The Back Office Associates 80s Travel Team recently competed in the Winter Nationals Tournament in Ft. Myers, FL. The team is comprised of players from the CCSSL.
The team played a round robin 7 games finishing 4 and 3. After losing the first 2 games: a 23-16 loss to a major Florida team and a loss to Pro Health from Wisconsin by a score of 17-16, they bounced back on Wed. by winning 3 games, beating an undefeated NY Statesmen team 9-4, then winning against Jimmys Legends from Minnesota and Center for Sight from Florida. The Team finished 1 & 1 on Thurs. losing to the Bucs and Bulls from Tampa by a score of 14-13 and then beating the Geezers from Chicago 15-7.
Nate Koppel and Mike Onnembo shared the pitching: while Rob Robidoux, Jim Parmalee and Hank Baldassarri provided the long ball power. The top hitters for average were Jim Lutes, Bob Blakeslee and Jack Deschamps. Anchoring the defense were infielders Jim VanBaalen, Ray Castellano, Vince VanNorman, Jack Ferrie and Bob Buck.
The team looks forward to their next tournament in February in Winter Haven, Florida.
The senior softball team sponsored by Back Office Associates and composed of 80+ year olds from the Cape Cod Senior Softball League concluded their participation in The Buckeye Classic on June 15th by playing three consecutive games in hot and humid Barberton, Ohio.
Back Office found itself in an ideal spot with record of 2 and 1 after coming from far behind the previous day to upset the favored Hamel's team from Virginia. Still trailing by 3 runs with 2 out in the top of the 7th inning, Back Office scored to tie the game which was then went into extra innings on a sensational catch and throw by Jack Ferrie in the bottom of the 7th. Back Office then exploded for 9 runs to beat the stunned Hamel's team who had lead at one point by 7 runs. The final score was 23 to 15. Back Office then defeated the Louisville Thunder handily, 18 to 7, to set up the trio of Thursday morning games, partially influenced by bad weather earlier in the week. The first of the three games was excellently played and could have gone either way but was won by the Peachtree team from Philadelphia by a score of 8 to 7, which was a huge let down for the Cape team. Having to move to an adjacent field and encountering a lengthy equipment delay (no pitching screen), Back Office lost to the local Akron Herald team 21 to 17 but finished off by defeating the Syracuse team, 11 to 10 finishing 3 and 3 for the tournament. Having to rush to get to their plane and with games still underway, the final placements were to be determined.
Leading hitters were Tom Daronco, Jim Lutes, Jim VanBaalen, Chris Sweeney, Jim Parmelee, Vin VanNorman and Hank Baldassarri. The infield of Van Norman, VanBaalen, Sweeney, Ferrie, Vin Scales and Gary Blodgett played very well and pitchers Nate Koppel and Mike Onnembo were very steady. Outfielders Rob Robidoux, Baldassarri, Parmelee, Daronco and Tony Bonina were outstanding.
The 75's completed play with a win, earning second place while the 80's Back Office Associates team took third place.
The 75's beat Nami Construction of New Jersey 17-8 to finish 5-1 for the tournament earning themselves the second place finish. Rob Robidoux, John Seliga, Bob Buck and Chas Crawford led the charge for the 75's the plate.
The 80s dropped their final game to Pfeiffer's of Wisconsin to finish at 3-2 for the tournament and taking third place. Leading the play throughout the tournament word Joe Graziozi, Nate Koppel and Jim Van Baalen.
Congratulations to both of our teams on their fine showing at this tournament.
Champion 80s Travel Team
A CCSSL travel team composed of our oldest, active players in their 80's and sponsored by Back Office Associates of Harwich, participated in the SSUSA Winter Nationals in Cape Coral, Florida, November 3 - 5, 2015. Spearheaded by outstanding hitting and excellent infield defense, the team swept through their division to capture the championship. Although having success in the local Cape Cod Classic over the last two years, this was the first road victory for this age group, most of whom have had previous experience on the Back Office 70 and 75 teams in tournaments across the nation. Their first attempt as an 80 travel team occurred in June in Akron, Ohio where they were a very close second. In spite of record setting heat in Florida, the Back Office team exhibited excellent stamina and conditioning belying their ages. The team was composed of: Jack Ferrie, Jim Parmelee, Vince Van Norman, Nate Koppel, Gary Blodgett, Mike Onnembo, Bill Page, Dan James, Mike Hanafee, John Sullivan, Tom Daronco, Guy Brigida, Tom Fazio and Ralph Becker. Fazio and Becker were roster replacements for Joe Graziosi, Frank Van Reit and Chet Grocki who were unable to participate. The manager was Bernie Powers.
