They might be the over-the-hill gang, but players 50- and 60-years-plus participating in slow pitch softball are a competitive and fun-loving bunch.
Nine senior teams from around the state gathered at Rumsey Park for a tournament over the weekend and the tempo of play didn't show much of a dropoff from recreational leagues involving players much younger.
For the most part, the seniors battled one another as if the World Series title was on the line.
After watching a Phoenix senior slap a base hit to left field and sprint to first base just about as quick as any player 30 years younger could, a teen-ager watching the game said, "Wow, for a dinosaur, he can run."
The kid wouldn't admit it, but I believe the player was his grandfather.
The players were there mostly to win, but there was plenty of merriment, especially on the Payson Grays, where Jack Koon and Dan Prock lightened up the proceedings with their humor.
The rear of Koon's baseball hat is fitted with a foot-long braided pony tail that had fans believing he actually owned that much hair.
Prock tells a great story about his first-ever senior game several years ago when, after the Star Spangled Banner was played, there was a moment of silence and reading of the names of aging senior players on the opposing team who had died earlier that week. The event, he said, gave him second thoughts about admitting he was old enough to play senior ball.
Plenty of firepower
Just how good is high school track and field competition?
For an answer, look no further than the results of the Chandler Rotary Invitational held two weeks ago.
Several members of the Longhorn squad competed and were able to set personal and school records but didn't medal as a top-six finisher.
With Arizona's best 5A teams and squads from Texas and Colorado on hand, the times and distances were astonishing.
Stephanie Robertson, Payson's national-class heptathlete, long jumped 16 feet, 6 inches but was only fourth. The winning jump was 17 feet.
In the high jump, Robertson cleared 5 foot, 4 inches and was third. The winning jump was 5 feet, 5 inches.
Teammate Rheanna Martinez triple-jumped 34 feet, 10 1/2 inches and was fifth. The winning mark was 36 feet, 2 inches.
It's not often that Martinez and Robertson garner anything but golds and silvers.
Parents, don't forget to register your son or daughter early for the Flee Diamond Skills competition to be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) on the Rumsey 2 field. Registration is free and may be completed at the town's parks and recreation offices located at Green Valley Park. Boys and girls ages 7 to 14 are eligible to participate. Age is determined as of July 17, 1999.
The youngsters compete in base running, hitting and throwing. The winners of each age/sex group advance to regional competition later this spring.
Regional winners who advance to state-level competition compete in the Bank One Ball Park in Phoenix prior to an Arizona Diamondbacks game.