Sports

They haven't lost a step

T en years ago, Bill Maxson read a newspaper announcement about a senior softball team starting up in Bremerton.

The then-67-year-old promptly marched on down to the first meeting, expecting a bunch of excited old men — only to find two women with one baseball bat and a ball.

“That’s how it started,” he said.

visibility. It is what Evans calls a “restricted flight kind of ball.” There also is a no sliding rule.

The players don’t mind. They are smiles all around.

“They are just die-hard enthusiasts,” Evans said. “They even ask me if we can come out here Wednesday and play. Sometimes I just like to come out here and hear the laughing and the ribbing.”

Evans has nominated five regulars into coordinator positions. Because the team is drop-in, when Evans isn’t around there are still five other people that can explain the rules and liability agreements.

Both Lewis Bruser and Silverdale resident Jack Siegrist are among coordinators. Siegrist just likes hanging with all the guys on the field.

“You get a lot of exercise and you get a lot of sunshine,” he said.

Each player signs a release and pays a $5 user fee through the Bremerton Senior Center to participate. Even though the normal season lasts from March to August, Bruser, a 74-year-old second baseman from Bremerton, said they kept meeting last year until the first week of December.

Now Maxson, a Tahuya resident, is part of the Bremerton Senior Softball team, a mostly men’s contingent that meets Tuesday and Friday mornings at 9 for six months out of the year at Lion’s Field.

“It’s great,” Maxson said. “The guys all enjoy it a lot. They don’t take things too seriously.”

The team slowly grew from five members the first year to the current stock of over 20.

To choose teams, they draw red and blue chips out of a bag. Maxson is the blue team’s captain.

When Maxson stepped up to the plate at a recent practice, he was ushered by a spatter of yelling.

“Just stay relaxed Bill,” the third base coach yelled.

“The pitcher’s a wild one,” the shortstop spat.

Even at three-quarters of a century in age, Maxson is still able to yank off a grounder deep in the the pocket between shortstop and third.

One of the most vocal players in the field is John Gardner. At 65, Gardner is also one of the younger players on the team. He lives in East Bremerton and has played with the group for about eight years.

“You may have heard me out there yelling a few times,” he said. “We rib each other. That’s just part of the game. Every Tuesday and Friday we just have a ball.”

If the umpire calls a ball that looks close to the strike zone, Gardner is the first one to pipe up.

“That was a strike,” he yelled. When asked about why he chides the ump, Gardner says he has to.

Donn Joseph, 71, from Poulsbo, has a unique perspective on the softball team.

“I enjoy the competition and the camaraderie. It also gives my wife a break.”

Joseph jokes that the softball league was actually a conspiracy by a bunch of local wives to get their husbands out of the house so they could have some peace and quiet.

He’s fine with that. Ever since he moved from Redmond a couple years ago to his Kitsap home, he has been a happy member of the team.

“You need a stress reliever,” he said.

The group usually plays for two hours at a time, and they have actually started hosting the Bainbridge Island team, which started last year.

According to Scott Evans, the recreation program coordinator for the Bremerton Parks and Recreation Department, safety is the top priority for the group of seniors he supervises.

To help prevent collisions, an extra home plate has been added, so that base runners can tromp through without coming close to the catcher. To make an out, the catcher just needs to tap on the actual home plate before the base runner hits their plate.

Additionally, a bright yellow ball is used for

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