Host families create special bonds with Mustangs players

Jun. 2—Players from all over the country come to St. Joseph to play for the Mustangs in the summertime, and while they bond with each other, sometimes the strongest bonds are formed off the field.

"We treat them like we do our kids," said Larry Orth, who has been hosting Mustangs players for the last 25 years. "You just form a bond. They're lifetime contacts and you really love them as young children."

The job of the host family is to provide housing for players who have traveled to St. Joseph to play for the Mustangs. The players get assigned housing to a volunteer family.

Orth said hosting is a special time of year for him and his wife. Not only is he a Mustangs fan, but he has a little extra love in the game as well.

Kevin Little is another host who has been doing so for 10 years. Little said the bond starts in a simple way.

"Baseball of course," Little said. "The love of the Mustangs."

But it becomes more than that. Both Orth and Little have followed former Mustangs into the rest of their careers.

"We've met so many outstanding young men we've been able to keep track of over the years. Some of the first few that we had or those early years are now married. One of them has four kids," Little said. "It's just, it's exciting to see them progress in life and see where they started."

The players play great on the field but it is also noted they are great men off as well.

Of course the players do well on the field, but their host families emphasized their character off the field.

"We just have some solid young men that are outstanding in their community," Little said. "They're good people. I always say, it's nice to be nice to the nice. It's always easier to, when they're good men and have good values and good strong core beliefs."

For the people unsure about becoming host families, Little has no regrets.

"It's a great experience," Little said. "I don't think you'll regret it, good kids."

While Orth and Little have years of experience as a host family, newer host families also love what they do.

Joella and David Schultz add one player a year to their family for the summer along with their three children. They said it has been a fun experience for them and their kids.

"We are just a baseball family," Schultz said. "They have been active with them outside playing. They really enjoy having somebody around."

The Schultz family is still in contact with the player from last year and recommends families try hosting the players.

"I think it's been a good experience," Schultz said. "I think give it a try."