A new team member joins the Softball West Magazine staff
By Softball West
Writing the Senior Call column is Pete D'Avignon, senior softball player and official. He began playing softball in Michigan when his ice hockey team joined a slow pitch league to keep in shape for hockey.
He joined the Chico Senior Softball Club served as team manager, club president and secretary. He became a part of the Northern California Senior Softball Association when he managed several travel teams. He runs several NCSSA tournaments in Oroville and Chico. Presently he is Director of Region 1 of the NCSSA and Secretary of NCSSA.
He has four adult children and seven grandchildren. His wife Vicki is his biggest fan and she accompanies him to tournaments and shares his softball responsibilities.
Senior Call – By Pete D'Avigonon – Thanks to Buster
Thanks to Buster Grimm for all the great information you provided us seniors in your monthly column. You got me started as a regular reader of Softball West Magazine. I looked forward to each issue for your ideas on starting and running senior softball teams and leagues. We wish you success in your future endeavors.
My column will build on Senior Softball Programs in the West and other areas as we find new and interesting items of interest to all Senior Ballplayers.
I started in senior softball in Chico, California in 1990. I was playing city league on a company team when I was introduced to the Chico Senior Softball League. At the time it was composed of six draft teams and many of the rules we play under today did not exist at that time. The league quickly expanded to twelve teams and soon after was re-organized into two age divisions. Now, Chico has fifteen teams with three age divisions. All divisions play a thirty-game schedule plus an end-of-season tournament. Just a short distance south the Yuba City Senior Softball League has eight teams and plays a twenty-plus game schedule.
There are too many Senior Softball Leagues in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada to list them all here, but all senior leagues pretty much follow the same rules and policies.
It has been interesting to be a part of the evolution of Senior Slowpitch Softball. Some very astute seniors and recreation directors formed the base to start Senior Softball. The very first senior team in Chico was formed by Mike Leitner, the Chico Area Recreation Dept. Sports Supervisor. He sent a letter to players over fifty years old inviting them to form a team to play in a senior tournament. That first year one team was formed and played in several tournaments. I am sure other leagues had similar starts.
Rule changes unique to Senior Softball began to be instituted almost as the first pitch was thrown. Run limits per inning, home run limits, base run-throughs, base overunning, large pitching mats, force plays at home plate, all-base force outs, and bat restrictions are just some of the rules designed to prevent injury, assure parity of players, and keep the game on a recreational level.
There is still a vibrant difference of opinion any time a league meets to review or change rules. It is usually the younger or more talented players who want the game to be more competitive debating the recreational player who would rather have rules that provide a more relaxed and entertaining game. These battles can get quite vocal. Both philosophies have carved a place in Senior Softball.
More and more venues are being provided Seniors at every level of competition. I am most familiar with the Northern California Senior Softball Association (NCSSA) and Senior Softball USA (SSUSA).
SSUSA was started in Sacramento and has grown to be the major organizer of senior softball tournaments in the United States and overseas but its softball roots are still in California and Reno. SSUSA hosts the largest senior softball event in Reno with a qualifier tournament for their major championship tournaments. In Northern California they host the California Cup in Roseville and new this year a qualifier tournament in Lincoln, CA. They have expanded their services to provide insurance for local leagues, tournaments and travel teams.
The NCSSA is comprised of one-hundred-ten travel senior teams from Fresno, CA, to Eureka, CA. There are teams from Oregon, Idaho and Reno-Sparks. The NCSSA membership elects five regional directors and ten alternates. The directors then elect the officers who manage the business of NCSSA. Main functions are to register the teams and monitor the rosters. The directors assign and approve the schedule of tournaments, of which there are now more than 45 each season. There is a website, www.ncssa.info where players can get information on schedules, team rankings, team rosters and lots of general news about senior softball.
There is also another organization in Sacramento known as the Tournament Players Association (TPA). These are senior teams that are members of NCSSA and coordinate TPA tournaments in the NCSSA schedule. TPA has been a viable organization for years and runs many events for senior softballers.
There are many Senior softball leagues, teams, tournaments, events and players to recognize. I hope that I can use this column to write about the many interesting things that happen in Senior Softball. I look forward to working with you. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.