in Fort Myers. He estimates he’s seen more than 1,500 Roy Hobbs World Series games in that time.
And it seems he can recall every game, team and player.
When Roy Hobbs Baseball vetted Mullen’s Ambassador candidacy, the praise gushed forth in geysers of compliments.
From Roy Hobbs Trustee Willie Boyd: “Brian is a walking computer, very helpful and a smile that’s very contagious.”
From umpire Tim McGoldrick: “Brian has affected me personally in life by witnessing a true man who loves baseball in all aspects.”
Manager Bonnie Fear: “Brian is the perfect example of the Ambassador to the game of baseball and the Roy Hobbs organization.”
Umpire Bob Spangler: “His presence is one of the reasons I look forward to going to Fort Myers every year. … He has affected my life by helping me realize that the event is not just about wins and losses but it is about the friendships and people at the event.”
From Roy Hobbs President Tom Giffen: “Brian sets the standard for working with customers on a one-on-one basis. He is the guy with the perpetual smile and a personal first-name greeting for everyone.”
Yes, Brian Mullen is an Ambassador with a capital “A.”
He does it all, like a five-tool player.
And he does with a smile for everybody.
– Glenn Miller