This is some Major League fun.
The eager players of the Knoxville Senior Co-Ed Softball League aren’t on the field for prizes or glory, although some bragging rights are attached.
The non-competitive slow-pitch league starts play on April 3 and plays through October. Games take place from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Caswell Park, 570 Winona St., off Woodbine Avenue. Cost for the season is $10 per person for city accident insurance.
A few dozen people play consistently, and then there are dozens of others who show up to the occasional game. They are worked into the regular teams when needed or make up their own team. At least five people were a part of every single game last year.
Play is open to men ages 60 and up and women ages 55 and up. A lot of players are in their 70s, and one gentleman is still actively playing in his late 80s. The make-up of the club is about 80 to 90 percent men, and they’d welcome more women.
Linda Godden and her husband, Josh, have been playing with the club since 2009, and she’s been playing co-ed softball for 40 years.
“I have no trouble playing with the men,” she says. “I’ve always competed with whoever, whenever. We have folks at all levels of ability, and it’s all for fun and exercise.”
For those – men and women – with less experience, it’s okay to show up knowing not much more than “which end of the bat to swing,” says Knoxvillian John Bohstedt, who has been playing with the league for about five years.
Usually other players will go out of their way to help or coach those who need it, and everyone is always mindful of everyone else’s safety. There’s no tagging and no collision, no strikeouts, and everyone bats each inning. (Four innings are usually played.)
“Everybody’s encouraging everybody else,” says Bohstedt. “On your own team and the opposite team.”
Alan Cheatham is one of the leaders of the league and manages the group’s Facebook page. He says the friendships he’s formed are the best part of his 10 years of play.
He also loves falling in love with the game again.
“At 67 years old I have an outlet to play a sport I grew up loving and playing,” Cheatham says. He doesn’t foresee ever coming off the field. “I have grown slower and hit with less power than I did a decade ago. Still make a few memorable catches in the outfield—I smile all the way home after making one!”
For more information, visit Knox Senior Co-Ed Softball on Facebook, or visit the link from the city’s page at http://knoxvilletn.gov/cms/one.aspx?pageId=1369530.