Newsletter No. 5

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New leaders for the seniors

Steve Sporinsky and Mark Witkowski have agreed to serve as interim commissioners for the senior division for the 2023 season.

Steve plays with Wesolowski  in the seniors and Palmer’s in the juniors. Mark plays with OC Hardware and Holy Smokes Pizza. Both are highly respected for their enthusiasm and good sportsmanship, and they are committed to making the division even better.

Their immediate goal is to get in touch with as many senior players as we can in advance of a January managers meeting. If players have suggestions that would help us, we want to hear them.

We call these positions “interim” because they are appointed, rather than elected. When we prepare for the 2024 season, we will make these elected positions, just as they are in the junior division.

We need to thank Steve and Mark for stepping up, and we hope for good times ahead.

Road trip to Crown Point

Bob Fonseca has a group of senior players who rent the Sparta Dome in Crown Point for softball practices on Wednesdays.

He says the group includes some guys in their 50s but the majority are 60-plus. It costs $20 to join plus $5 for any practices you attend. The practices go from noon to about 2:30 p.m., Central time. It’s about an 80-minute drive from South Bend to Crown Point, so it might be wise to set up a carpool.

If you want to join, call Bob at (219) 210-0120.

A single-wall for Christmas?

A lot of us do some bat shopping during the off-season. If this is part of your Christmas list, you might want to ask Santa for a gift certificate instead, especially if you’re still in your 50s.

Every January at the junior managers meeting, some discussion occurs about bats. It’s no fun having commissioners serve as bat police, but the goal usually is to make things simpler while keeping the games safe and fair.

Composite bats are legal for all batters in the senior division. Almost certainly, they’ll stay that way.

The main reason we bring it up now is that good bats are expensive. The wise thing for juniors to do is to wait until after the January meeting to plunk down money for a bat you may not be able to use.

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 – – for class offerings, schedules and registration deadlines.

We’ve sent a similar inquiry to Mishawaka’s Battell Community Center and hope we get the same response. 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.

Another look in the rulebook

In our fourth newsletter, we listed five rules that come from our league book. We’re including four more here.

In years past, our managers spent time at their winter meeting trying to rewrite our rulebook. Sometimes, the discussions would be about small issues that would apply to only one or two players, and we were trying to solve problems that could be handled with a simple discussion with the people involved.

Most of us learned about baseball by playing with neighborhood kids in a vacant lot or at a schoolyard diamond. We kept the game simple and resolved disputes among ourselves. The basic principle was this: Is the rule fair, and does it help us keep the game fun?

We should keep to that standard. No rule should favor one team or player over another. We’re here to have fun. Try not to argue. If you find yourself arguing, you’re missing the point.

Having said that, we need to have as few rules as possible. Most of what we need is in the national USA Softball handbook USA Softball – Features, Events, Results | Team USA or the USA Softball Indiana handbook USA Softball of Indiana ( In addition, the Byers Complex has rules Park Rules ( and Safe Equipment Rule (

In most cases, you don’t have to know all this. Play ball. Stay safe. Be kind.

The order of determination starts with the umpire, whose decision is paramount. He or she enforces, first, our league rules, then the park rules, then the state rules and finally the national rules.

Our managers will look at league rules again in January. We’ll keep them together on the web page archives.

ROSTERS AND PLAYER ELIGIBILITY: Teams are limited to 18 players on their permanent roster. If new players join the league after the season begins, they may be assigned to a waiting list and can serve as substitutes until a roster spot opens.

Players in the junior division must be age 52 or older during the calendar year. The senior division’s age minimum is 62. Exceptions can be made by the commissioners based on a player’s physical abilities.

NEW PLAYERS: Prior to every season, the commissioners will decide on a format for adding newcomers to teams. A primary goal is to achieve competitive parity among the teams. Depending on the talent pool, players may be assigned to teams based on tryouts, an open draft or other means.

Players typically will stay on the same teams from year to year. However, all players have the option of declaring themselves free agents after a season is completed, and they would re-enter the new player pool. The deadline for declaring free agency will be determined annually by the commissioners.

EXTRA INNINGS AND MERCY RULE: If a team is leading by 15 or more runs after five innings or by 10 runs or more after the sixth inning, the game is declared over. Unless the game is running late, the losing team has the option of taking its final at-bat before the rule is enforced.

If the game is tied at the end of seven innings, play will begin in the eighth and any subsequent innings with a runner placed on second base.

FEES: The commissioners, with consultation from the managers, will establish player fees annually. Managers are required to collect fees, by cash or check, and submit them to the league treasurer. Any player who has not submitted a fee payment by the end of the second league game will be declared ineligible until full payment is made.

Dinner isn’t quite ready yet

We’re looking at a possible spaghetti dinner fundraiser sometime in January. If the plans come off as they should, details should be available in the next newsletter.

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