Passion for softball is a hit for seniors
Chett Piorkowski, 91, the oldest player in the Barefoot Bay Senior Softball League, shares a laugh with Bill Adverssa before a recent game.
The energy on and off the softball field is electric.
The small concession stand is stocked with coffee, donuts and hotdogs. The umpire is in place, the scoreboard is up and the Barefoot Bay Senior Softball League players are ready to go.
“It’s like being in high school again,” Donna Bond said.
Sandi Stokes also enjoyed a recent senior league game.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “It’s just terrific watching these guys still play. I enjoy the enthusiasm of watching the game. We have a great time. We do the wave.”
Bond, Stokes and Gail Buchanan are three of the many diehard fans who come out Tuesday and Thursday morning to support the six-team league of retired men ranging in age from 56 to 91.
“My husband plays,” Buchanan said. “He’s 88. It’s a social thing as well as a sporting event.”
The followers’ enthusiasm is matched by the passion shown by Michael Kilgus, the league president, and by the other players. There are more than 90 active members, including players, umpires, scorekeepers and others who fill a role. Each team plays one game, and many of the players often come out to practice on the days there is no game.
At 91, Chett Piorkowski is the oldest player. He has played in the league for more than 25 years. He never misses a game, despite past injuries and those sustained from a fall this past November.
“I love the game,” he said. “I’ve played all my life. I’m a designated hitter and I coach the bases; I don’t play the outfield.’’
The standard softball rules have been adapted to safeguard the players’ well being. For example, sliding is prohibited as is physical contact.
“I basically stopped playing at age 55 because it hurt so bad,” Kilgus said. “I’ve played since a child, played Little League all the way to high school. I played in communities up north. I moved here at 64 and found these guys and am able to play. With real bad arthritis in my knee, I’m a non-runner status. I pinch hit and somebody runs for me. Very important, I’m still active and doing things.”
The players have built lasting friendships.
“Camaraderie with everybody is the best part,” Kilgus said. “It’s a big friendly group. We all got softball in common and we’ve got guys from all backgrounds.”
Everyone is welcome to watch the games and be part of a community group that also does charity fundraisers. The field is located at 1216 Wren Circle and a schedule is posted on the Barefoot Bay Senior Softball Facebook page.