Overland Park< KS (KSHB) — Softball is in full swing this summer!
With 95 teams in the metro, KC Senior Softball League is taking the sport by storm.
There are 19 conferences of men, women and coed teams.
“It keeps me active,” James Earl Jones, 73, said. “If I sit around at home, I’m probably going to melt or something.”
Jones, also known as JJ, is on the blue team, also known as ‘The James Gang.’
“They play me at third base a lot because my legs aren’t as good as they used to be but, my heart’s good,” he said.
Jones has had not one, but two heart transplants.
“We have players in this league that have replacement parts,” Jones said. “I mean shoulder surgeries, knees are abundant and hips.”
“Everyone’s gotta new hip or something,” Jones said with a laugh. “I just happen to be one with two hearts. It’s like a Frankenstein playground out here.”
But don’t let that fool you. These guys can hit. Older, wiser and great hitters.
“It’s so easy for someone in their 60s, 70s or 80s to go, ‘I’m done, I’m just going to sit back and chill and you know, rest,'” board member and softball player, Larry Hightower said. “The old expression is if you rest, you rust, so participating in something like this in my mind gives extra incentive to stay fit.”
Doug Wilson, who turned 85 this year, takes the expression to heart.
“Playing ball keeps me going,” Wilson said. “The old arm isn’t like it used to be. It gets pretty tired in the second game.”
Wilson’s been in the league since it started nearly 30 years ago.
While the rivalry is intense, the friendships are even stronger. One day, athletes will play against each other; the next day, they’re on the same team.
“The older we get, the fewer friends and relatives I have, so coming out here is like friends and relatives,” Jones said. “It’s important to have those friends, especially in the years we’re at. Older people need other people.”
Hightower says the league continues to grow. They expect to get 1,000 members by the end of this year.
For those interested in watching some of the athletes, on Saturday, July 20, there will be an all-star game.
It’s at Hartman Park in Lee’s Summit. Games start at 8 a.m.
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