Tiefenthaler baseball Hall of Fame

For love of the game

Insurance has been good to Randy Tiefenthaler, he admits, and it’s been a successful 30-year career. For the last six of those years, he’s worked as the manager of Farmers Mutual of Warren County, a Grinnell Mutual member in Warrenton, Mo.

But really, he said, “I work to pay for my baseball habit.”

Sure, he had to feed his family and make house payments. But really, it’s about baseball. The man loves baseball.

And, it turns out, despite a missed opportunity with the Red Sox because of an injury — and subsequent string of injuries that set him back several years — baseball loves Tiefenthaler right back.

In April, 2019, he was inducted into the 2019 class of the Greater St. Louis Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.

On the field

Tiefenthaler was about 10 years old when America’s favorite pastime lured him in. And 50 years later, it’s definitely still his favorite pastime.

He grew up in Troy, Mo., playing “town ball,” local baseball clubs in many small towns around the state (and country).

“Every town had its own team, and at the senior level (18+) it was a big event every week during the season,” Tiefenthaler said “There weren’t that many other distractions in a small town, and 200 or 300 people would come out for a regular game. For All-Star games, we’d get 400 to 500 spectators. It was really good baseball, too.”

Tiefenthaler, a pitcher, would know. He went on to pitch in college at Missouri Baptist College on scholarship, helping the team to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championship.

Life and work (and more baseball)

Even the most dedicated player grows up and has a life off the field. After college, Tiefenthaler did all the grown-up things — got a job, married Beverly Tiefenthaler, had three sons (yes, they play baseball), and coached the sport.

But the pitcher’s mound always called.

Over the years, since his enforced break because of injuries, Tiefenthaler played for the Eastern Missouri Baseball Association, and eventually joined the Roy Hobbs league (for players 35+).

Since 2014, he has pitched for the St. Louis-affiliated Midwest Pirates in the Roy Hobbs league — also known as the “second-chance league” because so many ex-professional players join. The games are played on major-league spring-training fields.

In 2015, in the over-50 division, Tiefenthaler and his Pirates teammates won their World Series in Florida, with Tiefenthaler pitching two shutouts.

The next inning(s)

Though Tiefenthaler’s love of the sport — and the happy hours he commits to it — haven’t wavered across the years, his perspective on it has evolved.

He plays a couple of times a week April through August. September brings a chance to play for a local league championship and November is the Roy Hobbs tournament in Ft. Myers, Fla. Then the cycle starts all over again in February, back in Florida for the pre-season.

“I’m having more fun now than ever,” he says. “It’s basically semi-pro ball and it can be intense, but it’s more about teamwork and camaraderie. In college, it was super-serious and competitive. We were actually competing with each other — everyone was trying to get tapped for the big leagues.”

Tiefenthaler thinks of baseball now like an equalizer. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, what socio-economic strata or place. On the field, you’re all equal and you’re working with others for a common goal,” he said.

“My most lasting friendships have been made through baseball, and it’s hard to express how much it has enriched my life.”

Talking to Tiefenthaler, it’s clear you’d have to pry his cleats off his cold, dead feet to end his decades-long career. “I’m about to turn 60, and I can throw 80 mph pain-free. I plan to play until I can’t.”

Because, after all, the Roy Hobbs league has a 70+ division.

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