Month: January 2023

New season at Forever Learning

Play with us, learn with them

Have you heard about the Forever Learning Institute? FLI has been offering a wide range of classes for people in our age group for 45 years. It’s a chance to develop new interests and skills – from Hawaiian dance, to juggling, to speaking French, to understanding obscure Biblical prophets. Most classes are at the Little Flower parish center, 54191 Ironwood Road, South Bend.

We’re not exactly joining forces, but we’ve asked FLI to include information about us in their newsletter and course calendar. They serve ages 50 and older, so it’s possible that their students can become our ballplayers – and vice versa. We may need an influx of newcomers, especially in the senior division, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

As for FLI, the spring semester begins in March. Keep an eye on the website – foreverlearninginstitute.org – for class offerings, schedules and registration deadlines.

We all share the same mission – helping people find ways to stay active as they get older. If you have other ideas for outreach, please let us know.

Newsletter No. 7

Thinking about spaghetti?

Our first 2023 fundraiser is a spaghetti dinner Jan. 20 at the Francis Club at the Knights of Columbus lodge, 61533 S. Ironwood Road, South Bend.

Tickets are $14 apiece, with $4 going to our softball league. The menu includes spaghetti, salad, garlic bread and ice cream. The club has a cash bar for those who want wine, beer or other adult beverages.

The club has set aside 50 seats for our league members, from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Family members and friends are welcome.

If you want to reserve seats, contact kenbradford@comcast.net before Monday, Jan. 16. We’ll put your name on our reservation list, and you can pay at the door. Carry-outs are available for those who prefer to grab and go.

Issues for seniors

As we prepare for the January manager meetings, we’re looking at some policies related to the senior division. Some of these discussions are coming up now because, in past years, managers didn’t have much of a voice in how the division was run.

Mark Witkowski has two issues he would like to bring to the attention of players and managers.

Rosters: If a senior manager lists new players on his preliminary roster, the league commissioners will review those requested additions in light of overall team composition. One consideration will be whether all teams are able to field a reasonable number of players, that being approximately 14. A second consideration is to insure a fair and competitive balance between teams. If a player requests participation in the league without any team affiliation, the league commissioners may add them to any roster short of players. For newcomers to our league, the team assignment may be made after the April tryouts.

Bats: As far asthe senior division goes, any unaltered ASA, USSSA, NSA and ISA bats are legal. Miken Ultra II’s and similar bats meet this standard. If your bat exceeds 1.21 BPF, it will not be legal in Senior Softball.  A senior bat is any bat which complies with the 1.21 bpf standard.

Send comments to debmarkwit@comcast.net.

The junior division managers tend to change from year to year, but there is a proposal in place that the juniors follow the national standard. That rule gives players age 60 and older the right to use the higher-rated bats, which include composites. If you play in both divisions, the best advice would be to wait until after the January meetings before spending a lot of money on a bat.

Who’s in first?

It seems like a simple thing to keep track of wins and losses. But somehow, there always seems to be confusion about league standings at the end of every season.

We’re solving that problem this year, with the help of the Byers staff.

For their other summer leagues, the Byers crew has kept up-to-date records on a web site. Beginning this year, they’ll do it for us, too.

The site has a complicated address, but you can find it by searching for Byers Softball Complex – SBVPA, entering the Phil St. Clair Park site and clicking on Byers Softball Complex.

For now, because we’re in the off-season, most of the site is empty. But if you click on the Schedules/Standings tab, you’ll find the shell of last year’s South Bend summer leagues. Click on Summer Tues 2022, for example, and you’ll see options for Game Schedule, Player Stats, Team Stats and Standings.

Click on Standings, and you’ll see the Fire Breathing Llamas were 17-1, Imagineering was 14-4, SB Fire Local 362 was 9-3, etc. The standings also show runs scored and runs allowed.

We’re still refining what we’ll want to use on our page. We probably won’t want to run Player Stats or Team Stats. That could get really embarrassing.

But I’m guessing we’ll want a schedule page, a scores page and standings, and maybe home runs. My recommendation is that we post the rosters there. The way it could work is that you go to the standings page, click on any team name and the roster would pop up.

I think it will make us a better league if we know the names of our teammates and opponents. That’s especially true for people new to our league. When I was a rookie, I knew my teammates only as Woody, Coach, The Rev and Topper. We all knew Snookie but had no idea what his actual name was.

I would ask about someone and would be told, “He’s the short guy with white hair” or “the heavy guy who plays first base.” It didn’t narrow things down much.

We’re also hoping the Byers page will help us connect with potential players who don’t know that this league exists. We will have separate registration procedures and fee collections, but it will benefit them and us if we can trade inquiries back and forth.

By the way, the South Bend parks web site was posting an outdated statement that Byers was offering a senior league for ages 50 and older on Wednesdays. We’re getting that fixed.

We’ll be working with the Byers IT guy, Mike Sniadecki, on creating our page, probably as soon as we figure out our rosters in April. If you have ideas on what you would like to see there, please let me know.

The plan is to continue having newsletters throughout the season. Eventually, they’ll be less about league politics and more about cookouts, special events and roster additions. Eventually, we’ll be able to communicate about some league-wide votes we’ll have later in the summer. But, for now, it’s good to know that we won’t be wondering who’s in first place. You’ll be able to find out on our web page.

Send comments to kenbradford@comcast.net.

Out or safe?

John Walczewski, the Byers softball director, says there is a chronic shortage of slow-pitch umpires in our area.

Several of the guys in our league serve as umpires on other nights. They get $30 a game, which translates to about $30 an hour. If you work three games a night, once a week during a 14-week season, it adds up to over $1,000.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, let me know at kenbradford@comcast.net. If we get a group together, I’ll see if John can put together a training session for us.