Over 50, but not over baseball
Program keeps lovers of game on diamonds
Intensity levels rivaled those on the major league level, but the tempo of play was just a bit slower during a recent mid-July over-50 baseball game at Brent Mayne Field in Englewood.
“Our players range from early 50s to over 65. They play with intensity but no one runs or throws as fast as they did when they were younger,” said Blues manager Art Kendrick, whose team had just duked it out with the Grey Sox. “I think most of the guys in the league are like me and are out here because they love to play baseball.”
There are 14 teams in the league, divided into the National and American divisions. Games are scheduled on the weekends at facilities around the metro area.
Mark Danuser, commissioner of Colorado Over 50 Baseball, said the league is an independent organization. The teams play a regular schedule and then have the option to travel out of state to a postseason tournament.
“Our league remains about the same size (year after year), but we are looking to grow,” he said. “Our league is open to anyone who wants to play, so we invite all those 50 and older to join us.”
Kendrick explained that the league uses regular baseball rules, with a few exceptions. He said while players can slide, no one is allowed to steal a base, and collisions between a runner and a defender are prohibited. He said everyone in uniform is required to take part in the game and play at least two innings on defense.
“There is also no limit on having another player go in to run for a player who gets a hit,” the Littleton resident said. “We want it to be about having fun playing the game of baseball, so we do what we can to avoid getting someone hurt.”
Like most of the teams in the league, the players on the Blues roster live all over the metro area. For example, pitcher Jeff Martinez lives in Greeley, while catcher Frank Harman lives in Centennial.
Martinez, who pitched the first seven-inning game of the twin bill, said that in his prime he could throw his fastball between 85 and 89 mph. He said he still throws hard, but his speed has dropped into the low 70s and upper 60s.
Players usually spend a couple hundred dollars a season on equipment, uniforms and fees, and those who travel for postseason tournaments pay all of their own expenses.
Kendrick said that, like most of the guys in the league, he has been playing baseball for a lot of years. He began playing adult baseball in 1990 in Phoenix.
“I joined the league in the Denver area about 16 years ago,” he said. “Anyone is welcome to play in our league. A guy who wants to play just has to be able to get along with a bunch of guys who are over 50, but think they are still teenagers.”
Blues veteran Andre Price said he began his love affair with baseball when he was 6.
“I lived across the street from a park when I was growing up and went over there and started playing baseball,” the 53-year-old Parker resident said. “I guess I have been at it ever since. I am still playing, of course, because I love playing baseball. But I also am still playing because I really enjoy the camaraderie we have on the team. We are all friends and the socialization extends to events where all our families get together.”
Blues teammate Frank Harman caught the first game of the doubleheader, and said he has been playing ball for almost 50 years. He was a kid when he first started catching, and said he was lucky because former Negro League player Matt Matthews showed him the ropes of the position. Harman then played six years in the minor leagues before joining the Air Force.
“I love the game and it is still a lot of fun to get out here and play,” the Centennial resident said. “I enjoy the game but I also like being here with my teammates. This is a great bunch of guys and friends.”
A list of teams, schedules and information about the league is available at www.coloradoover50baseball.org.