At 53 years old, Director of Health Care Consulting Adrian Rios faces consistent disbelief when he tells others he plays baseball—and he’s pretty good at it.
“Not softball. Baseball,” he says time and time again.
His team, the Panthers, plays in the largest amateur baseball league in the country, the Men’s Senior Baseball League. They’ve played out of Long Island for the past 30 years and have won 15 championships and two national championships over time.
Playing baseball has helped Adrian become the effective communicator and team player he is today, making him an excellent fit in BKD’s New York office.
A True Teammate
Adrian is grateful for the variety of players and personalities and ultimately the friendships the Panthers have given him. He continues to learn how to work effectively with and understand all different types of people.
Sanitation workers, policemen, a retired fireman, a CPA, construction company and fence company owners and a UPS worker—his best friend—all make up the team. The Panthers are a family, and most have known each other for more than 30 years.
Every October, the Panthers make the trip to Arizona for a six-day national tournament. The tournament is divided into minimum-age brackets starting at 18 and going up to 73 and over. More than 300 teams attend, coming from throughout the U.S., the Caribbean, Australia and even Russia.
The team rents a large house for the week of the tournament.
“It’s usually about 14 to 15 of us and we all have chores—we cook all week long,” Adrian says.
They cook, clean, laugh and play baseball. For one week, they truly live like a family.
The team has been going to this tournament for the past 21 years, only missing once in 2001—the year of the September 11 attacks.
One of Adrian’s teammates and great friends, now retired, was at ground zero. He lost four firemen that were part of his fireman family.
The team stayed in New York.
“We made a team decision to not attend that year because we couldn’t leave our teammate at ground zero doing that work, and go play baseball,” Adrian says.
Just a Kid (with Two MSBL Arizona World Series Rings)
At four years old, Adrian was living in Corona, New York, across from Shea Stadium—the home park of the New York Mets at the time. He remembers going to games with his dad, and started playing baseball at 7 years old.
It’s almost no wonder he’s been playing organized baseball ever since.
He considers himself a scrapper—he plays outfield and shortstop and bats second on the team. More than anything, he loves being on the field.
“I’m so engulfed with work when I’m at work,” he says. “When I go play baseball for those two hours, I’m a kid.”
“I put on a baseball uniform, I’m throwing myself in dirt, I’m sliding, and it gets me away from work and having to be an adult—for however long the game lasts.”
When the Panthers won their first national championship game in the 18 and over division, eight of the nine starting players were over 43 years old. Although they won, it wasn’t without a fight.
In the seventh inning, the Panthers got a base hit to drive in the winning run, but things got close in the ninth. The opposing team had their tying run on third base and the winning run on second.
When the Panthers’ center fielder made a fully laid-out diving catch—that, if missed, would have scored both runs—they won the game and everybody ran out, cheering, to center field.
Two years later, the dedicated, competitive Panthers won their second national championship and earned their second World Series rings.
Baseball is a big time commitment, but for Adrian, it’s worthwhile. He’s grateful for the friendships made, the hard work and accomplishments and the feeling he gets on the field.
“Everyone wants to be a baseball player when they’re kids,” Adrian says, “and at the age of 53 I’m still playing competitive baseball.”
A Warm BKD Welcome
Before finding his home with BKD, Adrian spent time with large organizations like Optum and Blue Cross Blue Shield, where he truly came into his passion within the long-term health care space. The New York office is happy to have Adrian and his health care expertise on board.
“With Adrian’s help, the New York office is excited to bring a new skill set to BKD in the area of managed care operations and contracting,” says Partner Koy Dever. Koy credits Adrian with having a genuine ability to connect with people and a true desire to assist and serve clients.
“He is a subject matter expert in the Medicare Advantage I-SNP model,” she says, “and has tremendous business development abilities.”
Managing Director Deborah Lynch appreciates Adrian’s professional reliability. Adrian’s door is always open, showing his willingness to collaborate and help with various projects whenever needed.
When Adrian’s addition to BKD was announced, Manager Nick Rivera’s transfer to New York from Cincinnati also was announced.
“Adrian brings a wealth of experience to the table and his addition is just one example of the excitement and opportunity here in the New York marketplace,” says Nick.
He also says he may have to bring his glove back from Ohio so they can toss the ball around.
It’s little wonder Adrian is a great match for the BKD environment. With a love of learning, knowledge of strategic planning and the ability to think outside the box, Adrian will continue to grow within the health care space.
The same hard work and dedication that has carried him on the field continues to follow him in the office environment.
“It’s really invigorating to see that everyone is on board—everyone is driving for excellence,” he says. He’s incredibly excited to be working with BKD and helping expand our footprint.
“The energy that is prominent here is really exciting,” he says. “It’s really been a great ride and I look forward to the future.”