Ted Smith won a bronze medal in the softball throw at last year's Maryland Senior Olympics, but just throwing the ball wasn't enough for him.
The Joppatowne retiree decided he wanted to play the game, sohe rounded up a dozen others from Harford County to form the Joppatowne Geriatrics, as Smith has dubbed the team.
Friday the team will play for a medal in the softball team finalsat the 12th annual Maryland Senior Olympics at Towson State University. The double-elimination competition continues on Saturday.
To reach the finals in the 55-64 age category, the Joppatowne Geriatrics survived a qualifying tournament in August. Eight teams played for four spots in this weekend's finals. The Geriatrics earned a spot by winning three of four games they played.
"You'd think we were a bunch of kids -- jumping up and down, especially after the way we won thefirst two games," said Ken Hartman, who played professional baseballfor the Philadelphia Athletics in the early 1950s.
In their firsttwo qualifying games, the Geriatrics were up by one run going into the final inning. Both times the opposition loaded the bases. Left-fielder Bill Nehila threw out a runner at home to end the threat in the first game. The infield turned a double play to preserve the second win.
In the finals, the Geriatrics will compete against teams from Bowie, Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County. Although Smith doesn't know much about the opposition, he said, the Anne Arundel County team, called Danny's, may be a ringer.
"I'm sure that team from Anne Arundel County would have to be the favorite. They've got younger guys. They're all 55 or 56 and they're an all-star team. Rules like not being able to slide and being able to overrun bases certainly makethings easier, but the age factor is still there."
Regardless of how they finish, the Geriatrics are out to have a good time.
"We've had a lot of fun so far," said Smith, whose squad is sponsored by the Joppatowne Recreation Council. "There are a few aches and pains. You try not to overdo it, but you forget sometimes. You try to do whatyou did 30 years ago. You pick up the ball, and you forget that the guy running the bases is as slow as you are."
Like Smith, who is retired from the Baltimore County School system and now coaches volleyball and tennis at Joppatowne High School, many of the Geriatrics have played on local softball teams for years.
The Geriatrics includetwo former professional baseball players, Hartman, of Joppatowne, and Mike Alexander, of Bel Air. Their top hitter right now is Ray Hruz,of Joppatowne.
Other members of the team are Bob Eikenburg, Dave Gilbert and Bill O'Connor, of Bel Air; Cleve Huber, of Jarrettsville;Bob Melhorn, of Baldwin; Bill Nehila, of Abingdon; Larry Simmons, ofFallston; Dick Stone, of Aberdeen; Al Salkowski, of Kingsville; and George Micholite, of Joppatowne.
Smith would like to see the Geriatrics stay together for a few years. If they can win a medal at the 1992 Maryland Senior Olympics, the Geriatrics would qualify for the national Senior Olympics in Baton Rouge, La., in 1993.
"It would be neat to qualify for nationals," said Smith. "You meet an awful lot ofreal nice people at the Senior Olympics, and I imagine you'd meet a lot more at the national games. I like to be competitive, but it's great to be with such a neat group of people, people who are interestedin life."
SENIOR OLYMPICS SET FOR OCT. 10-12
The 12th Annual Maryland Senior Olympics will run Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 10-12, at Towson State University and nearby venues.
The torch run from Annapolis to Towson State will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Havre de Grace resident Virgil Mills will take part in the run, to culminatein the lighting of the torch at Towson State immediately following the 36-mile run.
Thursday's competition will feature golf for the men at the Mount Pleasant course and for the women at the Longview course.
Saturday morning a full slate of events will begin with the discus throw at the soccer field near the Towson Center, the softball tournament at the Towson Center field and tenpin bowling at the Towson Fair Lanes.
The two days of senior sporting events will feature competition in archery, badminton, basketball, billiards, bowling, golf, horseshoes, racquetball, table tennis, tennis, track and field aswell as team basketball, softball and volleyball.
Medals are awarded in six age groups -- 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 74-79, 80-84, 85-89 and 90 and over.
For directions and spectator information call1-800-AGE-DIAL.