Choose what’s best for you
Happy Holidays! We wish everyone safe travel and germ-free times with family and friends.
Wow! The past few weeks have seen a flurry of phone calls, emails and texts about summer softball. With two leagues now available, players must choose one or the other for 2023 since both plan to play on the same weekdays. To that end, we hope you will find the following information helpful.
Factors to consider include location, teammates, field quality, park amenities and the level of play — the latter being more applicable to those of us with a fair number of candles on our birthday cakes.
Locations: The Michiana Senior Softball League (MSS) will play again at Byers Complex on Mayflower Road for 2023. Play was moved there a year ago when indications arose that Mishawaka had plans to repurpose Normain and Henry Frank parks.
The Mid-America Senior Softball League (the new league) will play at Normain Park in Mishawaka for 2023, and possibly at Henry Frank (other city plans have been suspended, at least for summer 2023)
Level of Play: The Michiana Senior Softball League offers two divisions. (You can play in one or both based on your age as of your 2023 birthday.
The 62+ Division (aka “seniors”) offers an age-appropriate level of play by tweaking a few rules to keep things enjoyable — a nice way of saying it’s for those of us whose reflexes aren’t what they used to be <wink>). Any bat permitted.
The 52+ Division (aka “juniors”) is for those looking for more competitive play. Bats are based on a player’s age (single wall, double wall or composite).
The Mid-America Senior Softball League announced plans for one division for 2023. It will be 52+ in general while allowing some players at age 50.
Amenities: This perhaps is more important to some than others. Byers is a dedicated softball complex with tournament-caliber fields, plenty of parking, shaded bleachers for spectatators, restrooms with running water and a concession stand. Normain presents a family atmosphere typical of most city parks … decent fields, plenty of space for pets and swing sets for the grandkids. For more information, here are some websites.
How can we help?
If you have questions, ideas or rule suggestions, let us hear from you! If you have questions about the new Mid-America League, we will be happy to get you in touch with one of their representatives. We were friends last year and we hope that continues.
We hope that everyone stays safe and healthy for the snowy months ahead.
Steve Sporinksy, senior commissioner, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Witkowski, senior commissioner, email@example.com
Ken Bradford, lead league commissioner, firstname.lastname@example.org
How about more umpires?
Yes, it would. But it likely won’t happen during the regular season this year.
Here’s a question that came up. It’s impossible for even the best umpires to get a clear view of the home run fences 250 feet from home plate. Wouldn’t it be better to have a second umpire who could watch the fences as well as trapped balls in the outfield and close plays at second base?
It’s hard to find umpires for the six games we play each Tuesday and Thursday at Byers. And, at this point, we couldn’t afford them anyway.
The Byers Complex pays our umpires $30 per game. Last season, we had 12 teams playing a 25-game schedule. Our goal is to have the same number this season. The math figures out to 150 games needing an extra umpire, so the additional cost would be $4,500 a year.
If this becomes a priority, we could handle it with two actions. First, we could find additional sponsors and donors to bring in that extra $4,500. Second, we could find players who would get training so they could serve as base umpires. A senior player might help umpire a junior game, and a junior player might umpire a senior game.
Dinner with 49 friends
Straightening out our finances is a major priority this summer. Once we get our steady on our feet, we can start looking at improvements like this.
The Francis Club is inviting our league to a spaghetti dinner on Friday, Jan. 20, at the Knights of Columbus lodge, 61533 S. Ironwood Road, South Bend.
It’s part of the club’s mission to help raise money for local groups. Dinners 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 can 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.
This is the first in an attempt to bring fundraising and fellowship into our off-season. If you want to reserve seats, contact email@example.com. This is a ticketed event.
Bob Torok says the spaghetti sauce is a special recipe and is the best in the area. Bob is well-known for his truthfulness. Please come enjoy the evening with your friends and teammates.
How is it looking now?
This isn’t a normal off-season for our league. We’re busier than usual, positioning ourselves for the long-term future by formalizing our structure. That means having a transparent system where every member will know our budgeting, our bylaws and our rules. This will pay off ultimately in that we will be able seek donations and grants as a registered nonprofit organization.
In the shorter term, we have some opportunities for league members to step up.
In past years, our league would replace about 10 players, one manager and one team sponsor. This year, in part because of the creation of the Mid-American Senior Softball League, our challenge will be to do more than that.
Our goal is to have six teams again in both divisions in 2023. We’ll know better after our January manager meetings, but the preliminary expectations are these:
SPONSORS: We are expecting to replace two in each division. The sponsors we don’t expect to return are TAG and Access in the juniors and Christman and AIM in the seniors.
MANAGERS: It’s likely we’ll be replacing two in the juniors – with managers from Palmer and TAG not returning. In the seniors, we will be replacing one, for the former AIM team. Update: Jerry Aufrance says he’ll appoint a manager for Holy Smokes when he is absent.
PLAYERS: We won’t have headcounts until after our manager meetings, but we expect four of our junior teams to return almost completely intact. We’ll need to replace about half the players in the other two. On the senior side, it’s likely we’ll need to replace half or more of one team as well as two or three players on a few of the others.
It isn’t that hard to replace sponsors. The fee is relatively low at $400 per season. If you have a connection with a business or club that wants to support us, let us know. Otherwise, we’ll start knocking on doors in February.
It shouldn’t be hard to replace managers, either. At the league level, we just need someone to represent each team when we’re discussing rosters and rules. At the team level, most teams settle into a routine where the fielding spots and batting orders are close to the same for every game. If you’ve been on one of the teams that needs a manager, please consider stepping up. We can appoint someone else from another team, but if you like the vibe you have, it’s best to keep it within the team’s hands.
As for players, the early estimate is that we’ll need about two dozen if we want to continue with 12 teams. We have some strategies to help reach folks who haven’t heard of our league. The best method, though, is for those of us already on teams to spread the word to friends and neighbors. Keep in mind that our age divisions have some flexibility. If your friend isn’t age 62 yet but has mobility issues and hasn’t played softball for decades, we can give him or her a trial run in the senior division. That is part of the point of the April practice/tryout. One of our league’s goals is to make sure there’s a spot for anyone who can safely play. Let us know how we can help.