Boys of Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring

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Editors note: The Daytona Beach Senior Softball Association manages their league on TeamPages.

Boys will be boys until they become men, and then many of them are still boys.

I’m getting ready for another season with Daytona’s Senior Softball League for players over 60. I haven’t had this much fun since Granny fell off the antique bed!

You wouldn’t believe some of these players; by-pass survivors, peg legs, nitro necklaces, crutches in the dugout, blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other…no wait.that’s the umpires.

Players come in every variety…tall and short, overweight, and under weight, but all determined to play. This motley crew includes plumbers,
teachers, bankers, postal workers, medics, entertainers, assembly lineman, tool and die, retired military, preachers, undertakers, custodians,
politicians, pilots etc. We’ve even had former major league pros in the mix. Our ages range from 60 to well into the 80’s. A few are good physical specimens with skills to match. Most, like me, are not.

I played my first game Jan 22, 2003. I had a used child’s glove and a $6.00 bat. My skills were not in high demand but teammates encouraged me and Jocko Boyd was an experienced and patient coach. Other players had been where I was and knew what I faced. I started as a catcher but could hardly throw the ball back to the pitcher. I never hit out of the infield. Running to first without falling was near impossible. I was clumsy and awkward but encouraged to ‘stay with it’. I am very grateful to my teammates. Peg saw to it that I acquired better equipment and proper
shoes. Happy birthday!

This is a great bunch of guys. I couldn’t begin to mention all of them, but they are there to have fun and fun they have..in spades. There’s
Rudy…everybody loves Rudy. If he could talk his way on base he’d be batting 1000. Jerry, about as tall as a Pepsi can, endlessly encourages
everyone; Teddy’s laughter can be heard for all seven innings. Toup, (Jimmy Durante’s double), says he’s going to quit when he’s ninety but he
can’t remember his birthday; One coach threatens to trade his whole team to the ‘Rhode Island Reds. (In case you were not farm raised..RI Reds are chickens.); there’s Tony, whose last name has more letters than the English alphabet; Bobby, (who takes a bus to the outfield), ‘Sargent York’, Fast Eddie, and the list goes on. Great guys all. They can’t get enough fun on the field so twice a year we socialize and hand out the awards. All agree playing softball is a lot more fun than vacuuming. It’s never to cold, or to hot to play. When we’re rained out players mope around like they were weaned on a dill pickle.

Razing is part of the fun. ‘He plays like an old man, someone yells’! ‘He is an old man’ yells another! Get’em a bucket or a stepladder is the usual
when somebody misses what appeared to have been an easy catch. Once when a pitcher’s wind up and delivery seem especially slow, someone commented, ‘I’ve had dental appointments that didn’t take this long’. One player struck out on a bad pitch. Dejected, he meandered back to the dugout, mumbling ‘I quit’! Quickly one of his teammates shot back, ‘We accept your resignation’. When one batter hit a ball to the fence another shouted, ‘I couldn’t hit the ball that far if they’d let me bat from second base.’ Over the fence? Yes, it does happen, and someone is sure to shout.’Hey ump.make’em pee in the bottle’!

No one is exempt from the good natured fun, not even the umps. Rule 13 keeps the jokesters in line: ‘Any player who has never committed an error may criticize his teammates’ poor play. All others are limited to actively providing generous support. Violation of this rule is considered far more grievous than a playing error and violators can be persecuted if not prosecuted.

Then there are the unwritten rules, like ‘Microwave ovens not allowed in the dugout’, and ‘wheel chairs aren’t permitted in the baseline’.  ‘No cell phones in the infield. If you’re breathing you’re on the roster! If you don’t show up, better bring a note from your undertaker. If you can bend, you play infield. If you can throw the ball over 50 feet, you’re an outfielder. If you bring your girl friend, you can play anywhere you like.
Bring your wife, and she can watch in the shade.’  It’s recommended you don’t bring both to the same game.

There are special rules to accommodate the player’s age: Five runs max per inning prevents routs. There is an extra first base and an extra home
plate, one for the baseman and another for the runner…thus eliminating collisions and broken bones. When a player goes down, and it happens, both teammates and opponents rush to his aid.

Are there serious rhubarbs? You bet…for about 30 seconds. Then the umps step in, announce a ruling, everybody gripes for a minute and then the good clean razzing starts anew. By inning’s end everybody’s buddies and ready to pick up the next injured player.

There is genuine camaraderie among the teams. When a player, teammate or opponent, makes an especially good play, both dugouts cheer. Everyone appreciates extra effort and rewards it with good sportsmanship. Games last about 90 minutes. (Some of these guys have to be back at the home by noon.) At the end of each season, teams are mixed up thus increasing the social fellowship and preventing dynasties. In a few months you can get to know almost every player.

The fun, the fellowship and the health benefits supersede many medications.  By the way..my game has improved. I can now throw the ball across the infield, bat in the 4-500 range. I’ve hit doubles, triples and even one home run, and usually do my own running, (except when the score is tight). I’ve made an unassisted double play and recently took part in a triple play…(I hit into it)! Bragging, you bet. I’m healthier and ‘loving it’!

Our new season starts September 14. Come out and play with us. Contact one of these guys for details: Commissioner Rich Suchy at golften@cfl.rr.com/ 760-9388, or Jack Hilgenberg at jackhil3@volusia.com / 760-0540 or me, George Goldtrap at george@happytalk.org / 441-8197. Life begins at 60..on the diamond.

Play ball. Batter up! And pass the liniment, please.


George Goldtrap

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One comment on “Boys of Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring

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