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Chewing Gum and Pounding Your Mitt Makes You Feel like a Kid Again

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Chewing Gum and Pounding Your Mitt Makes You Feel like a Kid Again

August 28
15:46 2017

After decades of absence from a baseball diamond, I was a man in his 60s playing softball against other seniors — many in their 70s and 80s — and I was doing relatively well at it.

They called me “the kid.”

OK, I’ll admit, I was aware that my performance initially was not stellar. There was a period of missing the ball completely when I was at bat. And, for a time, I merely waved at the ball as it went past, or let it bounce through my legs, when I was in the field. I was wearing sneakers, instead of baseball cleats, for heaven’s sake, so I didn’t even make the proper softball sounds as I ran — it could have been jogging, or often just walking — around the infield.

But, I was playing again, readjusting my hat with confidence and slapping the inside of my glove with authority between pitches. I felt as though skills remained, somewhere in my 66-year-old body.

Apparently, I have no sense of shame, nor semblance of pride, remaining in the twilight of my life. All it takes is a dribbling grounder up the middle to make me happy. The disconcerting thing about this thought process is that I am not embarrassed by my behavior. In fact, I was grinning like a ninny most of the time, quite excited to know I was playing a game that I had thought I had left behind.

Health reasons

Ironically, health and not ego was the reason I decided to play softball again at my age. I had read somewhere that keeping active is the key in our elder years, for both mental and physical health.

I figured that completing Sudoku puzzles and coming up with Cryptoquip solutions, and solving crossword puzzles, when paired with watching “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” on weekday nights, would supply a balanced diet of brain food that was nutritious for any senior. For physical activity, I chose to supplement my routine of making the sounds my father made while getting out of bed in the morning with a schedule of regular morning exercise and daily walks.

Then I added the softball, and immediately identified health benefits from the athletic endeavor. In fact, I think playing softball has helped get me back into the best shape I’ve been since I was in my 20s or 30s, which is the age I thought I was when I ran to try to catch a foul ball and pulled my hamstring on the first day I played softball.

Just having fun

So, we’ve determined from that muscle straining experience — and such others as letting a ground ball bounce up and hit me in the chin — that softball is good for your health if it doesn’t kill you.

But, even more important, softball as a senior is good for your spirit.

It’s amazing how confident an old guy can feel — whether he deserves to feel that way or not — if he just puts on a pair of those high athletic socks, sticks batting gloves in his back pocket, finds his old softball mitt in the basement, bends the brim of his new “Senior Softball League” hat, and shouts such things as “two down out there” and “force at second.”

If you chew gum and scrape the infield dirt with your softball cleats it’s almost as if you were a kid again.

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