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50–over Men’s Softball League seeks players

The players are scattered throughout the playing field as 67-year-old Herm Zornes makes a pitch and 62-year-old Dave Swartzwelder connects with his familiar left-handed swing.

Sunday, July 15, 2001

The players are scattered throughout the playing field as 67-year-old Herm Zornes makes a pitch and 62-year-old Dave Swartzwelder connects with his familiar left-handed swing.

Jerry Murphy, 53, camps under the ball and makes the catch and makes a return throw to the infield as Dave Frazer cuts off the throw. Frazer, playing at first base, is only a "rookie" at age 50.

This is a real Senior League, complete with softballs, bats, gloves, and Golden Buckeye Cards.

The idea of forming a senior circuit for 50-and-over men’s softball belongs to Zornes who plays in Florida during the winter months. Zornes, who played on the league championship team in Florida, wants to see a similar league develop in Ironton.

"It’s big down there. Of course, you have a lot of people who have retired and moved there," said Zornes. "And you’ve got guys who were pro players. It’s something to watch some of those 70-year-old players."

Because there hasn’t been a league for older players, many of the men have left their gloves on a shelf for a lot of years.

"I haven’t played since ’94," said Swartzwelder.

Don Dewitz, a 62-year-old city of Ironton employee, wanted to play again one way or the other.

"I started back in the church league this year, so I thought this would be fun," said Dewitz.

One of the oldest players on the team is Floyd Wilson, now 72. Wilson played in a senior baseball league until five years ago.

"I had a hip replaced and had to quit baseball," Wilson said.

The seniors practice Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the McComas Fields on Delaware St. Zornes is planning to get a game next week with a church league team.

"We’re gaining a few. It’s hard to get guys who are still working to come out on a hot evening," said Zornes. "If we can get quite a few more, we can form a league and play more games."

Ray Zornes said getting enough players would give the league an option of putting a team in a state seniors tournament.

"If we could get enough guys, we could put together a good team," said Ray Zornes.

Other seniors who have practiced or showed an interest are Gary Leach, Wayne Price, Thurman Kaiser, RonnyClark, Joe Dillon, Demon Clark, Jeff Dillow, Rick McKnight, and Denny Hankins.

Chesapeake has a group of about 30 seniors who meet on Mondays to play. Herm Zornes and Wilson both play in the league.

"You pay $40 to cover the field rental, hats, and shirts," said Herm Zornes.

Generating more games would make the league even more attractive.

"I start in October and play to May, that’s why I’d like to play here. I still play church league, but in Florida you play two games a day and 10 to 12 a week," said Herm Zornes.

Anyone interested in playing should contact Herm Zornes at 740-354-9770.

"Some guys say, ‘I’m 50. I can’t play.’ But we’re all in the same boat," said Herm Zornes.