By Cody Straub –
As spring comes closer, that means one thing – baseball season will be here soon.
School-age kids have been waiting all winter to play baseball again, going to the batting cages or throwing inside whenever they can, to make sure they can have successful season.
Well more people than just the kids, and the professionals have been training for baseball over the winter.
What about the oldsters? That’s right, the drive to play America’s favorite game doesn’t go away when players hit their 50s, their 60s, would you believe their 70s!
Penn Manor resident Fred Funk is one such Penn Manor veteran ball player. To help others stay in the game, Funk started teams for 50, 60, and 70-year-old people who have a love for the game and who wanted the chance to keep playing the game.
“The whole idea is to have fun without getting hurt,” Funk said. “But,” he added, “don’t think it’s not competitive.”
The players go down to Florida in March for a week of “spring training,” to get ready for their 22-game season, along with playoffs. The season even includes an all-star game or, as Funk said with a laugh, an “old star” game to raise money for charity.
The three leagues start at various times this summer with the 50-and 60-year-old league games starting the first week of April and the 70-year-old league starts the first week of March.
“They don’t like cold bats,” said Funk of the 70-year-old group.
According to Funk, the leagues play doubleheader games on Saturdays and practice Mondays and Wednesdays.
The 50-and 60-year-old leagues play by modified softball rules, while the over 70 is a slow pitch softball style, Funk said.
The 60-year-old league has been around for 20 years but the 50-and 70-year-old leagues are new this year. Funk said he decid
ed to start the new leagues because of the number of people that approached him about playing who were under the age of 60, and not eligible to play.
One of those people was Steve Moore, a Penn Manor alum, who even had knee surgery to prepare himself for his first season.
Tragically, Moore died this year before he had a chance to play.
To find people who could be interested in playing in the league, Funk spent the day in Penn Manor’s high school library looking through old yearbooks at find former baseball players. He said of the people that he contacted so far, most of them were “maybe’s ” to play in the league.
No matter what age, the leagues will see a lot of exercise, effort and exhilaration.