SPA News

What's Happening in Senior Softball


I began putting some of my thoughts down on paper and wanted to share them with you.  To find out about True Friends, read below.  Enjoy….. 



      Softball is not just a sport where you play a few
games and then you go home.
    There is more that comes out of it than
winning or losing.
With softball comes some of the best friends that you will ever
You play on teams together, you laugh together you cry together.
You meet new friends through softball
from other teams too.
It’s a never ending chain.
    A real softball friend is one who is there for you on the
field and off the field.
A real softball friend is there to help you with your bumps and bruises.
A real softball friend is there to pick you up after a rough game or
congratulate you
after a great one.
    A real softball friend keeps in touch with you after the
season has ended and
for many years to come.
    I just wanted to let you all know that you are my real
softball friends.
    I will always be there for you and will always keep you in
my heart.
    This is not a chain letter. It is a poem written to let you
all know that someone does care about
you and will
never forget you. Send this to all the
    people you consider your real softball friends and when you
get it back you
    will know who your real softball friends are,






The earliest known softball game was played in Chicago, Illinois on Thanksgiving Day, 1887.  It took place in the Farragut Boat Club at a gathering to hear the outcome of Yale and Harvard football game.  When the score was announced and bets were settled, a Yale alumnus threw a boxing glove at a Harvard supporter.  Another person grabbed a stick and swung at it.  George Hancock called out “Play ball” and the game began, with the boxing glove tightened into a ball, a broom handle serving as a bat.  The first contest ended with a score of 41-40.  The ball, being soft, was fielded barehanded and thus, the game became softball.



 COLUMBUS, OHIO – Perseverance paid off for the CHICAGO GEEZERS 75'S AAA team when after TWENTY-TWO YEARS and SIX BRACKET GAMES they finally won their first SPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP JULY 7-11 at COLUMBUS,OHIO

 It has been a long time,” CHICAGO GEEZER and SPA 75 AAA MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR BILL DOELL said,” But it certainly is worth the wait.”

 The GEEZERS were started as a 55'S team by SAM GEATS and DAN WATERS and have played in the 55, 60, 65, 70 and 75 Divisions of Senior Softball. DOELL, who succeeded GLEN GROBELI as the team's manager two years ago says it has been a long time coming.”

 We've gone through a lot of players, changes and finances ever since 1993,” DOELL said, “and being self sponsored, I don't even want to venture a guess how much it has cost everyone to play.”

 Playing nine tournaments a year can be an expensive ordeal. Each member contributes $275, FEDERAL ENVELOPE of CHICAGO paid for new uniforms.

 The team's hunt for it's first SPA WORLD TITLE even looked in the early going at COLUMBUS that maybe it would take another year to win a championship.

 The GEEZERS who have played at .500 pace (9-9) the past two years started off the same way they have played in that span, as a .500 team.

 We lost our first game in pool by one run and then won our next one on a walk-off walk,” DOELL explained, “We won our final pool game but lost to the ANTIQUES 13-8 in our first bracket game.”

 However, good things sometimes come to those who wait and such was the case for the GEEZERS.

 I was just hoping for one more win in bracket play and then we could go home happy,” DOELL said, “But then we beat HARRIS AUCTION 28-23 and the STATESMEN 30-29 and all of a sudden we were in the finals of the loser's bracket.”

 The GEEZERS continued their run through the loser's bracket beating PROHEALTH CARE 24-16 in the loser's bracket finals to earn a shot at number one seed and undefeated JERSEY JAGS.

 We were tied at 21-21 in the bottom of the seventh against the JAGS, when JAY AVERY delivered a bases loaded two-out single to force the “if” game,” DOELL said.

 The GEEZERS finished off their five-game consecutive winning streak with a 22-15 win over the JAGS in the title game and earning them that long awaited first-ever SPA WORLD title.

 The championship was totally unexpected,” DOELL explained, “We have played in a bunch of tournaments the past two years and haven't won a thing,” he said, “To win the SPA 75 WORLDS with such a large field of great 75's is a tremendous experience.”

