Take Back The Game

I’ve played softball since I was 19 years old; I’m still playing at 57 in a C-D level co-ed recreation league.

It's time to make slow-pitch softball safer.

As the athletic supervisor for Gloucester Parks, Recreation and Tourism in Virginia, I have also set up many leagues. I absolutely love the game. After all this time, I’m curious as to why such a great sport has turned into a homerun derby and a dangerous one at that.

The game (at least for mid-level players and teams) used to be beautiful, with a few legitimate “power hitters.” The rest of the team tried to get hits or go the opposite way with a runner on first–many strategies came into play.

Now, during a men’s league game, everybody plays for the three-run homerun, and nobody is thinking strategy. Guys who were never homerun hitters are now blasting them at a very high rate with their $365 double-wall, composite super bats.

Protection For Self-Preservation

Last summer, I ventured into the men’s league for a few games and was surprised to see a few changes–the pitching rubber is back to 53 feet, the bases at 70 feet and many guys I know who are good pitchers won’t play the position.

One pitcher was wearing a mask and shin guards for self-preservation.

When the third baseman and first baseman were playing in the outfield to be safe, I realized that strategy was gone from the game, and players were constantly worried about getting hurt.

I myself had second thoughts about going out there to pitch. I’m still a good pitcher in our Sunday co-ed rec league. I had survived 39 years of playing without getting decapitated, but I said I would catch.

Never Enough

In talking with crossover players–those who previously used the pure single-wall bat and now swing the super bat–each player said it was much more fun in the “old days.” One guy who averaged only two homeruns during a season said he now hits about 27 a year.

So, my question is, why did we ruin a good thing? The bats were good enough. Just because technology allows for increased speed and power, is that better? Is it safe?

Steroids increase muscle mass and make a person stronger. Is that better?

We allowed the bat companies to take over the sport. They dictate the game. Everybody buys $365 bats now that will be obsolete in two years. When do we take back the game?

Field players shouldn't need to wear masks.

Create A New League

As a result, slow-pitch softball is on a rapid decline. Our most popular league is the parks and recreation co-ed league. Guess what? Composite and multi-wall bats are not permitted–only pure single-wall bats are allowed.

Men’s leagues are going to have to take a stand. Players are not going to voluntarily use a single-wall bat when others are using a super bat. It is like the use of steroids in baseball. If an opponent or a teammate you’re competing with for playing time is getting bigger and stronger, you might likely follow suit to remain competitive–even if it means your long-term health will suffer.

Many serious injuries and even deaths have been attributed to the new-age bats.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Code of Conduct
  2. Saving The Environment
  3. Take A Stand
  4. We Have Ignition
  5. DreamCatcher Park
  • Columns
  • Departments