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A Life Lesson As The Hour Glass Runs Low

Winter, 2020 – Carl Gustafson

This article was published on in Senior Softball magazine in Fall/Winter 2020.


by Carl Gustafson

I’m proud to be an old softball player in this Covid era.

We still play our tournaments, stay in shape, have lots of fun, and are running bases; while young people across the country are holed up in living rooms binging on Netflix, eating chips and dip, and complaining about politicians being the cause of all our woes.

I have memories over the years of playing in rain when young peoples’ teams took those days off. We will compete in 100 degree heat, sometimes playing five or even seven games in a day coming back through a loser’s bracket. Sometimes we play on bad fields, under poor lighting, with barely enough folks to field a team and nobody in the bleachers.

We hop, stop, shuffle, hobble, limp, gimp, teeter, totter, waddle, crawl, and fall on the way to home plate. We have so many injuries, pains, operations, stiff joints, missing cartilage, stents, bypasses, glasses, gasses, braces, grimacing faces, and wrapped places, that nobody even bothers to find a medical name for the ailments—because who cares, we are going to play anyway.

We have no chartered airplanes, chauffeurs, groupies, entourages, private trainers, expense accounts, or agents. We will drive long distances, stay in hotels, pay our own way, stay all day, just to get to play.

Why are we this way?

If you’re like me, you have people in seeming shock that those of us old folks in such a vulnerable demographic would defy logic and continue to play the game we love. That’s because they don’t see the sand left in the hour glass with an old person’s perspective.

Most of us in senior softball treasure every moment on the playing field; it keeps us out of the nursing home; it gives us exhilaration in an increasingly sedentary time of life; it provides a fun society where our feats are awarded and rewarded. We return from tournaments with pride.

John Paulette played and umpired until he was ninety-two. He told me that the key to staying in shape when you’re old is to never quit playing. He said an old body grows stiff and brittle very fast and once it dries out, it won’t recover.

We understand how priceless these moments in the sun are and how soon that sun is going to set. Almost 30% of my graduating class from high school is dead. Some of the remainder are house ridden or in nursing homes.

How many of your future nursing home years, just lying there taking pills and getting scolded while an aide wipes your rear end, would you trade for one year on the ball field?

Yeah, me too.

Carpe diem.

Carl Gustafson is an SSUSA Southern California Director and member of the SSUSA National Rules Committee.

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