 The team also took home a number of individual honors highlighted by DOELL being chosen as the TOURNAMENT'S MVP. He earned the award with sparkling defensive play in left center field and a .786 batting average and a team high five home runs.

 Others earning spots on the ALL AMERICAN team were MATT BARONE (1b, .750), TOM BRIGLIO (LF, .697), PAUL DAILEY (RF, .667), JIM DEDELOW (2B, .636) and JERRY HANDEL (C, .533).

 We actually feel anybody on our team could be ALL AMERICAN and earn ALL-TOURNAMENT honors,” DOELL explained, “So throughout the year we spread the awards around to make certain everyone on the team has received that honor at least once.”

 Others on the team were AVERY (2B,.824), FRED GRUNINGER (C,.786), TONY GURDAK (RCF, .559), RAY HAFERTEPE (3B, .697), HARVEY KOST (P,.700), JESSE MANUEL (RC, .774), JACK MILLER (P, .594) and MICKEY MILLS (SS,.774).

 Also coming in for special recognition were BARONE, who served as the team's assistant manager and the team scorers, MYRNA MILLER and JUDY HAFERTEPE.

 SPA has done a great job for the 75's and 80's teams,” DOELL said, “With their tournaments in BARBERTON, COLUMBUS, SHELBYVILLE and the COLUMBUS WORLDS they show that they really do care about the teams.”

 The personal touch they add to call teams and e-mailing them to keep them informed of tournaments in our age group is really appreciated,” he added, “ They are definitely the top senior softball organization for 75's and 80's teams.”

 Although DOELL loved the COLUMBUS WORLDS and especially the astroturf fields, he still has a soft spot in his heart for DALTON.

 We always loved DALTON and hope SPA can move it (75 WORLDS) back there occasionally and especially later in the year,” DOELL said, “The WORLDS should be the final tournament of the year and held in SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER and if they could move it to later that would be great.”

 Now with a WORLD TITLE under their belt, the GEEZERS main concern is where can they play next year.

 We know we will be moved to MAJOR and this past year there were no SPA tournaments for 75 MAJORS until the WORLDS,” DOELL said, “We hope SPA can set up some four-team major brackets at some of the tournaments. We certainly don't want to have to wait another twenty years for a chance to win another tournament.”



COLUMBUS, OHIO – TWENTY-TWO 75 and 80 AAA teams along with the 75 MAJOR DIVISION surprised even SPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RIDGE HOOKS with the turnout for the SPA WORLDS at COLUMBUS, OHIO'S BERLINER PARK AUGUST 11-14.

“It was a pleasant surprise though,” HOOKS said, “ Think about this. In 2010 we had SEVEN TEAMS in those DIVISIONS (75 AAA, 75 M, 80 AAA) play at the SPA WORLDS in DALTON and in 2011 there were only four.”

 “We took a small survey and it showed the majority of that age group is from the mid west and mid east, so we moved the tournament to COLUMBUS, OHIO where teams suggested we hold it,” HOOKS explained, “I am certainly glad we listened.”

 The total of 22 teams may not sound like a big deal but when you consider how many teams actually are in those divisions it is amazing.

 SPA has 23 registered 75 AAA TEAMS which means 56-percent (13 teams) attended the tournament. It was even higher for the 80's as 5 of 7 (71-percent) made the trip to COLUMBUS while 4 of the 9 registered 75 MAJORS participated.

 The attendance was also spread among 15 states, so the attendance was definitely not regional as teams from INDIANA, MICHIGAN, ARKANSAS, NEW YORK, KANSAS, ILLINOIS. NEW JERSEY, WISCONSIN, TEXAS, OHIO, MINNESOTA, GEORGIA, MARYLAND, KENTUCKY and PENNSYLVANIA attended.

 Four DIVISION champs were crowned with WISCONSIN'S PROHEALTH CARE 80's going undefeated in bracket play, ending it up with a 21-15 win over the TEXAS CLASSICS finals to win the 80 AAA crown. Others in the bracket were SOUTHWEST STARS, COSSA 80'S and JIMMY”S MINNESOTA LEGENDS.

