10 comments May 31st, 2007at 06:54pm Posted by Eli
I guess I have another good 40-50 years left…
The year Mickey Werner was born, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their first game at Ebbets Field and the “Curse of the Bambino” referred to Babe Ruth’s fondness for four-letter words – not the Red Sox’s dry spell.
Almost a century later, Werner still loves the game so much he laces up his cleats every week and heads for the pitcher’s mound.
“They don’t care how old the pitcher is, as long as they get the bat on the ball,” said Werner, 93, of Baldwin, L.I. “You’re never too old.”
The sprightly retired New York City physical education teacher is the oldest player in the Long Island Senior Softball League’s 68-and-older division.
And he throws a mean pitch.
Yesterday, Werner’s team, the Mets, bested youngblood pitcher Paul Rotter, 85, of the Dodgers in a 9-6 win at Baldwin Park in Baldwin Harbor.
“He throws the ball as good as me, maybe better,” said Rotter, a retired teacher for the deaf from Woodmere, L.I., who goes by the nickname The Kid.
[T]he league is bigger than ever, with 106 players this year, the most in its two-decade history, according to league Commissioner Joe Friedman.
Every Monday and Wednesday at 9:45 a.m., four teams tuck their graying – or bald – heads under blue baseball caps featuring the name of their sponsor, the Bristal Assisted Living Communities. They pull out their weathered gloves and line up for a pair of friendly doubleheaders.
All the while, the wisecracks fly faster than a popup to right field.
“All our cheerleaders are in wheelchairs,” said Joe Carillo, 76, a retired Nassau County police officer who plays first base.
“[Werner's] last team was ‘Shea Funeral Home,’” teased Bassey. “They gave him back. They had to wait too long.”
The genuine camaraderie brings more than a hearty laugh.
“Not only do I have fun, it’s good for me,” Rotter said, his thick fingers twined into the chain-link fence behind home plate. “It’s part of the reason I’m still alive.”
Awesome. I really do hope I’m still playing (or at least breathing) into my 80s or 90s, but I’ll take what I can get.