SOFTBALL LEAGUE LETS SENIORS RELIVE THEIR GLORY DAYS
Ah, high school: Strong body, sharp mind, quick reflexes. But, as they say, no one gets any younger.
Before you know it, you’ve hit middle age: Senior moments, bad knees, failing eyesight. Some people don’t let that stop them, though, and they continue to live out their Glory Days.
Madison-area men over 55 have banded together for the past six years to do just that by taking part in the Greater Madison Senior Softball League (GMSSL), sponsored by Smart Motors. Starting May 4, games run throughout the summer, taking place every Wednesday at Middleton’s Bowling Green Recreation Center.
Last year, some 200 senior men took to the diamond in a league where the average age was 67-years-old, and even more are expected for the 2016 season. Although it’s intended to be fun and recreational, it’s still a competitive league with a final championship. Currently, there are upwards of 12 teams, and registration for additional teams is being accepted via the leagues official website (www.greatermadisonseniorsoftball.com). There’s always room for more players, regardless of physical limitations.
This year also marks the first time an over-65 league will be introduced. The GMSSL decided to add the league for players who expressed a desire to play but wanted just a little less competitiveness. League organizers say that players over the age of 65 can play in either or both leagues if they choose.
Steve Siegler, one of the 6 commissioners of the league, says the returning roster of players have had their own share of battles with various physical ailments, but you would scarcely realize it from watching them play.
“These guys have battled cancer and heart attacks, diabetes, knee and hip replacements, and other health issues,” he says. “To most people, after events like that, they might hang it up. Not in the GMSSL—for the love of the game drives them to play through their golden years.”
Love of the game is what attracted 82-year old twins Mel and Marv Heiser to participate in the GMSSL. They are currently the oldest players in the league, but they can still play ball with the best of them. They have participated for the past three seasons and are expected to head back to the ball park this year.
However, anyone who has ever taken a turn at bat or thrown a ball across the infield knows softball, like baseball, has its physical challenges. League organizers are aware of this, so they made modifications to keep game play both competitive and safe. They use a special softball that’s actually soft called “The Clincher.” This modified softball that makes it more difficult to hit long drives and keeps the action contained inside the park. Also, base runners are allowed to overrun second and third base, and have a commitment line 20 feet from home plate.
The Greater Madison Senior Softball League was started in 2010 by childhood friends Ray Blum and Bob Ruhland. GMSSL is open to men 55 years and older. Registration for additional teams is now being accepted. Regular league games will take place every Wednesday starting on May 4 at Middleton’s Bowling Green Recreation Center, located at 7625 Lisa Lane. The 55-and-over league will start at 8:45 a.m., while the 65+ starts at 10 a.m. For more information, check out the leagues website at www.greatermadisonseniorsoftball.com.