Softball team for over-55 set has won 2 state titles PASADENA


June 04, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

Danny Sider, the 69-year-old owner of a Fort Smallwood Road tavern, knows the secret of youth: softball.

"It keeps you young," said Mr. Sider, a catcher with the state's champion 55-year-old-and-over men's softball team, and its coach and sponsor. "You wanna see guys running and playing ball at that age -- you wouldn't believe it."

Part of the Anne Arundel County Senior Softball Association, which fields eight 55-and-over teams, Mr. Sider's team, Danny's, was recognized last week by Gov. William Donald Schaefer for winning two straight championships at the Maryland Senior Olympics.

Mr. Sider and another player-coach, Jean "Frenchy" LeTan, who helped organize the 55-and-over league three years ago, have put together a defensive team that includes at least seven former professional baseball players, including two who hit in the majors. Teammates Barry Shetrone, 54, and Freddy Valentine, 58, each had turns with the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Senators.

The rest are former amateur baseball and fast-pitch softball jocks who no longer move as fast as they used to but who never grew too old for the game.

"We've all got our aches and pains, but we don't let it get us down," said Danny's teammate George Stephens, 57, a former fast-pitch All-Armed Services second baseman.

Mr. LeTan, who was a minor league baseball player for the St. Louis Browns, which eventually became the Baltimore Orioles, had always scoffed at slow-pitch softball. But, as he slowed down with age, he said he reached an understanding with the game.

"Slow-pitch was made for old guys like us," said Mr. LeTan, 60. Besides, he added, "It's better than sitting at home and watching the grass grow."

Danny's game schedule leaves little time for that with double-headers twice a week at the Old Mill Recreation Center and three national tournaments this summer. As state champs, Danny's is one of two Maryland teams heading to Baton Rouge, La., June 12 to compete in the National Senior Olympics.

They also hope to compete in September in the Senior Softball World Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz., and, later in that month, in the Seniors Softball World Series in Houston. To get there, they must play in a national-qualifying tournament like the one sponsored July 14 through 18 by the Department of Parks and Recreation at Randazzo Softball Park in Severn.

"We're real active," said Mr. Sider, who played with the Brooklyn Dodgers for four days in 1941. "We don't just want to lay down and crawl."

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