TRIBUTE TO JOHN DEBENEDICTIS
John DeBenedictis, our league founder and President, passed away on Monday, August 17 after a lengthy and courageous battle with leukemia. Arrangements for his funeral are in progress and we will pass them on as soon as they are available.
Please take the time to read the fine tribute below that Pat Fynes prepared in honor of John.
It is hard to comprehend John has passed, hard to fathom I will not speak with him on the phone again, sad to realize that never again will I hear that greeting of his; “How you doing, my man?” He will be so sorely missed.
On behalf of Lois, Jarrett, and Danielle, all of John’s family, all of John’s friends, and all those in the John D Baseball Community, I want to try and express what is being felt today. Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Neither is devotion or dependence or joy. But John was all of these. John loved life completely and lived it intensely. John provided support in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He was always, and in all ways, by our side.
John volunteered much of his time throughout his life, including coaching baseball, football, and basketball teams, serving as President of our Baseball League, managing annual banquets, and donating numerous hours to volunteer groups and charitable organizations.
I never saw John teach a course, but as he did with all things in his life, I know the effort he put forth made him very effective. He would tell me stories of how he helped students, and when I would ask questions, I would learn how the student would express their appreciation to John. In typical John fashion, the students were always the focus of the discussion, not his teaching ability, not his mentoring talent, or his unique ability to relate to a student of any age.
If John felt a goal was worth achieving, John would be demanding, but never demeaning. John would go to any length for his family and friends. His love and concern for them over the years came through loud and clear to me, and I hope they not only appreciated the effort he put forth, but that they expressed it to him by their actions
John taught his children many things. They learned that education, experience, and memories are three things that no one can take away from you. They learned that when someone hurts your feelings, it’s unimportant unless you persist in remembering it. They learned to never underestimate the potential and power of the human spirit. They learned that there is no elevator to success; you have to take the stairs. John has been a symbol to so many, sometimes of defiance and daring, sometimes of skill and wit, and sometimes of faith and conviction. During these past few months, John has come to symbolize the courage of coping, the valor of unceasing resistance, and the bravery of persistence.
As with many of us, John always enjoyed playing sports. We both had the belief that through sports, we can learn of the wondrous capacity and the remarkable resiliency of the human spirit. It is through John that his family and friends learned of the depth and breadth of love without boundaries.
John’s love for his family was intense and real. It was the kind of love everyone should want in their life. John lived a comfortable life, knowing that the happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
It was so sad to watch John regress, one who had been always fiercely independent, able to handle whatever problems life threw his way, and he never feared any of it. He finally ran into something he couldn’t handle, but it took 77 years for it to develop. It should not have been so shocking, but it was. What made it so difficult was seeing John handle life with such ease for 76 and ¾ years, never facing a problem he couldn’t handle, never fearing an opponent in the ring, never yielding to the man on the other side of the net, the swimmer in the lane beside him, never afraid to go into battle for a cause in which he believed. Living through his decline was a gut-wrenching event to witness, and as his swallowing became hard and breathing became labored, I literally felt myself struggling to breath, felt the lumps in my throat more difficult to dissuade.
But without a doubt, his final time on this earth was made easier by the care and comfort provided by family and friends. The Baseball League that he founded saluted him back in June, providing him with several items that I know he appreciated. One of the items was a check for $18,000, given in the hope that John could take his wife and children on a fabulous vacation. But the sickness came too quick, overwhelming his body so that he was not able to go. So now the money is dedicated to an educational fund for the children. The Tri-State Baseball League was renamed The John A. DeBenedictis Baseball League, LLC. So now when all of us are gone, and our names are forgotten to all but our family, John’s name will be eternalized and live in perpetuity. That means my grandson, Max, will be saying John’s name when he starts playing in this league in 2063.
John was a great friend to so many. John was the type of friend that did not passively nod approval. He was the type of friend who cares. An Arabian proverb tells us: “A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a writer of essays and poems in the 1800’s, said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” John lived that statement his entire life. John took the time to not only know us, but to be with us. At this stage of our lives, we should be well aware how important friends are. They rank right up there with family, always ready to help out and to offer encouragement and support. We often make the mistake by judging our friends by what they do for us, instead of looking at what we have done for them. We make the mistake of maintaining a balance sheet, withholding our friendship when we think the accounts are out of alignment. John did not make those mistakes. John nurtured friendships, realizing that people will forget what you said and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
There is a saying that he is “One in a million.” There is a lot of truth to that saying when speaking about John. Having known him for 15 years, I have discovered his authenticity, benevolence, candor, caring, chivalry, compassion, integrity, honesty, and patience. Let me give you one example. I had an issue last year when it was discovered that I had Afib. In talking with John, I explained that the Doctors recommended that I not play for a couple of weeks and undergo some testing. I arrived home from the tests and pulled into my driveway. Sitting at the front of our house was John. He asked how I made out, we talked for about 10 minutes, and then he had to leave as he was teaching a class that night. So John took about a 4 hour round trip to personally see how I was doing for 10 minutes. I guess you could say that John was not one in a million but one in 7.3 billion, the number of people in the world, as he was the only person in the front of the house that day, something I will never forget.
John admired certain people for various reasons, and one of those he admired was General Douglas MacArthur, the five-star General of World War I and II. He mentioned to me years ago about a great speech MacArthur delivered at West Point upon his retirement. A little research enabled me to see why John loved that speech: I quote here the final paragraph: “The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint; they have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is of wondrous beauty, watered by tears and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. Always remember Duty, Honor, Country. These three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be”. John loved these words as they were a reflection of his own life and views.
John had a favorite saying: “Make this the greatest day yet.” I believe he is up above, looking down, and saying that to us right now. As I believe John is now the leadoff hitter for his new team in Heaven, known as the Saints, I am going to ask him to see to it that I never strike out again and my batting average never dips below .750. This will really test his friendship.
John, some day we will talk again. Thank you for being the kind of person we all admire.
Welcome to the John A. Debenedictis Baseball League, LLC Website
THE JOHN A. DEBENEDICTIS BASEBALL LEAGUE, LLC
As of Saturday, June 13 2015 our league was renamed THE JOHN A. DEBENEDICTIS BASEBALL LEAGUE, LLC in his honor. Pat Fynes organized a gathering for John on Saturday, June 13 at Screwballs Sports Bar and Grill in King of Prussia, PA. About eighty people attended and Pat announced the league name change and presented John with two unique large framed memorabilia of the new league logo and a hand-crafted bat and ball flag, and a check for $18,000 for John and his family for a summer vacation. Several players spoke and thanked John for all that he has done over the years since founding the league. More details and photos will be provided in a separate report that Pat Fynes is currently working on.
The Tri-State 50+/55+/65+ Senior Baseball League, LLC, is a baseball league for baseball players 50 years of age and older. We have three separate leagues ( 50+, 55+, and 65+) that play from early April through August. Playoffs start in September and can go to the middle of October. Additionally, the league plays a Father/Son tournament over the Labor Day weekend. The league strives to play an exhibition game annually to support a local charity. The 50+ and 65+ leagues play on Sundays. The 55+ league plays primarily on Saturdays with some week night games.
For any questions about our league, contact John DeBenedictis via e-mail at JohnDe@Tristate48.com or call 302-376-3739.
If you are unable to reach John or have questions regarding league finances, please contact Pat Fynes, League Treasurer, via e-mail at pf7@Tristate48.com
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