Sunday, September 20, 2020

Slow-Pitch Softball Keeps Seniors Active & Fit


From left: Ron Burger, Angelo Polizzi and Jerry Engle patiently wait their turn. Photos by Maria Lamb

From left: Ron Burger, Angelo Polizzi and Jerry Engle patiently wait their turn. Photos by Maria Lamb

Be careful, lots of new guys hurt themselves by doing too much too fast. It’s the advice given by the seasoned players to the newbies showing up at the pick-up games for the first time. Player safety is the number one concern, as injuries at this age take much longer to heal. A lot of the players are in the same boat; knee braces, artificial knees, hips or both, heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, and just about anything else you can think of. The games keep the players’ minds off

Waiting for their turn at bat, from left: Rick Beneditti, John Toti, Bill Shurina and Billy Moors.

Waiting for their turn at bat, from left: Rick Beneditti, John Toti, Bill Shurina and Billy Moors.

of their limitations. They all want to have fun, and sometimes they forget they are not kids anymore.

For many Marco Island seniors age 55 and above, slow pitch softball is a way of life. Each week around 25 or more swingin’ seniors wrap up their aching joints, bandage their cuts and bruises, and massage their sore muscles to play slow pitch softball at Winterberry Park. Not even the horde of stinging mosquitos and sweltering heat can dampen their desire to play ball. These are the “boys of summer.”

Some played sports in

Jimmy Cuevas, aka “Brooklyn” is always in high spirits, even in oppressing heat and humidity.

Jimmy Cuevas, aka “Brooklyn” is always in high spirits, even in oppressing heat and humidity.

high school or college, some played adult softball, and others are brand new to the game. All walk-ins are welcome to play. Summer is purely recreational and the players are more relaxed as they hone their skills for the upcoming winter competitive season. There is a lot of playful razzing and kidding around at the dugout. It’s all about camaraderie. The pickup games are also a major social outlet for the players. In their off days, players often play golf together or meet up for lunch. About once a month a
Power hitters like Bill Shurina can whack the ball all the way to the fence using high performance bats.

Power hitters like Bill Shurina can whack the ball all the way to the fence using high performance bats.

coed dinner is organized.

Just because these are summer pickup games doesn’t mean there aren’t rules, although they are more relaxed. Sliding into a base is not allowed. Every batter must run for himself until he reaches the safety of a base, only then can a designated runner take over for him. Other rules include no stealing bases, and a player will be called out by the catcher/umpire if he gets two strikes and hits two foul balls.

And like most sports, players come equipped with their favorite go-to bats. Brand names

Age is just a number for Billy Moors, one of the older members of the senior softball league.

Age is just a number for Billy Moors, one of the older members of the senior softball league.

like Miken or DeMarini are printed boldly on the barrel. With these high performance bats, the power hitters can whack that ball to the fence and beyond.

You often hear new players say, “After I retired to Marco, I was looking for a way to exercise and every time I drove by Winterberry field and saw the guys playing, it looked like fun.” The guys get to be 12 years old again!

Pick-up games are Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:15 AM at Winterberry Park. For more information on Marco Island’s Senior Softball League, visit marcoseniorsoftballleague.com.

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