Temperatures climbing into the mid-80s couldn't stop senior coed softball players from taking the diamond Thursday, July 10 at the Park on the Lid, as the Mercer Island Rockers took on Bellevue. While the heat was coming off Bellevue's bats early on, the Rockers came from behind in the game's final innings to beat Bellevue, 14-11.
The Rockers improved its regular season record to 7-1, good for second place in the Puget Sound Senior Coed League. It was the Rockers' second-straight comeback win, after scoring nine runs in the last two innings of its matchup with Kent earlier in the week to prevail 13-9.
"They say this is a rec league, but it's rec league only because of skill level," said Rockers coach Alan Anderson after the game. "It's extremely competitive. Even the teams that aren't very good, when they play each other, they might be in their 70s or early 80s and injured, but they're just as competitive as 20-year-olds out there. They just can't get to first base as fast," he quipped.
What the players can't do physically, they make up in effort and enthusiasm. Rockers starting pitcher and former coach, 73-year-old John Weinberg, said he's been pitching softball for the past fifty years, beginning at the University of Chicago when he was going to law school.
"Down in Midway near the University, there are some ballfields where we played pick-up games on Sunday mornings," said Weinberg. "I loved it. Then we moved to Seattle and I found a team. This is maybe my third team and my first co-ed team in Seattle since we've been here. Altogether, [I've played] every season for fifty years. Just love playing. Until I can't do it anymore, I'm going to be doing it. Maybe after that for awhile, too."
On the mound for Bellevue was 91-year-old starting pitcher George Goldsberry, pitching the game's opening innings before being relieved. Goldsberry said he's played softball for ten years with Bellevue's coed team and 25 years altogether, including stints with Kirkland and Mercer Island. He said he'll play "as long as they let me play."
"It's a good way to spend some time, if I can contribute a little bit or contribute enough to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, I'd just bag it. But so far, I get a few hits and pitch a few innings. And it is recreation, so there's not a demand for a lot of excellence," he said with a chuckle.
Anderson said players come from all over the place, from beginners to more seasoned players. Before its team disbanded, Kirkland boasted a former professional female player.
"She was one of the consultants on the movie, "A League of Their Own", and she played in that league," said Anderson. "She's in her late 80s now, but she can still hit those line drives."
And Anderson points out, the league is always recruiting new talent, aged 50 or older.
"My goal is to have two teams [on the Island]. Anybody that wants to come out, check us out, we'd love to have them," he said, mentioning he was recruited after stumbling upon the league while walking through the park. "We've put up flyers. Our great third base lady was in a bridge tournament with John and we recruited her. There's no one way to get people, but we'd love to have another team."
The Rockers take the field at 10 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at Aubrey Davis Park. For more information, contact Ryan Daly at 206-275-7863 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rockers starting pitcher and former coach John Weinberg has delivered softball pitches for 50 years (photo by Joseph Livarchik).
Bellevue’s George Goldsberry steps up to the plate against Mercer Island (photo by Joseph Livarchik).
Debbie Wilkening rounds for home as Terry Graham waits on deck (photo by Joseph Livarchik).