Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Once A Jock, Always A Jock"


"Once A Jock, Always A Jock"

I've said it before; here in Sun City there are more than a thousand clubs for our 40,000 senior residents.  Their listings take up half of our monthly community newspaper.  You can Ballroom dance, Swing dance, join the Texas Two-Steppers and the Line Dancers, or you can attend the weekly Singles dances if you're of a mind to cruise for chicks.

We have pottery clubs, poetry clubs, painting clubs, both PC and Apple Clubs, Democratic Clubs, Tea Party Clubs and also little ladies who meet for tea and crumpets, served in delicate porcelain.   We have clubs that represent the various states of origin as well as the "codger" version of the Daughters of The American Revolution.  Pick an interest and there's a club for you.

In sports we have both indoor bowling and lawn bowling, and tennis and swimming and golf and pickle ball and hiking clubs, jogging clubs and yoga clubs and weight lifting clubs. 

But, perhaps the club with the most eager participants are the senior softball leagues.  Every year, just about the time the pro clubs arrive for Cactus League Spring Training, a group of elderly men begin to congregate around the Mountain View Fitness Center softball field.  They range in age from 55 to 85....and they take their game seriously....with as much enthusiasm as a ten year old kid on a Little League field.  And after the season is over, if they're good enough, they go somewhere and play other old Orlando, or Palm Springs...or other realms where old men still compete, and sometimes they bring home their championship trophies.

These old guys form up teams and begin league play just about when the regular baseball season begins.  The only difference between them and your average neighborhood softball team is that these guys wear a lot more knee pads and elbow pads...and there's a strong scent of Ben Gay and Tiger Balm emanating from the softball field.  The old boys still go "deep in the hole" for that hard grounder, and they throw caution to the wind as they attempt to fire a bullet to first.  The fleet of foot "65 year olds" patrol the outfield...and if you observe from a distance you don't see the wrinkles and frown lines from 7 or 8 decades of living.


There's a track that runs around the outside of the ball park.  I often go there and walk that track, my iPod Mini cranking out 60's hits in my ears.  As I round the turn and head toward the playing field, I often get a look from one or two of the players...a look as lustful as a Sun City widow, wondering why in hell I'm wasting all that effort without a glove or a bat in my hand.  

Sometimes, when I'm done with my walk, I'll take a seat in the bleachers and watch part of the game. What the old boys don't know is that they are too damn good for me.  These guys are serious, and they still have all of the moves they had at 20...they just move a little slower than before.  But the natural instincts are still there...they still know just, at the crack of the bat, when to start falling back for the long fly ball.  They still have the timing down when at the plate.  I've even had to interrupt my walks a few times and retrieve a ball that came sailing over the fence, the hitter slowly trotting around the bases, head modestly bowed, as if home runs are as normal as a 20 year old's morning bowel movement.

I guess the moral of all this is "don't ever sell an old person short".  Whether it's batting a pickle ball around at 6:30 in the morning, or running out a grounder to second on the softball field, no one around here seems ready for a rocking chair just yet.


Frank Krzesowiak said...

I can remember my Grandfather back in the early 60's at 68 years of age looking old, feeble and frail. I'm 68 and if you look at my pic, there's no comparison. I guess a hard life can age you big time or are we just aging slower nowadays?

A Modest Scribler said...

Yep. Some people age faster than others. And of course there's an effect from a hard life as well. These old ball players have probably been playing all their life so they were probably jocks to begin with so they are ahead of the game, and ahead of their non-playing peers.