Senior softball teams head to World Series Senior Olympics are next

September 18, 1992|By John Harris III | John Harris III,Staff Writer

The leaves slowly are turning into their rich fall colors, football season is in full swing, and the Orioles are in the middle of the pennant chase.

So naturally, the local young men of summer, those hearty, athletic souls of the county's Senior Softball League, are about to hang up their gloves and wait out the fall season to get ready for the winter basketball season. Right?

Not quite. The Orioles might want to take notes on conditioning for a stretch run from these guys.

After competing in two or three games a week since May, two Pasadena-based squads -- Betty and Jake's and Wooden Nickel -- are prepping for the 50-and-over Senior World Series championships in Wayne County, Mich., Monday through Sept. 27.

In addition to the Senior World Series (55-and-over), Danny's (the World Series qualifying-round champions) and Spindlers will participate in next month's State 55-and-over Senior Olympics at Towson State University.

Betty and Jake's, managed by Tony Campagna, took first during its mid-May qualifying tournament, while Danny's took second place, enough to qualify for the World Series championships.

"I'll tell you what, in my opinion Danny's 55 and Betty and Jake's 50 are the best teams in the country in their age bracket," said George Kelch, a longtime senior league player and manager with Spindlers.

Betty and Jake's have used their booming bats to compile an overall record of 87-1, including the county's 50-and-over league crown and the mid-May World Series qualifier in Annandale, Va.

Leading sluggers include Jimmy Price (21 homers), Rob Kidd (20) and John Powell (19).

After disbanding at the end of last season, Wooden Nickel put together a team consisting of Anne Arundel residents and an assortment of Washington area players -- some from as far away as Springfield, Va.

Obviously this new blend of talent worked, as it finished second in last month's World Series qualifier in Penn Hills, Pa.

"A lot of us used to play for a Montgomery County team called the Mayflower Legends, but when we heard that Wooden Nickel had broken up, we decided to come over to this league and play for them," said manager-pitcher Gary Fitzgerald, 52, of Greenbelt.

"The level of competition here in Anne Arundel County is much better than the league we were playing in in Fairfax [Va.]."

Wooden Nickel had all of the competition it could handle in its qualifier, as it compiled a 8-2 record in the three-day event (Aug. 28-30).

After losing its first and only game on Friday, Wooden Nickel went on to win eight straight games on its way to the championship finals, where it met old nemesis Pittsburgh Gold.

"After playing in nine games in three days, not to mention about 100 during the season, we wanted to hurry up and go home. I had pitched every single game up to the championship," said Fitzgerald. "I don't know what kept us going. I guess it was adrenalin."

Wooden Nickel fell short of the title in a 6-4 decision.

"They're [Pittsburgh] a bunch of good guys. We've always gone back and forth in our series. They just happened to win it that time," Fitzgerald added.

Top hitters for the runner-ups included Tim Nulte (.710), Fitzgerald (.680), Tom Canning (.670), Cronin Byrd (.640) and John Cullen (.625). Joe Moyer, the team's top power hitter, saw his numbers fall offensively but toted a handy mitt at third base.

"It's great to see the guys who play at this age are still serious about playing. It used to be at [age 40] they'd put you out to pasture. It's not that way anymore," said Fitzgerald.

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