Dugout Creates ‘Baseball’ Brothers
By MIKE MURPHEY
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Steve Lebay says his parents endowed him with three sisters. It took baseball, though, to give him his brother.
Steve met Pat Bussey on a ball field in Akron, Ohio, in 1986. The game back in those days before Roy Hobbs baseball was softball. They say they were strangers for only a moment before circumstances seemed to dictate their relationship.
“I played shortstop, and he played second,” Steve said, “so we had to get to know each other that way. I batted third and he batted fourth, so it was like we were always together. Two peas in a pod now for 25 years.”
“We both took the same approach to playing ball,” Pat recalled. “Competitive, play the best you can and try to play the game the right way.”
But their affinity for each other wasn’t limited to the ball field.
“We just clicked like brothers,” Pat said. “We have the same sense of humor, the same values, and that’s how we view each other – as brothers.”
When they met on that softball field, neither had played much ball since Little League. But softball only whetted their appetites for the real thing. So when a teammate told them he’d found a place to play baseball in local Roy Hobbs league, they followed him over.
“We were just ready to try something a little more challenging,” Pat said.
Their first team was the Clippers, then the Mariners for a couple of years. And by then they were eligible to move up to a 38-and-over league, and onto the MudHens.
“And once you’ve played for the MudHens,” Steve laughed, then you’re a MudHen. We’ve been on the MudHens for 12 years now.”
They both describe the Mud Hens as an extended family, and it’s a group of players that populate 4 age divisions: Veterans, Masters, Legends and Classics.
“Everyone on that time comes out to just have fun,” Steve said. “We all realize that nobody draws a paycheck for doing this. We’re not pro’s. We all make mistakes, and we can joke about that.”
Over the years, their relationship has come to transcend the baseball field.
“His kids call me Uncle Pat,” Pat says, “and mine call him Uncle Steve. We play golf together, go to pro sports games together, and just hang out together.”
“I love him to death,” Steve said. “I’d do anything for him, and he’d do anything for me.”
They have been to the Roy Hobbs World Series together for a decade now. Steve had to miss a couple of years during that run, once for his son’s wedding and once due to injury, but he says he was on the phone every evening getting the game report from Pat.
They both plan to keep playing until they “can’t play anymore.” And they clearly expect that to be a while. But when the day finally comes that they have to walk away from the game they love, they say the personal relationship will remain.
“This is a bond between us,” said Steve, “that I honestly believe will never go away.”
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Occupation: Truck driver for bread company
2012 World Series Team: Kent MudHens, 48s and 55s
Positions: 3B and 1B
Favorite Baseball Memory: “A couple of years ago one of our MudHens hit an inside-the-park home run during the World Series and barely made it to home plate. When he got there, he just collapsed. It was pretty funny.”
Quote: “We both take the game seriously. Not to the death, but seriously enough that we want to get better at it.”
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Occupation: Transportation manager for towing company
2012 World Series Team: Kent MudHens 48s
Favorite Baseball Memory: “We were in a quarterfinal game at the World Series against a team from Atlanta. Pat was on third base, and I was on deck. Our hitter hit a fly ball to center field in the Lee County Stadium and Pat tagged up. The centerfielder fired a rocket to the plate and the catcher caught the ball in time to run up the line to tag Pat out. Come to find out the centerfielder was also their best pitcher.”
Quote: “I grew up with three sisters, and Pat is the brother I never had.”