Originally Published: May 3, 2005 5 a.m.
PRESCOTT Most of the men (and four women) who are involved with Prescott Senior Softball have been hitting home runs and sliding into home for many years, and now, in their later years in life, they are still playing the game as competitively and energetically as they ever did.
"To participate in something you were doing as a kid at the age of 80 is a blessing," said 81-year old Rocky Annecchini.
He currently plays softball three or four times a week, and said, "I've been in sports all my life and I'll probably die on the ball field."
Larry Richey, commissioner of Prescott Senior Softball, said it started 15 years ago, and many of the players have been playing ever since.
Carrol Clark, 78, said he started playing in 1990 because "I had to have something to do. It's a good deal for exercise and companionship."
He played third base until he hurt his knee, he then became a pitcher.
"I feel like I'm 50, but I know that I can't do all the things I did when I was 50," Clark said.
Richey said there are two leagues in Prescott Senior Softball: League A (ages 50 to 65) and League B (65 years and up). Both leagues are very competitive, he said, but "League A plays the game as it is supposed to be played and League B is very recreational, but competitive within their capability."
The League B players have special rules, Richey said, such as they are not allowed to slide, and if the batter is tired, "he can have someone else run for him to avoid any injuries."
However, "Within that context, they're still very competitive and they still play to win."
Players from both league's join competitive teams that travel all over the country to play against other teams in their age category. Richey said all age groups have come in first at recent competitions.
No matter whether they are playing to compete or to simply have fun, the game of softball keeps these seniors active and healthy.
"When I was a kid, when you were 65, you wore slippers and sat in front of the TV," Richey said. "There's a lot of physical activity, which is obviously healthy. You come out here and watch these guys and they're running their butts off and catching fly balls. These guys hit the ball and run like crazy."
Sam Ferlazzo, 68, has been playing senior softball for the past 12 years, and said, "I used to play all the time. I just love the people and the game itself. It's the American sport."
When Jim Jocham, 76, was in the service, he said he often played fastball. Now, he plays softball and tennis twice a week, and works out at the Wellness Center three times a week.
"I'm pretty active for an old guy," he said.
Jocham said he loves the game of softball because "I just enjoy being with the guys. Softball is fun, but it's all about being around the guys."
Anyone interested in learning more about Prescott Senior Softball can visit www.prescottseniorsoftball.com or watch them play every Monday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.