Retreads prove you’re never too old to love to play ball

Back in the 1990s, I played on an older-than-30 baseball league in Charlottesville. I’d played in high school and for a brief time in college, and I was amazed by how much I still loved the game and wanted to compete.

I was a pitcher — a hard-throwing right-hander with a decent curve — but I had always struggled with control. When I was on, usually in the warmer months, I could get into a groove and pitch well. But when it was cold, or when my frustration would get the better of me, I tended to lose focus. But I tried to overcome that when I played for the Tigers — trying to prove something to myself, I guess — and I worked hard at it. So hard, in fact, that I broke my arm in half.

Everyone gets older. But not everyone gets old. That was the take-away last week when I spent some time with the Charlottesville Retreads, a senior softball team that has been practicing and playing at Darden Towe Park since 2003.

At 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from March until mid-October, when they practice and scrimmage, you’ll find ministers, doctors, professors, tradespersons, educators, businesspeople and ex-athletes, both male and female, who have said goodbye to the players they might have been in their youth, but not to a game they love.

“I’ve played all my life,” said Larry Stremikis, 74, one of the original founders and current manager of the Retreads. “Even though you are getting up in years, you have to stay active, and you want to have fun, too. And I love the camaraderie it enhances.” Read More


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