Young at Heart
Over-60 softball team still competing, having fun
Summer is always busy for baseball and softball teams. Some weekends, they never leave the field.
For the A&A Wrecking softball team, it’s no different – except that those weekends seem a little longer.
A&A is a softball team made up exclusively of players over the age of 60. They’re one of many around the state and the region, joining their counterparts in a weekly senior league and in the local tournament circuit.
After a weekend like this past one, when A&A competed in the Ocean State Classic at Warwick’s City Park and ended up playing six games plus their regular league contest, they feel it.
“We don’t get out of bed Monday morning,” joked A&A second baseman Paul Danesi.
But the aching muscles are worth it.
The softball is still good.
“We’re a little slower, but the fire still burns,” said player/manager Manny Costa.
The current A&A team, sponsored by the Johnston company, was put together this year as an over-60 team. The league they play in is 50 and up, but they stick with the 60 threshold so that they can compete in senior tournaments.
In general, the senior softball league is like a new life in softball.
“We all played ball when we were in our 20’s,” Danesi said. “At 30, some guys drop off. At 40, a lot of guys drop off. Because there’s an over-50 league, guys that had stopped maybe in their mid-40’s have a chance to come back as rookies.”
And those rookies are still going.
A&A is in second place in its league. At the Ocean State tournament, the team finished third.
The roster features a lineup of players with diverse backgrounds, from firefighters to a school superintendent. Some are retired, some still working.
The common denominator is softball.
“Everyone has been playing between 30 and 40 years of softball,” said Danesi, who is the Vice President for Operations at Bishop Hendricken. “We’ve all done it since we were young.”
Many have deep athletic roots. Ken Sheehan was a star baseball player at Providence College. Al Mello was an All-State baseball player at the high school level.
“Most everybody played high-school ball,” Costa said. “Everybody kind of gravitated to softball. It’s a faster game.”
Though it’s a little slower now, the passion is still there.
“This game keeps me psychologically young, and I think, physically, it helps me stay younger,” Danesi said. “A pitcher throws a round ball that’s moving. We have to hit it with a round bat. Once we hit it, we have to run the bases. To me, that’s athletic, that’s competing, that’s staying young. The day I put the baseball bat and pick up the golf club, with a ball that’s sitting on a tee, with a club that’s perfectly flat, that’s when I’ll know when I’m old.”
The realities creep in from time to time – pulled muscles on the basepaths and pinch-runners at the ready. But the important thing is being out there.
“We take the competition seriously,” Danesi said. “After the game, we’ll pull up the chairs and the coolers come out. When the game’s over, no one leaves. We sit around for an hour. We just like each other’s company.”
The Ocean State tournament was the second of the year for A&A. They’ll play another close to home before taking a trip to Florida in November.
Next summer, they’re hoping to be back together again. The oldest players on the team are 64 so they’ll have the option to move up to a 65-and-older team next year. Some new 60-year-olds could join the fold as well.
Regardless, they’ll keep playing.
“I was a Providence fire fighter for 48 years,” Costa said. “In my profession, I’ve lost so many guys who were classmates of mine. Every day on this side of God’s green grass is a plus.”
When that grass is on a softball field, life is even better.