Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Meet Da Paul Meisters

This week it's time to meet another former CFCL Champion.  Paul Zeledon joined the CFCL in 1992 and owned and ran Da Paul Meisters for sixteen years.  He had three money place finishes including a championship in 1994.  Admittedly we had our fun with Paul when, at the draft, he would inquire "What position are you going to put Derrek Lee?"  Since Lee (or any number of other players Paul would ask about) only qualified at firstbase, the question seemed redundant.

But I have to point out that after competing against Paul for a decade and a half I came to realize that Paul is one of the most down to earth, caring people I've ever met.  And as far as his CFCL involvement, he is easily one of the more dedicated and enthusiastic owners we've seen.

You can see his Team Profile by clicking here:

I have said this before with previous owners that you've met here, but Paul has some amazing non-CFCL hobbies.  He shares a few of them with you now.  It's time to meet Da Paul Meisters.

How did you come to join the CFCL in 1992?
I first heard about the league in the summer of 1991, when I was introduced to it by my friend from NIU, Eric Lamb. As I recall, a couple of spots were opening up in the league for 1992, and I think that while I don't recall a formal interview process, I do recall having to show my baseball prowess on at least a couple of different levels. As a White Sox fan competing in an NL only league, I must have shown enough acumen to be accepted.
You are one of only twelve owners to win the CFCL title. Do you recall anything specific from your championship year (1994)?
As an owner who had finished in the middle of the pack in just his second year after bringing up the rear in his inaugural campaign, I don't know that I had any great expectations going into the season. I am sure that one of my goals was finishing in the money. As the season wore on and I was competing for the championship, I was actually a bit torn because of the labor situation and having my White Sox not having a chance to win the division and compete in the postseason and possibly win the World Series. Once it became clear that the strike was going to happen, I was just desperately hoping that my guys would hold on for dear life - and they did. On some levels, it was bittersweet, but on the other hand, to beat arguably the greatest franchise in CFCL history, David Mahlan's Copperfields, I figured that I better get while the getting was good.
You competed for sixteen years in the CFCL. Do you have any specific memories or interesting anecdotes?
By far, I always looked forward to draft day, the Kentucky Derby of our season. You never know what would unfold that day. Sometimes, Eric and I would drive together, and sometimes I would just come by myself because I wanted solitude. I remember the abundance of red licorice and pretzels at the draft table and the time I made a mess because of the bucket of KFC I brought to one draft. In regards to the actual draft, I do remember there was one owner, who I believe was in law enforcement, who consistently bid out of turn. At one point, I turned to him and exclaimed "WAIT YOUR TURN!".
We always hope when a new team joins the league they will create a unique team name that ties in with their own name. You certainly did that. Where did Da Paul Meisters come from?
Da Paul Meisters came from a couple of sources. One was the tie in with Depaul University, who still had a fairly decent basketball program at the time. The source came from the late night TV show Saturday Night Live, where Rob Schneider played on office worker who would always use nicknames for his follow workers. In my case, he would have said somethink like, "hey, its the Paul meister making copies".
When the producers of “Trading the Gator” came to film our league, you ended up quite the star of the silver screen. What do you recall about the filming process for the documentary?
I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. I had done some acting for the White Sox Fantasy camp videos in the late 1990s and I would categorize not a star, but rather a character actor who had achieved cult icon status :). As someone who is generally low key and does not typically like the limelight, this was a chance for my alter ego to be let loose. By far the most dramatic event occurred in middle of the season, when I was driving home from somewhere and turned on a Cub game, only to find out that it had been cancelled due to the tragic death of Darryl Kile of the Cardinals. What made it especially relevant was that not 24-48 hours earlier, my friend Eric had traded for Kile to try and solidify his hold on first place. As soon as I got home, I called and left what would probably be called a cryptic message, as I simply told him I was very sorry about what happened, etc, but did not state what did happen. When he called me back shortly thereafter, I told him. In the grand scheme of things, it was a very small deal what happened to Eric's club, but the way it was portrayed in the film was very compelling. The film makers also came out and filmed me at White Sox fantasy camp in Tuscon, which was cool.
Since you’ve left the CFCL you are still active in baseball. Tell us about the Vintage Baseball League that you are involved in.
Leaving the league was a very difficult decision, but ultimately the best one for me to make at the time. In 2008, I began playing vintage baseball for the Chicago Salmon. We play by the rules of 1858, which, in a nutshell means that pitchers pitch underhanded and can't try to deceive the hitter, hitters can't walk and the only way to strike out is to swing and miss three times, which never happens.  If a ball is hit and caught on one bounce the batter is out, the infielders, save for the shortstop, or rover as they were called then, had to play within a step of the base until contact was made.  The batter could not overrun first base, or he could be tagged out. And last, but by no means least, no gloves - we play bare handed. I hurl (which means pitch, of course) and play second base, which is tough because good hitters can place the ball between first and second and since our first basemen, while they have good hands, typically don't have much range, that means I often have to range far to my left to try and make plays. I go by the nickname of Scooter and the Salmon typically play about 45 games a year, starting in May and ending in October, and we travel the better part of the upper Midwest.
Also, starting in 2009, through my contacts with the Salmon, I manage the Rockford Peaches baseball club that was portrayed in film "A League of their Own" starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks. The film was inspired by the AAGPBL that existed from 1943-1954 and was started by Cubs owner Philip Wrigley. The league is still in its infancy, but we have a number of events this summer, primarily in Wisconsin and Illinois. The girls I manage are of varying degrees of ability, but they are all good girls who work hard, which is all I can ask of them.

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