 In the four-team 75 MAJOR group, the LEFTOVERS claimed the title with a 23-8 win over HAMEL'S 75's in the championship game. The LEFTOVERS also defeated JIMMY'S MINNESOTA GOLD 27-12 and HAMELS 75's in an earlier game 21-20. CANTERBURY CRUISERS was the fourth team in the field.

 PEACH TREE RESTAURANT took no prisoners in rolling through the seven-team 75 AAA SILVER bracket. The PENNSYLVANIA team beat LOUISVILLE THUNDER 27-13, INDIANA SILVER FOXES 32-9, INDY CROWNS 15-0 and LOUISVILLE THUNDER 14-8 in the championship game.

 Others in the group were COSSA 75'S, MICHIGAN LAKERS and NAMI CONSTRUCTION.

 The CHICAGO GEEZERS lost their first game in bracket play 13-8 to the ANTIQUES and had to come out of the loser's bracket winning five in-a-row to take home the 75 AAA GOLD top prize.

 Along the way the GEEZERS beat HARRIS AUCTION28-23, NY STATESMEN 30-29, PROHEALTH 75'S 24-16, JERSEY JAGS 22-21 and the JAGS again, this time in the :IF” game 22-15.

 “I thought it was a great tournament,” TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR DON CHERRY said, “BERLINER PARK was an excellent facility. We had thunderstorms all over the place on MONDAY and I mean big ones but when they stopped we went right out and played.”

 “They have artificial turf and you just go back on them and play without needing grounds work,” CHERRY added, ”there was really some great competition with over half the games going to the last inning to decide the winner.”

 The SPA office also took a survey among the managers dealing with 2015 age rules, tournament locations, etc. and the results will be released as soon as they are compiled.


MUSTANG, OK - For 75 and 80 teams it has become a "no brainer", if you want to play tournaments where you will find other 75 and 80 teams you play the SPA MID-WEST and MID-EAST CIRCUIT.

That was verified again in 2014 when five SPA TOURNAMENTS again proved to be the top draw east of VEGAS in all SENIOR TOURNAMENTS hosting 75 and 80 Division teams.

"Over the past six years we have seen the attendance at just our WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS for 75 and 80 quadruple in attendance," SPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RIDGE HOOKS said, "This year alone we are expecting 22 teams (13 75 AAA, 4 75M, 5 80'S)  in that age group. That is expecting not projecting."

The high attendance figure is not only in the SPA WORLDS. THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC drew fifteen 75's and three 80's to the JUNE BARBERTON,OHIO tournament while the JUNE COLUMBUS,OHIO HEART OF OHIO tournament has six 75's. SHELBYVILLE, INDIANA'S JULY HOOSIER CLASSIC pulled in seven 75's while GLEN BURNIE, MARYLAND had five 75's. 

That may not soul like many teams but when you are a 75 or 80 team it is a breath of fresh air.

"We just got back from the SSUSA MID-WEST NATIONALS in Kansas and we had to play 70's teams," TOM NORMAN, manager of the TEXAS CLASSIC'S 80's said, "It isn't much fun playing teams 10-to-15 years younger than you."

What the TEXAS CLASSICS experienced is not an exception but more like the norm. Out of all the SSUSA and ISSA tournaments east of VEGAS this year only one had three or more 75/80 teams entered.

"The 75 Division teams all know, if you want to play in a tournament where you see a lot of different 75's teams you have to play SPA and mainly in the mid-west," BILL REGAN, manager of PENNSYLVANIA'SPEACHTREE RESTAURANT team said," "You would hope the other organizations would try to put on a few "75/80 division friendly" tournaments together but that hasn't happened."

These aren't just local teams making the trip to the mid-west tournaments for 75's and 80's, they are coming from KANSAS, TEXAS, MINNESOTA, WISCONSIN, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, MARYLAND, GEORGIA, INDIANA, ILLINOIS, KENTUCKY, MICHIGAN, PENNSYLVANIA and the CAROLINA's.

