Dave Joseph didn’t begin playing baseball until he was 39 years old. Now he’s 54, and pitching for the Brockton A’s with his son, Steven Joseph. They’re living the dream.
If you’ve been around the amateur baseball circuit in New England for more than about 5 minutes, you know who Dave Joseph is. For everybody else, he’s the mustachioed 54-year old pitcher from Brockton with the rubber arm. At a Boston MABL tryout one year in the late 90’s, after the JUGS pitching machine failed to start, he threw batting practice to all 100 hopefuls who tried out, probably around 1500 pitches. Yet, what makes Dave Joseph truly unique is more than his mechanical arm. It’s the fact that he never played baseball until he was 39-years old, that he almost never walks a batter, and that he’s been a teammate of his son, Steve, for six years.
Dave Joseph hails from Brockton, MA and has always been a baseball enthusiast, but had never actually played an organized game himself until later in life. Dave coached his son Steve’s youth baseball teams from Little League through PONY and Colt League, and through American Legion.
When Steve finished high school and his youth baseball career came to an end, Dave wasn’t ready to call it quits. Dave saw an ad in the Brockton Enterprise for an amateur baseball team seeking players. His son Steve told him to stay home, that he’d never make the team. Yet, after a successful tryout as a pitcher, and practices the next four Saturdays, Dave was the Opening Day pitcher for the Brockton A’s in the Boston Men’s Baseball League. And did I say he was 39.
As Steve was wrapping up his baseball career and graduating from high school in 2000, Dave was just starting out. Today, Dave remains with the Brockton A’s, and has played with their Age 30+ and Age 40+ teams. At the same time, he’s also pitched stints for the Wayland White Sox, Newton Red Sox and Duxbury Twins. Dave once threw a no-hitter for the Duxbury Twins versus the Sharon Eagles in 2004.
Dave also pitches in the RIMSBL for the Rhode Island Salty Dogs, both their Age 42+ and Age 52+ teams, where last summer, he pitched three consecutive complete games and won all three – on the same day.
While Dave Joseph’s 55-49 record in the last decade of Boston MSBL play may seem average, what’s anything other than average is that he throws all day long and doesn’t walk anybody. Dating back to the beginning of the 2007 season, Dave has thrown 144 2/3 innings in the league and has walked just 1 batter. One. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 53-to-1 during that stretch.
Dave is proud of his consistency and durability:
“I see the batter strictly as the enemy. Only one of us is going to look good. If I get to a third ball, I have to give him something to put in play, and hope for the best. That, and I have probably thrown more pitches in the Boston area over the last 10 years than anybody.”
Case and point. One time back in 2001 during the Winterball Spectacular, Dave pitched Game 1 of a doubleheader for the Age 30+ squad and got the win over the Age 18+ team. For Game 2, the Age 18+ team was a player light, so Dave pitched that game for the younger guys versus the older guys. He won that game, too.
Dave is so consistent with his ability to throw strikes that he was once approached by the Brockton Rox Professional Baseball Club to be their batting practice pitcher.
“Somebody saw me somewhere and asked if I could pitch. I said ‘I can pitch for anybody, anywhere.’ And in 2006 and 2007, that’s exactly what I did.” Dave became a professional strike thrower for the Brockton Rox in the Can-Am League.
“I could throw all day long, that’s what they liked about me.”
Dave attributes his arm endurance to something quite unexpected: Age.
“My arm has no wear and tear because I didn’t start playing until I was almost forty. I started fresh while everybody else already had 30 years of wear and tear on their arms. My age is what gives me my longevity.”
But wait, there’s more.
Dave’s son Steve had tried to get back into baseball in 2001 with the MABL Boston Mets, but hurt his arm and his career seemed over. After a brief return in 2004 with the Randolph Grays, Steve joined his dad in the 2006 MSBL World Series Father/Son Baseball Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona to play for the Rhode Island Cardinals. Together, they won a national championship. And then they won another national championship together in 2007. They’ve been playing in this tourney together ever since.
Interestingly, Arizona was not the first time the Joseph’s played together.
Was Dave was playing in the Age 40+ division Brockton A’s and Steve was about 13-years old, the A’s only had eight players once day. Their opponent allowed Steve to suit up to fill the ninth position. Steve played third base that game, and ultimately had the game-winning hit. As a result of that performance, the league instituted the “Steve Joseph Rule” that no player could play in the Age 40+ division until they were actually aged forty.
Ironically, in 2010, while just 28-years old, Steve received a waiver from the Boston Men’s Baseball League to play on the Age 30+ Brockton A’s with his father even though he had a few years until his thirtieth birthday. They remain A’s teammates to this day.
For Dave, to finally play with his son Steve on a regular season team after all these years has been quite a treat.
“It’s so special that you can’t believe it. It’s amazing. I only started coaching baseball in the first place so I could watch him, and now we play together. There are days I will start pitching and he will relieve me, and vice-versa. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have picked up the game.”
Steve agrees that playing with his dad is special, and he didn’t always appreciate it like he does today.
“As a kid, he pitched batting practice every day from when school got out until sundown. I never thought anything of it until he started playing games for real. Once my arm started to slow down, I really started to appreciate what it takes to do what he does. Now he’s the ironman of the league. He’s always had the ability to throw too many pitches, and now he does.”
And now that the Joseph’s are teammates, they are nearly inseparable on the ballfield once again. What once was a role reversal has turned into a family merger.
For Dave: “I only wanted to be like Steve. To get quality time with him before the game, to then play the game, and then to laugh and joke after the game. It’s unbelievable.”
Steve agreed: “When I was young, anytime I was playing baseball, it was with my dad. It’s something that we’ve always done together. For me, it’s been normal.”
The relationship between Dave and Steve Joseph is anything but normal. It’s exceptional.
Head down to Edgar Field in Brockton some weekend and see for yourself. There is a pretty good chance you’ll see Dave or Steve Joseph on the mound for the A’s. And maybe before the day is done, you’ll see both of them.
Brett Rudy lives in Boston, Massachusetts where he created Baseball Is My Life, and is co-founder of Charity Hop Sports Marketing, helping athletes raise money for their philanthropic initiatives. Brett helped launch Charity Wines with more than 30 professional athletes, selling more than one million bottles of wine. Brett is also the creator of the Corked Bat Collection, 100 Innings of Baseball for ALS, the Cooperstown Classic at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Winterball for Toys for Tots. In his spare time, Brett plays outfield in the Boston Men’s Baseball League.