Adult softball is a little lax and a lot of fun. The fall season is under way for co-workers, friends, family and church members who come to the fields weekly for camaraderie and exercise.
The Sparkies, a team made up of members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, has players of various ages and levels of experience. Even though they work 10-hour days, the guys can’t wait to get to Winged Deer Park in the evenings to put on their red jerseys.
“We get out here and have a good time with our buddies, and we’re an even bigger family on the field,” said D.J. Lowery, a member of the Sparkies.
Coach Chris Lowery says the extra time on their feet is worth it, as long as they get some time to warm up.
“We’ll sleep better tonight playing as hard as we do,” he said. “We always do a really good stretch before we play because we work such long days.”
The Sparkies are one of 20 men’s open teams in the Johnson City Parks and Recreation’s fall leagues that also consist of co-ed open and co-ed church leagues. After suffering an 18-8 loss over Daramic, the Sparkies players were still smiling, especially D.J. and Chris. The two got into a bit of a traffic jam while trying to round the bases when D.J. knocked one toward the fence.
“We could have been the highest-scoring team, but other than that, it was awesome,” D.J. said with a smile.
The teammates say it’s a certain spirit that keeps things light. All the players are aware that it’s not a professional league and they always shake hands at the end of the game. Plus, there’s often a large, happy cheering section full of wives, children and grandchildren.
“My kids think it’s pretty fun to see ol’ dad play,” Chris said.
The Super Heros, another men’s open team and champions of the spring league, describe themselves as a “rag-tag group of post office workers and friends.” With no standard uniform, each player wears a T-shirt featuring a super hero of his choice. Third baseman Cody Weaver wears a black Superman shirt.
“We’re the group with no sponsor and the other teams feel sorry for us,” Weaver said with a laugh.
For the Super Heros, the league is a stress reliever, helps them stay in shape and provides a social outlet.
“It’s just fun,” Jimmy Dunn said. “We play to have the opportunity to be like kids again. There’s no pressure, we’re just having fun.”
There’s also a team of young Enterprise Rent-A-Car employees who have banded together to build some workplace camaraderie.
“It gives us the opportunity to hang out with people we work with and gives us something to talk about the next day,” team member Joel Hedges said.
Most of the men played baseball in high school and even college, so the first-year team is having to adjust to the softball style and rules. The league plays under a one-hour or seven-inning limit with a 15-run rule after four innings and 10 runs after five innings.
The large number of adult softball participants shows its popularity and many benefits. “It’s unhealthy not to have any fun,” Chris Lowery said. “It’s a hobby and good competition, plus everyone gets along. Coming home with a strawberry on your elbow is just part of it.”
The adult men’s open league plays Tuesdays and Thursdays through September at Winged Deer Park. Games begin at 7 p.m.