"You go where the other teams go and right now they are playing in INDIANA and OHIO," BOB NAMI, managerof NEW JERSEY'S NAMI CONSTRUCTION said, "I don't know what their (SPA) secret is but they sure turn out the 75 and 80 teams at their tournaments." 

JACK HAYDEN of the 75's LOUISVILLE THUNDER said it best.

"Teams have to decide if they want to pay $450 to go to a tournament a hundred miles away and play 70's teams and/or one 75 team or pay the same price and travel 400 miles and play different teams in their own age class," HAYDEN asked. "We prefer to go those extra miles and play lots of different teams in our own age group." 

Another manager said, "If we are going to travel a hundred miles or more to play in a tournament and there is only one other 75 team, we would be better off staying home and inviting that other team to visit us and play a few games over a week-end and both can save the $400 entry fee."

So this winter when you start planning where to play in 2015 be sure and put the SPA MID-WEST tournaments on your list, especially if you want to play 75's and 80's and not 70's. You will not regret it.

Speaking for SPA, we hope to see you in 2015.



SHELBYVILLE, INDIANA – Senior Softball's longest running MID-WEST tournament, the HOOSIER CLASSIC celebrated its 19th consecutive year entertaining thirty-three teams July 15-20 at SHELBYVILLE'S BLUE RIVER PARK.

“The HOOSIER CLASSIC is by far one of the best senior tournaments going,” SPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RIDGE HOOKS said, “How can you argue with success. Nineteen consecutive years, that is fantastic.”

“DWAINE LAIRD started this tournament years ago and today ED WEST along with GEORGE LANE and R.C.BROWN have continued to make the HOOSIER CLASSIC one of the most respected senior softball tournaments not only in SPA but in the entire senior softball program,” HOOKS added.

Limited by only having four fields, the 2014 SPA HOOSIER CLASSIC again reached the maximum amount of teams with thirty-three visiting BLUE RIVER PARK. Ten champions were crowned AA/AAA double-elimination event.

KENTUCKY team BORROMEOS took home the 50 AAA title edging INDIANA'S CIRCLE CITY PLAYMAKERS 17-16 in the championship game. BLUEGRASS SOFTBALL was the third team in the group.

A home state team, ANTIQUE ROADSHOW narrowly held off SIX PACK 22-21 IN THE 55 AAA FINALE. SIX PACK made it to the championship game by slipping by LOUISVILLE OG'S 18-17.

It was a CANADIAN HOLIDAY as CAVCO came south of the border to beat INDY FOG 19-13 for the 60 AA crown. The DAYTON LEGENDS rounded out the three-team bracket.

The ZEPPELINS won a nail-biter in the 60 AAA GOLD brackets. The ZEP'S held on for a narrow 18-17 over UNIVERSAL SOFTBALL. The KC THUNDER finished third.

(BY) GRACE REDEEMED beat THE BOMB SQUAD twice (33-19, 20-19) to finish on top of the podium in the 60 AAA SILVER BRACKET. SYLVANIA, OHIO'S MAUMEE BAY RAPTORS was the third team in the group.

JIM & JOE'S went 3-0 beating the INDIANA LEGENDS 15-7, KENTUCKIANA 16-12 and the INDIANA LEGENDS again, this time 28-12 to win the 65 AA BRACKET.

US JOBS kept the 65 AAA title in the home state beating DOC MARTENS 16-13 in the title game. Leading up to the finale, US JOBS had a pair of close calls edging DOC MARTENS 22-21 and MID STATES SENIORS 18-17.

Five teams went after the bacon in the 70 AA BRACKET and when the dust had cleared, CENTRAL OHIO COSSA stood at the top of the heap.

COSSA beat MID STATE SRS 15-9 and JOB CENTRAL 24-18 before disposing of SENIOR RED BIRDS 26-18 in the championship game. The other team in the field was the COLUMBUS SILVER STICKS.

The INDY CROWNS ran the table beating CHICAGO GEEZERS 23-17, PFEIFFERS AUTO 30-29 and PFEIFFERS AUTO again (21-20) for the 75 AAA GOLD title. PRO HEALTH CARE rounded out the bracket.

