Tremont team making alternate reservations

Age-group bump sends national champs packing

Softball

December 26, 2003|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN STAFF

The streak is over for Tremont Hotel, winner of five consecutive national softball tournaments in the 75-and-up group.

Tremont's geezers aren't checking out, they're just moving to an older bracket.

Welcome to the 80s.

The club's string is extraordinary: In 14 months, Baltimore-based Tremont has captured every slo-pitch tournament it entered. In 2002, it won its last two national tournaments. Last August, Tremont won the Senior Softball World Series, in Des Moines, Iowa. In October, it triumphed at the Las Vegas World Masters Championship, then rolled at the Senior Softball World Championships in Mobile, Ala.

But the club is breaking up. Six players are graduating to the 80-and-over class - the oldest in senior softball - to form the core of another Tremont team. The rest will continue playing in the 75s under a new name, Moe's Raiders, sponsored by veteran pitcher Moe Foglio, of Manassas, Va.

"It's been a great run," said Joe Tilelli, who managed and played third base after having triple bypass surgery in April. "These guys all picked each other up; they played as a team.

"For instance, our outfielders knew they had to hit the cutoff man. When you're 70 something, you're not going to throw it all the way home, though a lot of guys still have it in their minds to try."

Tilelli, of Sayreville, N.J., will pilot Moe's Raiders next year. Geographic rules are relaxed for softball's old-timers, who can play for any team in their region.

Those advancing to Tremont's 80-plus club include all three Marylanders from this year's championship team: shortstop Al Lavender of Potomac; first baseman Barney Fineblum of Woodbine; and pitcher/sponsor Bill Smith, a Washington-area developer whose family owns the Tremont Plaza.

There's time enough to launch another national juggernaut, said Lavender: "Our goal is to go four-for-four in tournaments [next year].

"Our games will probably be less sophisticated, and a little slower. Guys won't hit as far, or run as fast. But [80-year-old] fielders don't throw as hard, either, so everything balances out.

"Everybody's in the same boat," Lavender said. "At this age, we're kind of running on fumes."

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