In Over-40 softball, the fun is fierce

Highly competitive teams keep batting each other away

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While Red Hook Little League is celebrating its 50th anniversary, the age of its counterpart, the not-yet-senior softball league, isn’t at all clear.

Dave Wright, commissioner of Red Hook Over-40 Men’s Softball , knows the league is pretty old. “I mean, it’s been around since I was in high school,” Wright, 54, told the Observer.

Wright, who has been the commissioner for five years, said that the league has been through some changes in the past decade. The players now use league-provided aluminum bats after a composite bat craze swept through the league, turning mediocre hitters into Miguel Cabrera and talented players into Barry Bonds.

“There were guys hitting six home runs a game,” Wright recalled. “We started using wooden bats, but that became too expensive.”

The league, made up of six teams each with 15 players who must be at least 38 years old, operates via draft: managers pick players without any tryout process. According to Wright, players are reshuffled every year among the teams to maintain a competitive balance. The field is regulation softball size, using a pitcher’s mound 45 feet from home plate and bases with 45 foot base paths. While pitchers are advised not to use a fast-pitch windup, the league isn’t slow pitch.

Over-40 softball also keeps three trained umpires in its rotation.

“I think the umpire gives a sense of legitimacy,” said Wright.

Although Wright said that most players are in the league to have fun, he noted that the competition can get a little heavy.

“It’s just how these things work,” he said. “You’re always going to get some guys who want to participate and guys who want to win. But I think it’s pretty balanced.”

The league plays under the lights at the Red Hook Rec Park, and games are played from 8 to 10:30pm. Regular season games run from May 20 to Aug. 31, and the postseason runs from the end of August to Sept. 21. Each player is charged $40 to participate, as well as a $5 park maintenance fee. The participation fees keep the league running.

Approximately three quarters of the way through the 2013 season, the Holy Cow Ice Cream team, managed by Little League Junior All-Stars coach Russ Frehling, sits in first place, trailed by The Phantom Gardener team, managed by Bob MacFarlane. The other teams are: Mark Graminski Engineering, Village Pizza, Migliorelli Farms, and Deer Ridge Landscaping

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