An interview with "4 The Fallen"/3n2 infielder Greg Zayas
What branch of service did you serve or are currently serving in?
Army National Guard & Active Duty Army
What years did you serve?
1996 – 2005
What is the highest rank you have achieved?
What was or is your military occupation?
Logistics Officer in Aviation, Airborne and Special Forces Units
What deployments have you been a part of?
Supported Bosnia and Kosovo. Deployed to FOB 33 (Mali, Africa), Afghanistan (OEF),
What base or installations have you been assigned to?
Fort Lewis, WA; Fort Lee, VA; Fort Bragg, NC; Seoul South Korea
Why do you like the game of softball?
It has provided me with the opportunity to travel the World to compete in a game that brings the inner competitive spirit out of me while being able to meet many individuals I now call my family.
Who is the best softball player you have ever seen play?
Everyone can answer with the same players like Andy, Junior, Connell, Rusty, Robo, Hallsy and while I 100% agree with those players, I would like to change it up and mention players that have caught my eye through my years of travelling for softball. I will break it down by best players per country that I have seen play or played with. Yes, softball is played in more countries than just the United States and Canada and these guys are real natives born and raised in the mentioned country. Some of them do not speak English but they all speak SOFTBALL…
In no particular order:
Taipei – Big Hurt (Olympic Volleyball Player who kills a softball)
Korea – Mark (Korean Major League Baseball player converted softball player who can pick the ball at short and hit a softball a mile)
Indonesia – Uki (plays pretty much anywhere on the field and can hit for high average)
Philippines – Mark Ramirez (Filipino Army soldier who plays First base and who can pitch an unlimited arch with the best of them while also hitting the ball as far as anyone I have seen hit)
Hawaii – Umi (is one of the craziest people I have ever met and can hit a softball a country mile and is a great volleyball player as well. He is a helicopter pilot in the Army and was voted best instructor)
Japan – Jeff Libengood (is actually an American but has lived in Japan for over 20 years so I will consider him Japanese for the purpose of this interview – he is known as The Fitness Doctor and he absolutely crushes a softball and can play defense in the infield as good as especially for a big man – he was Mr. Japan as a body buider)
Dominican Republic – Manny Liriano (Infielder that can hit any gap in the outfield and hits for high average as well as hitting line drives out of stadiums. Played with ATS and Sonnys)
Albert Kemp (An Army ball player that has hit some of the furthest bombs I have ever witnessed. He could play the outfield with anyone in the game and always played the game with the upmost respect). Dexter Avery (Another Army player that is the most consistent hitter I have every played with. Hits for high average and has as much power as anyone in the game). Dustin Roberts (Coast Guard / Navy / Reebok player that has stadium power and can hold down the outfield very well for a big man and has a sneaky good arm and speed to make him a 5 tool player), Elmer Mason (another Army player that is like Avery in that he is Mr. Consistent and carries a lot of power. We reference him as Insane Bat Control or IBC),
Who is the best up and coming player in softball and why? There are a few up and coming players worth mentioning: Mike "Iowa" Rasso – outfielder with speed and can hit for high average, Nick "Noodle" Robertson – outfielder with speed that can also hit for high average, Mike "Q" Quarles – smooth in the infield, Cliff "Cdub" Williamson – can pick it in the infield and has pop, Mike Tarwater – smooth infielder that can change the outcome of a game on the defensive side,
What is your nickname in softball?
Too many to list
Where do you call home?
What's your favorite way to spend an off weekend?
Spending time with my girlfriend and our Puppy Yellow Lab who Connell almost killed with a foul ball during the Toys 4 Tots.
What do you do for a living?
Director of Supply Chain for the Phoenix VA Hospital.
Did you play sports in High School / College / Pro?
I played soccer all of my life as I grew up in Germany. Also played football in high school. Played baseball in college and afterwards while in the Army.
How did you get your start in softball and how did you get to the upper level?
While playing baseball in college I was good friends with an owner of a sports shop in Sanford, FL. I was in his shop helping him out with artwork for uniforms when one of his clients (Arthur Barnes – police officer) asked me to play with his team in a prison against inmates. I ended up playing with his team in the prison as well as league night and before you know it I was playing with the Seadogs in the Richmond Round Robin. When I joined the Army, I started playing on Fort Bragg and met an Army Softball Legend Chief Watts who asked me to play with him on Sellers and Sons tourney team and the Korea Guzzlers who play all over Asia. Chief was also the coach of the All Army team where he invited me to try out for the team. When I moved to Arizona I played with a few local teams like AZ Impact and Yur Mama Rocks then eventually was asked to play on a B Conference team called the Canes who were coached by the eventual USSSA State Director.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
I overheard Albert Kemp tell an Army player that he should always play the game as if you were trying out for the team. If you play with that mentality, you will always give it 110%.
What advice can you give a young player trying to break into the upper level?
Be humble… regardless of what everyone thinks, not everyone makes a living playing softball.
What position do you play?
What batting grip do you use?
Tapered bat so I can relax my left pinky on the knob.
What ounce bat do you use?
What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the next softball season?
Here in Arizona we play year round so the offseason becomes a recovery period. I play in a few events and hit BP.
What is your favorite sports team?
What is your favorite sport other than softball?
Do you have any superstitions and if so, what are they?
I have one major superstition and that is not to share any superstitions with anyone.
What is your most memorable softball moment?
Wow… that is a tough question as there have been so many… making the All Army Team is definitely one of them although each championship that I have won with my Korea Guzzlers brothers in overseas tournaments are very memorable as well.
What would be your "at bat" music selection?
Something by Linkin Park
What is the best improvement upper level softball could make?
It is very difficult to make a major change with the down economy. Having a limit of major players on one team would mean that the sponsors will figure out a way to get the best non-major listed players on their team. The team with the best sponsor(s) will end up being the most dominant and we will have to make changes again. I would say that making all of the conference tournaments 12 homeruns regardless of what your team is rated after all it is a Major NIT. If an E team plays in a C NIT then they get to hit 2 Home runs per game.
What is your favorite non-World tournament?
USSSA tourney would have to be the Toys 4 Tots. All of the tournaments in Asia are my ASA favorite.
What is the best softball field you have played at and why?
The Polo Field in Bangkok, Thailand, is very nice. Super fast infield since it is an all grass field. After all, not too many people can say that they played softball in Thailand.
Where is the best place to eat on the road after a game?
During Military Worlds in Panama City Beach we eat at Firehouse Subs at least 4 times in a 3 day weekend. Great subs and customer service is excellent.
What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a softball field?
In the military Senior personnel give out Challenge coins to service members. The Softball Teams in Asia have adopted this tradition and several teams have these coins. The tradition is that if one person drops a coin then everyone has 5 minutes to present their coin. If you do not have your coin then you have to buy a round of drinks for each person that presented one. If everyone presents a coin then the person that challenged the others owes a round of drinks. That said, we were playing in Korea and it was the top of the first inning and a player from another team dropped his coin. Our pitcher was in mid pitch and the ball was hit to an empty field because the entire team had ran off of the field to get their coins. Our coach Tom Costello was jumping up and down and yelling at us to get back on the field. Needless to say, we gave up an in the park home run and no one on our team had to buy beer.