Cosentino, Soukup help manage ‘relentless chaos’
By GLENN MILLER
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Hurricane Ian’s headlines were death and destruction on mammoth scales.
Of lesser importance, of course, were the cancellation of the 2022 Roy Hobbs World Series and increased stress for Fort Myers Roy Hobbs players.
Fort Myers residents Lee Cosentino and Cliff Soukup are players who rode out the storm a few miles inland but were deeply involved in recovery for months, particularly on Sanibel Island.
Cosentino owns a company called Bay to Beach Home Services. One of his employees is also one of his players – Soukup. Soukup is a tile expert.
“Tile is my forte,” Soukup said.
But has also been learning more about contracting is the past year, ever since Hurricane Ian stomped ashore on Sept. 28, 2022,
They’ve dealt with so much. Houses. Condos. Mold. Mildew. Trash.
It’s been relentless.
“Just chaos,” said Cosentino, a licensed contractor.
By his side last fall he expected to see Soukup playing for him on the Twin Peaks Lumberjacks. That obviously didn’t happen.
For the past 12 months, Cosentino and Soukup have been teammates in a different way. Initially, their work helping Sanibel recover was taking a boat to the island because the causeway linking the island to the mainland had been wiped out. Once the bridge was repaired, they joined the traffic jams leading to Sanibel.
This fall, a little more than a year after Ian, they will put aside work and focus on baseball. Soukup, 54, plans to play in the 35s, 45s and 53s.
He’s eager to return for a reason likely familiar to all Roy Hobbs players.
“Just playing ball with my friends,” Soukup said.
One of those friends is, of course, Cosentino.
Soukup values what Cosentino brings to dugouts.
“He’s organized,” Soukup said. “He knows the game very well. He loves the game.”
There is more, according to Soukup.
“He knows people,” Soukup said.
Cosentino is a leader in business and baseball and knows how to handle people. He values character both at work and in dugouts.
He said Soukup is a great player who in his estimation is a 50-plus age group version of a 5-tool player who can take extra bases. But more important than hitting or fielding or throwing or running is another attribute.
“Probably the best teammate on my teams,” Cosentino said.
Now, they’re back to baseball, back to the game they love and their teammates.
No more of the work challenges that could be vexing. Cosentino tries keeping things in perspective.
“It’s been frustrating,” Cosentino said. “But not as frustrating as people living without houses.”
The delays changed his timeline projects.
“I was planning on having everything done by Oct. 1,” Cosentino said.
That would be 1 year and 3 days since Ian.
In the weeks after the storm, Cosentino often drove his blue Chevy Silverado to Sanibel.
“The first week out here was like the Wild West,” Cosentino said last year.
For virtually every working day for a year, these baseball buddies ventured to the island. They’ve seen mountains of debris cleared away from roadsides and homes and condos repaired.
The 52-year-old Cosentino will return this fall with his Lumberjacks, playing in the 35s and 45s and managing the 53s.
He’s also changing careers. He and partners plan to soon open a D-BAT batting cage and instructional facility in Naples. There is already one in Fort Myers.
The days of constantly running out to Sanibel may be over for Cosentino and Soukup.
Now, they’re back to being baseball players. And teammates. Teammates and friendship are what Roy Hobbs means to them above everything, above wins and losses, championships and honors and trophies and plaques.
“I feel I got a lifetime’s worth of friends through Roy Hobbs Baseball,” Soukup said.