The LOUISVILLE THUNDER downed the SILVER FOXES (22-6) and the MICGIGAN LAKERS twice by scores of 14-13 and 24-15 for the 75 AAA SILVER CHAMPIONSHIP.

The seven team tour out for the 75's DIVISION championship was the third highest gathering of 75's in any senior softball tournament, regardless of the organization, east of Vegas. Only THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC and the SPA 75's WORLDS had more.



 DALTON, GEORGIA – What a difference a year makes. After going 1-2 in the SPA 55 MAJOR WORLDS in 2013, DOCS came up with a new prescription for success and ran the table at the this year's SPA WORLDS to take the 2014 55 MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP.

The tournament held JULY 17-20 at HERITAGE POINT PARK in DALTON, GEORGIA saw DOCS with the exception of a tight 29-28 win over SWEET CONSTRUCTION in the second round easily roll to the 55 MAJOR TITLE.

 Our secret this year is we have a balanced attack of one-thru-twelve in the batting order,” DOCS and SPA'S 50 MAJOR MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR NICK INBODEN said, “Teams can't take a breather at any time in our order, anybody in the line-up can hurt you.”

 That fact is easily solidified by the fact DOCS using all 15 players on the roster had an actual team batting average of .750. In all games pool and bracket with the exclusion of a forfeit win, they outscored the opposition 132-89.

 In bracket play they averaged 29 runs a game to their three opponents' 15 run total. After their 29-28 win over SWEET, they easily disposed of HIGH STREET BUCS 27-9, S.A. 55 SOFTBALL (15-0 FORFEIT) and SWEET CONSTRUCTION again, this time in the title game 31-9.

 We were on our game in this tournament,” INBODEN said, “Sometimes you get in one of those grooves where hitting and good defensive plays become contagious with nobody wanting to make the last out and everyone is playing at the top of their game. This was one of those times.”

 This has also been a good year on the tournament trail for DOCS as they have added titles from the BRICKYARD, SMOKEY MOUNTAIN, DAYTON and COLUMBUS,OHIO in addition to their first SPA WORLD TITLE at DALTON.

 We play all the organization's tournaments,” INBODEN said, “ Although SPA is by far our favorite, you have to play tournaments where they have a 55-major division, which isn't always the case at SPA tournaments.”

 With all the traveling we have to do, senior softball is expensive,” INBODEN added, “We foot our own travel bills but we also receive some great help from our sponsor who pays the entry fees and covers the cost of uniforms and other incidentals.”

 DOCS sponsor is a DOC (what a surprise). Chiropractors KEN SCHONE and LYNN RINGHEISER have not only been taking care of the team financially but also in the office.

 Every week either before or after tournaments, we (team) all start limping into their office for weekly adjustments,” INBODEN laughed, “ They are really good and I would recommend them to anybody, especially ballplayers.”

 The team was originally SCHONES when they started as a 50's team in 2005 and today, almost ten years later, still consider softball a way of life.

 Most of us grew up together on the ball field and we just look forward to continuing it,” INBODEN explained, “ Our tournaments are more like a family reunion where everyone , wives included, get together for a fun two-or-three day vacation. Those are great memories and just make playing senior softball that much more enjoyable.”

 INBODEN also mentioned his team is starting to get close to social security age with three-quarters of the squad past the age of 60 years, but he isn't concerned.

 Age is just a number.” he said, “You have to forget that number and just go out and play, have fun and treasure the memories of being together.”

 Five of those teammates came in for special recognition at DALTON.

 CLIFF CARPENTER was honored as the TOURNAMENT MVP. All the second baseman did was compile a team high .945 batting average.

 Being selected to the ALL-AMERICAN team were REX HICKS (3B,,844), GARY PERKINS )P, .824), TEDDY WEINGARTNER (DH/C, .830), KEVIN FARKAS (1B, .834) and CARPENTER.


 Coming in for special recognition from INBODEN and his teammates were the “traveling wife's club.”

 They have been really supportive,” INBODEN said, “There is no way we could pursue our hobby without their help. They have supported us all the way.”