Fran Dowell, Executive Director of SSUSA, presented the second-place trophy to the team immediately following the final game, quietly professing that BOA was her “favorite team.” She was probably saying that because BOA was likely the oldest team in the tournament with eight or nine players eligible in 2015 for the first BOA 80+ travel team. As Joe Castiglione says “Can you believe it?”
For the first time the Cape Cod Senior Softball League fielded a travel team to compete in the 80-year-old division. The team traveled to Akron, Ohio to compete in The Buckeye Classic. This team is sponsored by Back Office Associates who also sponsors the 75 travel team. The team roared through the first four games undefeated and were leading in the fifth inning of the fifth game when misfortune struck. Pitcher Nate Koppel, coming to the plate in the midst of a five-run inning, toppled over in a freak accident and fractured his wrist while landing on his pitching hand. He stepped on the discarded bat of the previous batter and was coaching the runner coming into score at the plate. Nate had pitched every inning and was a leading hitter along with Jim Parmelee. Unfortunately, the team’s backup pitcher, Dan James, had been injured the previous day when struck on the foot by a line drive during batting practice and was thus unavailable. As a result, players had to shift around and play some unfamiliar positions with shortstop Jim VanBaalen moving in to pitch. The eventual tournament champion, Pro Health from Wisconsin pushed across a run and won the game 16 to 15. The shorthanded Cape team then played their only weak game in the last scheduled event and were defeated 16 to 11 by Pfeiffer’s Automotive of Minnesota. This defeat caused the use of a complicated scoring device using run differential as the determining factor for the championship and Pro Health was declared the winner by a one run average over Back Office, which finished in second place. The overall team competed very well with Parmelee, Koppel, Vin VanNorman, Tom Daronco, Tony Bonina and Mike Hanafee the leading hitters. Jack Ferrie was outstanding in the field. Joe Graziosi, John Sullivan, Gary Blodgett, Jim VanBaalen, Hank Baldassarri and Dan James all contributed to the team’s first successful venture as one of the few 80 year-old teams in the country.
WAYLAND — Most of the players on the field were kids when “The Kid” was a rookie patrolling right field at Fenway Park in 1939.
Their athletic careers are in extra innings, but these old boys can still play.
“You get to be pretty cocky when you get to this age and you can still hit the ball and run a bit and just get out and play, that’s the bottom line,” says John Stewart, 82, organizer of the Eastern Massachusetts Senior Softball Association tournament, in which most of the players were 80 and older.
Frank Marcel, 78, of Worcester played fast-pitch softball in Germany with the Air Force after World War II. He plays all winter long in Florida. Last Sunday, he smacked a walkoff single in extra innings to beat Springfield.
What would he say to someone telling him he’s too old to play softball? Marcel was definitely not Marceau in his answer.
“I’d tell ’em to go to hell,” he says. “Come down and watch us play and you’ll see. Do we look 80? It surprises a lot of people the first time they see us play.”
Frank Birch, 73, a fan from Worcester, agrees. “People expect players to be [leaning on] two tennis balls in front of a walker, and that’s not the case,” he says. “There are some people here who can outrun most 40-year-olds.”
The tournament marked the first time that the four major senior softball groups in the state — representing Eastern Mass., Worcester, Springfield, and tourney champ Cape Cod — have met with mostly 80-plus players.
Teams were allowed to have four players age 79 and three age 78. The oldest player was Worcester’s captain, Ray Louring, 89 years young.
The rules allow for double bases at first and home to avoid collisions. Camaraderie is key, but there is no beer drinking. “We’re past that,” says Marcel. “We’d get drunk on one or two beers.”
The old-timers don’t approach this as an Old-Timers Game.
“We are very serious athletes playing a competitive game,” Stewart wrote in an e-mail. “We care about winning and losing.”
Carl Forsman, 79, of Worcester, plays the hot corner with style. He has had back surgeries, both knees totally done over, and shoulder surgery. But he adopts the philosophy of ancient sage Yogi Berra, 89.
“Why am I playing ball?” he asks. “’Cause I ain’t down under yet.”