Two area leagues offer softball opportunities for men and women over thirty.
Skill level and most recent playing experience are not detriments to participation.
In Groveland, Dirt the Skirt Sports Corporation (name came from the movie, “A League of Their Own”) is in its second season. “We offer women over thirty the chance for some fun and exercise playing softball,” said league president Christine Higgins.
“I was an athlete in school,” said Christine, a Boston attorney, “but life had sort of gotten in the way for the last 10-15 years of continuing in sports. So I decided to organize a softball league.”
The overwhelming response to the women’s league has been a surprise. “Last year we had 100 members and this year we’re anticipating over 150 members,” said league VP Jen Miller-True. “Many women have been looking for this type of league for some time and we’re the first to provide it.”
On the other hand, the Over-30 Men’s Softball League in Ipswich is well established. “This is our 38th season,” said league secretary Peter Rockett.
The origins of organized, over-30 softball for men in Ipswich had little to do with softball or exercise. “A group of guys in Ipswich, back in the ‘70s, were looking for a way to raise money for scholarships for seniors at Ipswich High School,” Peter explained. “The idea of organizing for that purpose, around softball for over-30 men, was suggested and then begun. No one else anywhere was doing anything like this.”
The women’s league uses fields in Groveland. The league is open to players from anywhere. Games are on weekends from May-August and there are practices during the week.
The Ipswich men’s league uses fields in that town. Players must be from Ipswich or a surrounding town or work in Ipswich. Games are once a week. “The only time we get together is for doubleheaders on Sundays,” explained Peter. “Not having practices appeals to some players’ time schedules but the possibility of getting a muscle strain or worse is a real one especially early in the season.”
A common theme with both leagues is the attempt by management to keep the teams balanced. The Ipswich league, with four teams of sixteen players each, has a complete redrafting of players every two years in an attempt to keep teams even. The Dirt the Skirt League, with seven teams and possibly three more, has tryouts to evaluate players before attempting to place them on teams.
One certainty with both softball leagues is the variance in skill levels. Some players come with resumes while others, as Christine, who played softball at Revere High School, puts it, “don’t know which hand to put the glove on. We work hard to accommodate all skill levels.”
Another variable is age. “The age goes up to about sixty so far in our league,” said Jen, who was co-captain of Triton’s softball team for two years. “I still hope that I can be playing when I’m in my 50s and 60s.”
Any discussion of age with the Ipswich Over-30 league turns to Joey Rosenberger, listed on the league’s website as the League Historian/Director. “Joey goes back to the beginning of the league,” said Peter, who joined in 1995. “He’s in his mid-70s and still plays two games each Sunday at second base. He’s in great shape and loves playing and being with his friends.”
Christine said, “Our motto is: Haven’t played in ten, twenty, or thirty years? Neither have we. Come out and join us and have some fun.”
(This story appeared in The Town Common on March 23, 2010.)