Founder & Chairman
No Bats Baseball Club
The No Bats Baseball Club was founded in the spring of 1991 over a patio lunch at Doral Country Club in Miami. I lived and worked nearby, and a co-worker talked me into renting out the Dodgertown spring training complex for a long weekend of fun and baseball. At first I thought the idea was silly: I didn’t have enough good pals for a card game, much less a baseball game, but the idea intrigued me. I was 36 at the time and missed playing for fun with my friends. By the time dessert was delivered, I decided I’d give them a call.
Dodgertown was a three-hour drive up the Atlantic coast, tucked away in scenic Vero Beach. The Los Angeles Dodgers built Holman Stadium and the complex in 1953 and returned each spring until moving to Arizona in 2008. The place reeked baseball history. The roll call of Dodgers and visiting ballplayers who had played and stayed there through the decades was remarkable. The complex was complete with hotel rooms, dining facilities, a golf course, and pub. In other words, it was perfect for four teams of middle-aged Little League graduates to recapture the chaos of youth.
I planned on the event being a one-time thing. Guys who knew guys called friends, brothers-in-law, former classmates and teammates, and co-workers. Within two days, 42 guys signed up. In less than a week, we were sold out.
The club had four rules but no name, a detail the Dodgertown event planners said they needed. Our weekend was designed for guys to temporarily duck the responsibilities of work, family, bill paying, and parenting in a positive, supportive, brotherhood environment. Four things seemed to be guardrails necessary to protect that ambition:
Thirty years later, those rules still work fine. Needing a name, I called the group “No Bats, Just Balls” but found it embarrassing to explain to the female staffers coordinating our event. I shortened it to “No Bats” and we’ve been known by that ever since.
Dodgertown was a perfect venue to launch, and we returned the following two years, then hit the road and went to Cooperstown during the 1994 Major League Baseball work stoppage. We returned to Dodgertown for year five, but the road beckoned. If the club were to sustain, I knew we had to explore baseball across America.
Our charity focus was created by Dallas real estate title whiz Ted Darby, who took over the books from me (and saved the club) and also championed giving back as part of our emerging brand. Darb has been instrumental in our drive to $2 million raised and handed over, every penny of which has gone to a wide variety of wonderful causes.
Who knew a club born from an idea could sustain three decades, help thousands of people, and create a brotherhood stronger than steel?
Each fall when we get together, I remind the guys, “The power of us is us.” When a man joins No Bats his life will be enriched, as is ours. This is what the power of us is: an elastic unsnappable bond that keeps us all close when someone takes his turn in the barrel.
Through the years we have lost founding members to 9/11, a drunken driver, and the ravages of old age. Two great additions—one old, one young—have fallen to Alheimer’s and inoperable disease. Absent friends who remain with us forever, still we push on.
The club motto I paraphrased from Jackie Robinson: “A man’s life means nothing, except for the impact it has on others.” We have embraced Jackie’s message and do our best to prove him right.
We are proud of what we do, how we do it, and everything we have accomplished together. The first thirty years have zoomed by. Today, with a great roster of young talent on board to carry us forward, I trust the next thirty will see the club accomplish even more.
Baseball is a team game played by individuals, the same as the club. The sun is shining. Let’s play forever. Teamwork makes everyone a winner.
May you forever remain safe at home.
Ted (Theo) Simendinger
Founder & Chairman
No Bats Baseball Club
17 April 2020