Softball season ended in late July.
It’s rather interesting that we actually ended when the season was supposed to end, considering all of the rain we got. A one-day-per-week league turned into several weeks with two games. That was something we had tried to avoid when switching leagues to the Over-35 league.
The old man league, that is.
It’s a crazy thought to look back in time and think about my first few years of playing softball. We were mainly filled with high school kids, rarely ever won, and just had fun. Take the time machine forward 26 or 27 years and here we are.
Now, we expect to win. Sure, we don’t win every single game, but for the past four seasons – spanning two leagues – we have ended the season with championships. It is always fun to win on the field, and when we overcome as many things as we have done the past few years, it makes it even more fun.
The league was a little different this year. A couple of teams dropped, but one dropped late and messed up the scheduling. So our division was three teams and it got a tad old at times. I think the other teams would agree. Yet, the combination of the two divisions wouldn’t have made it that much better – if better at all.
Still, things worked out OK.
But the one thing about softball is there is usually a pretty wide range of ages on a team. When you go into the Over-35 league, you have to bid farewell to the “youngsters,” and that doesn’t make it easy. So this year, we played several games with fewer than 10 players. In fact, we played one game with seven (though we found a way to win that game – maybe because we are uber awesome! Ha!) and that just isn’t fun. When you are worrying about having to play that short or forfeit, then you have to start looking things over.
In 25-plus years of running a team, I’ve never had a forfeit on the field. I don’t even think I’ve ever been in a situation where we forfeited ahead of time because of a lack of players. I always said that if I ever had to forfeit a game, I’d be done playing.
We came close this year.
In the end, we won the championship. We swept the 2-out-of-3 series, winning by two runs and one run. The second game, we scored one in the top of the seventh and then held on in the bottom half of the inning – as the other team stranded the tying run at third base.
The games were fun, intense, and some pretty good softball.
With the season over, though, I’m not sure where that leaves me. The past few seasons, I’ve felt pretty good. I’ve hit really well and this year, despite my knees barking at me every other morning, I went back to catching. Though, to be fair, it’s a no-bunt, no-steal league, which means I don’t have to attempt to throw somebody out at second – especially with my rag arm.
The end of the season also makes you look back, reflect, and think about what one wants to do in the future. Do I want to keep playing? I’m not sure. I truly enjoy the aspect of playing the game. But the other facets – running a team, worrying about players, dedicating time to other aspects – it’s hard.
I still remember a few summers when I was younger and playing in three leagues as well as tournaments almost every weekend. There were some summers I came close to 100 games played.
That’s not true anymore.
Instead, I like going to baseball games more. Or I like just coming home from work and not having anything to worry about.
This decision isn’t easy.
I’d like to know the direction the league is going. Is it expanding? Will there be some rule changes to make it easier to have a complete team (ie: allow 2 or 3 players aged, say, 32 and up, to play) or garner interest from a few new teams. Or will we just be merging with the other division, thus making it so we might win a few games by forfeit or by lopsided scores? I’m not sure I want to do that, to be honest.
For a large part of my life, softball has been a mainstay in the summer. I’ve had a good run and have enjoyed every step. And though the game is great, it’s changed over the years. Between the lines, it’s the same. Outside of them? Much different. People do many other things now and it’s not as popular as it once was – at least near me.
So over this winter, I will look at the big picture. I’ll talk to guys on the team. I’ll get a feel for how things look with the league. And then I’ll make my decision.
In the end, I’ve had the fortune of playing softball with a lot of great players and teams. We’ve won championships and had fun along the way. It’s been a great sport for me and there will come a time when it’s time to say goodbye.
I’m just not sure if it’s sooner or later.