Glove me tender
Labor of love for men’s baseball league
commissioner Curtis Bacca
By JAMES CORDES
Express Staff Writer
He had visited and worked two Olympics,
four skiing world championships, and hundreds of Downhill World Cups.
But the 90-minute drive to Twin Falls for
hardball was getting too much for Curtis Bacca, of Ketchum.
Bacca has been the point man for the Blaine County Men’s Baseball League
since its inception in the mid-nineties
Enter a man of many traits, or more
specific, many successful business ventures. Nine years ago, Bacca decided to
end his two-summer affair of playing baseball in Twin Falls and to help
introduce Sun Valley to a league of its own – baseball that is.
The Sun Valley Adult Men’s Baseball League
has flourished and Bacca’s behind-the-scenes organizational work has been a big
Bacca, who grew up in Idaho Falls and now
is a young 42, didn’t always have baseball on the mind. Downhill skiing has
taken up most of his attention.
However, although Bacca is a proven
athlete – a three-year varsity football letterman at University of Idaho, with
an eventual degree from Idaho State – it’s off the skis where Bacca has made his
He’s been a world class ski technician
since 1990. Head, a major ski corporation stationed in Austria, picked up Bacca
at the beginning of the decade. The company was quickly attracted to his
meticulous and almost obsessive care and study he gave to the outside influences
that affected skis as they headed down any given mountain.
"The Austrians really took me under their
wing and taught me everything," Bacca, who spends some of his summer days
surfing and taking in Padres games in San Diego, said. "My learning curve was
His work was rewarded as he was asked to
travel the World Cup Circuit with two of the most promising U.S. skiers, Kyle
Rasmussen and Tommy Moe. Salomon Company hired him as well.
Bacca and his skiers met with quick
"Kyle won two World Cup downhills that
year , only the third American to do that," Bacca said, "and I was only
the second American technician to have a World Cup victory under my belt."
With his success, Bacca became a
well-known ski technician and saw the world. And where was the best action?
"Kitzbuehel, Austria." Bacca said.
"Everyone should experience it once.
The Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuehel is considered
the Super Bowl of skiing. It is, according to Bacca, the coolest, harshest, best
skiing event ever. It was something he looked forward to every year.
Keeping busy in the summer was another
goal of Bacca’s, as he prepared for a new, warmer-based venture – the senior
Although a committee initially had the
idea, Bacca soon found himself alone at the helm to get the league kick-started.
"There are some really good athletes in
this valley and the biggest challenge was the slow pitch softball league and
attracting the players from there." Bacca said.
The inaugural league, in 1996, kicked off
with four teams.
For the next eight years, friends
recruited friends, which resulted in some teams getting stronger and other
"The next biggest challenge was breaking
up all the teams last year." Bacca admits. "We really needed to create some
parity in the league."
Although this idea was met with groans
from certain players, the pre-season player draft, conducted much like the Major
League Baseball Draft, was implemented by Bacca and created better baseball with
more competition throughout the league.
"The games are better now." Bacca said,
who also encouraged an all-wood bat league, much like the Major Leagues.
Tired of the constant traveling on the
World Cup, Bacca, in 1997, opened up a local ski shop in Sun Valley, the Waxroom.
Although Bacca did leave the circuit, he
didn’t leave his two skiers, Rasmussen and Moe. Instead, he joined them on the
North American based ski tour, the Jeep King of the Mountain Pro Downhill
Series. The three enjoyed success again.
With Rasmussen winning the tour two out of
his first three years, and Moe right on his tail, Bacca liked being closer to
"It was nice because we were in the
states, went to five or six races, and made some good money." Bacca said.
Soon, the X-Games came calling. The
relatively new competition, which began in 1996, was searching for men of
Bacca’s caliber to work with the skiers.
Bacca took the job and soon was hired out
to different races to prep them for their upcoming competitions.
"I would always get really intense in
testing and prepping the skis before the races," Bacca said.
EXPN.com posted a story about the successful wax crew chief on their website
in 2003. He has worked hard for his successes.
Each fall, Bacca joins a Sun Valley
baseball all-star team that competes in the national World Series of senior
league baseball. The Waxroom is still in business and he is still working during
the X-Games on a hire-out basis. This past February he started working with Sun
He hasn’t forgotten those he started with,
"Tommy, Kyle, and I are still close,"
Bacca said, referring to the successful skiers. "Kyle was in my wedding and I
went to Tommy’s. They’re great guys."
Of course, there is no success without a
sturdy base, for which Bacca gives credit to his family. He married Debbie in
1999 and now has two daughters, Payton who is three and Zoe who is six months.
He keeps them and athletics close to his
"My wife is a huge Red Sox fan and I’m a
Padres fan," Bacca said. "We’re hoping for a Sox-Padres World Series.