Leading off for the Catonsville Seniors, Paul McGillicuddy takes a few practice swings, kicks the dirt and steps up to the plate. He scans the field and decides to drive the ball up the middle, figuring it would give him his best chance at getting on base.
He smacks the ball over the shortstop's head and into left field for a single.
Later he explains, "Every time I go up, I have a strategy of what I'll be doing."
McGillicuddy has been playing softball for a half-century. At 76, he's continuing that tradition by playing center field for the Catonsville Senior Center's team.
On a recent Monday, his team took on the Bowie Silver Seniors in a Baltimore Beltway Senior Softball League contest.
Though the Catonsville Seniors lost, 14-13, manager Ed Lowman said he was pleased that the team was able to claim an early 6-0 lead against one of the league's better teams.
"Errors lost the game for us," he said. "They got their share of hits, and we got our share, too, but when you make errors, your team usually loses."
The Catonsville Seniors play one or two games a week in a season that runs from April through mid-August. The team practices throughout the year.
Marie Dix, assistant director at the Catonsville Senior Center, said she often watches the team play through her office window.
"It's amazing," she said. "I mean, for 60-year-olds to be hitting the ball like that, and they hit it hard. I'm very impressed."
The men wear black hats with a yellow C, and yellow shirts with the team named spelled out in black lettering. Many players wear accessories, such as knee and leg braces.
"We all play through injuries," McGillicuddy said. "At this stage in life, things happen, and we help each other out."
The league has a rule allowing designated hitters and runners. One player who can hit the ball well into the outfield but has a man take over on first base to stay rested is pitcher Clarence Goodman. He says not having to run the bases is "one of the good things about being old."
Goodman, 64, of Arbutus, joined the Catonsville Seniors two years ago after retiring from his position as a parts clerk. He took over as pitcher earlier this season.
Agreeing with his teammates that the senior league play is more pleasure than pressure, Goodman is one of the most vocal players on the field. He encouraged his teammates with calls like, "Good play!" and "Let's get that run back!"
"The guys are great. Everybody's easygoing," Goodman said. "We don't take anything seriously. Everybody wants to win, but it's not do or die."