As the weather warms up and flowers start to bloom, Americans of every skill level start preparing for the next baseball and softball seasons, including some of Anne Arundel County’s senior citizens.
The Anne Arundel Senior Softball Association (AASSA), in its 27th year, provides people age 60 and over with the opportunity to compete in softball games against seniors of various ages and skill levels. There’s also a 50 and over league for younger players.
“Everybody’s welcome as long as they’re age-eligible and can still move around a little bit and play,” said league president Mike Christ. “We like to think it helps keep us young.”
To make games safer, players can slide only into second and third bases, and games use two home plates spaced apart to avoid collisions. Teams also make use of courtesy runners for players with limited mobility.
To keep the teams even, the league holds practices at the beginning of the season to divide players into three skill level groups. The players are then drafted into one of the league’s six teams. The draft is repeated every year, so players can expect to play on a different team each year. After the teams are set, they decide practice schedules individually.
Friendships form naturally between players.
“It’s just a general you meet somebody and become a teammate,” Christ said. “There’s this thing about sports that brings people together.”
Even outside of practice and games, sometimes multiple teams will hold events to socialize.
“Some of the teams will get together, maybe sponsored by a local eatery or a bar,” said Christ. “Players will get together after a game, congregate, talk about how good they did or how terrible.”
The league holds a year-end banquet where players are awarded trophies. The league also has a hall of fame that players can be inducted into.
The league’s structure helps foster relationships as well.
“Because we have a draft league that everyone changes teams every year, pretty much after a while you know everyone in the league,” said Christ. “It’s like a large family.”
Some players in the league have played together for decades.
“This past fall, four of these players we inducted have played together probably since their 20s, been on teams with each other, been on teams against each other,” Christ said. “Their wives know each other. Their kids know each other. That’s just through softball. And they all come from different walks of life.”
According to Christ, the hardest part of running a senior league like the AASSA is finding enough people who can play.
“The main thing is finding enough healthy players who know about us,” said Christ. “We always seem to encounter people who are able and willing to play but just didn’t know we existed.”
The 2020 senior softball season is expected to begin on April 24. To inquire about joining, contact league commissioner Mike West at 410-271-2446.