Jefferson's Gentile reflects on time in the Central League
There are fewer and fewer ballplayers the likes of Steve Gentile III around the York-area adult baseball circuit these days.
There are just handful of dedicated guys who have stuck around to play nearly two decades in either the Susquehanna League or the Central League.
Yet there is Gentile — some know him better as SG3 — suiting up game after game for his Central League teammates and the sport he loves.
Dating back to 2003, Gentile has been a bedrock for a Jefferson club that has come a long way since he first joined the lineup. Some 20 years later, Gentile remains a cog for the Titans and manager Pat Schultz.
“He says he’s retiring,” Schultz said after the annual Central League vs. Susquehanna League all-star game this past weekend. “But he’s been saying that every year now, and this is number seven, so there’s a chance we might talk him out of it.”
To think that Gentile would be closing in on completing his 20th season with the Titans is something he never imagined back in his younger days. Now at the age of 39, Gentile relishes every opportunity he gets to put on the uniform.
“I used to say when I was younger that if you’re over 30 and you’re not starting in this league that you have to get the hell out of here,” Gentile said. “Let the young kids play. But then here I am at 39 and still hanging around. I’ve told the guys that I’ve retired nine times, but man this is still fun.”
SG3 isn’t the only Jefferson veteran entertaining thoughts of hanging up the cleats after this season concludes.
“Yeah, I think a lot of the guys here are looking to go out together this year,” Gentile said. “But we’ll see.”
Second generation players: The fact that Gentile played with and against the fathers of some of players in Saturday’s all-star game was something that astonished SG3.
It also was taken as somewhat of a sign for the veteran player.
“I told (Sam) Crater that I played with a couple of these guys’ dads back in the day,” Gentile said. “The Wagners, the Srebroskis and the Toomeys and I thought about it and maybe that’s a sign for me to just hang it up.”
Perhaps the biggest reason that Gentile has stuck around as long as he has so far is due directly to the men he has called teammates. Guys like Tyler Troxel, Joe Jasinski, Crater and others not only continue to play at a high level as the years move on, but they all make playing together as a team that much more enjoyable.
Culture a big factor: Gentile believes that fun culture is something his father, Steve Gentile II, helped create many years ago after taking the Titans from perennial losers to contenders year after year.
“I feel like that culture that we have now is the same one that we had when we started 20 years ago,” Gentile said. “Whether we’re good or bad, we still talk a lot, still chirp a lot and we get on each other, but we don’t take it too seriously. Granted, it’s a lot more fun when you’re winning.
"I think culture is the biggest thing you have to have when you’re building a team and that guys want to play there, come out and be around each other,” Gentile added.
If Gentile does come back again next summer, being around his teammates certainly will be the primary reason.
“If you’re having fun being around the guys, even if you’re not playing, then you’re more likely to come back,” Gentile said. “And win or lose, we’re always Titans together.”