“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever” is a quote often attributed to Walt Disney.
To fulfill one of those dreams of defying Father Time, the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks offers an over-60 slow-pitch softball league. Dozens of players who are trying to rekindle their youth and can still hit, catch, throw and run are reliving a childhood pastime of playing softball with their friends.
The over-60 men’s softball league is entering its 30th season and currently has six teams. They play Tuesday night doubleheaders at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie. Before the season, the coaches of the league hold a tryout to evaluate new players, and everyone is graded on a scale of one to three. Then the coaches draft players so the league is fair and everyone gets playing time.
“Our philosophy is to have fun, have great camaraderie, but still have competitive games,” said league commissioner Mike West.
The league also boasts of having three players in their upper 80s who still play every year. One of those players is Dick Baker, who recently turned 88. Baker has been playing softball since 1970.
“I look forward to playing every year,” Baker said. “Once we get to late March, I say, ‘Let’s go play.’”
To stay in shape for the season, Baker will go to the gym three times a week to work on his upper body strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Baker was once a speedy high school outfielder in Pennsylvania and had hopes of being scouted by the major leagues. But the Korean War interfered with those plans, and he served his country for three years. When he came back, he tried out for Maryland semi-professional baseball teams, but the travel was too overwhelming for a new husband.
Baker’s speed has been reduced by Father Time and one knee replacement surgery, yet he remains dedicated to the sport.
“I’ll get the other knee replaced in October, but I wanted to play this season,” Baker said.
Baker, as well as the other players who are 88, Ken Kline and Al Hunter, enjoy being around the “younger guys” and enjoy the banter of the dugout.
After the games, the players continue their revelry at local bars that sponsor the teams. Last year, sponsors included Severna Park Taphouse, Sideline Sports Bar & Grill, Glory Days Grill and Pappas Restaurant & Sports Bar in Glen Burnie. Heroes Pub in Annapolis, Port Tack Wine Ltd. Wine & Spirits in Arnold and KDF Screenprinting & Embroidery in Landover also sponsored teams.
The league is always searching for new players. Baker said as long as he can swing a bat, he’ll keep stepping up to the plate.
“It keeps me young, and I have a lot of fun with my teammates and everyone in the league,” Baker said.