 They (wives, friends) are also at the games cheering us on, helping at team's functions. They are a very special part of our success and although maybe we don't say it enough, “we really do appreciate them.”


 WEINGARTNER, according to INBODEN, also deserves the “SPA 2014 STATISTICIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD.”

 She is fantastic,” he said.

 As for 2015, the program has not been set.

 With so many 60's players we do not know if we will stay at 55 MAJOR PLUS or go 60, we haven't decided yet,” the MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR said, “One thing is for certain we want to return to DALTON, whatever age or Division we are in.”

 This is just a great facility and there always lots of great competition with all the other major and major plus teams attending. RIDGE HOOKS and SPA run a tremendous tournament, we really enjoyed it.”



DALTON, GEORGIA – Move over NEW YORK YANKEES 1927 MURDER”S ROW, there is a new powerhouse line-up on the block and it belongs to the 60 MAJOR PLUS SUPERIOR SENIOR SOFTBALL TEAM.

The VIRGINIA team made shambles of the competition at the SPA DALTON WORLDS July 17-20 outscoring the opposition 127-69 in four games while also compiling a batting average.

 In the championship game 37-18 win over last year's 60 MAJOR CHAMP. MINNESOTA MASTERS WHITE, they pounded out 49 hits of which only five traveled over the fence.

 Yes, we really had it going at DALTON,” SUPERIOR SENIOR SOFTBALL MANAGER and SPA 60 MAJOR PLUS MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR JIM SEARS said, “There are some tournaments when everything goes right for a team and some that everything goes wrong and at DALTON everything went right.”

 In their four games SSS downed HOLLIS APPRAISALS 35-29, MINNESOTA WHITE 29-11, HOLLIS 26-11 and MINNESOTA 37-18.

 Of course winning has been the norm for the team in 2014. So far in 2014 the 60'S MAJOR PLUS team has won eight tournaments and their counterparts the 65 MAJOR PLUS HAMEL BUILDERS SUPERIOR SENIOR SOFTBALL TEAM has captured three.

 Since changing names from TURN TWO/SPICER two years ago they have won FIVEWORLDS and NINENATIONALS.

 If you have the players, it makes it sort of easy,” SEARS said, “This team also enjoys playing together and takes their game seriously. They enjoy winning.”

 You won't find the names of RUTH, GEHRIG, MUESAL and LAZZEREI on this new MURDERS' ROW but there are a few names which are familiar to senior softball fans.

 Sprinkled through the line-up are SIX IMPACT PLAYERS: DANNY BALLARD (70), DON CLATTERBOUGH (65), JOHN DAVIDE (65), TOMDOMMEL,SR (65), TOMTUDOR (65) and PETE SMITH (65).

 The rest of the roster are no slouches either. The tournament MVP was short stop HAL HARRISON. HARRISON more than capably filled in for the injured TOMDOMMEL,SR defensively and at bat went 14-for-14.

 Joining HARRISON in receiving ALL-AMERICAN status were BALLARD (1B,.833), BILL CAMERON (P/1B, .882), CLATTERBOUGH (C,.823), DAVIDE (2b, .938) and DENNIS TUCK (3B, .938).


 Non-roster support was given by statistician ROSSI DODSON and equipment manager WESLEYWALDEN. (MIKE) GOODMAN in addition to his contributions on the field also is a big reason the team can make it without a full time sponsor.

 Mike and his company RM GOODMAN BUILDERS out of BEAVERDAM, VIRGINIA has really helped the program with his financial assistance,” SEARS said, “He does this on his own and we really appreciate his help.”

 SEARS emphatically claimed the teams biggest support comes from the wives.

 Oh definitely,” he said, “They are at every game pepping us up with their cheers and support. They maythink we don't hear their cheers and appreciate them but we really do hear them and it does help us on the field.”

 Like most MAJOR PLUS and even MAJOR teams/ SUPERIOR SENIOR SOFTBALL does feel the financial pinch.

 If major plus teams want to play in a tournament, we can't get in a car and drive there, we usually have to fly,” SEARS explained, “Most local and regional tournaments do not have MAJOR PLUS DIVISIONS, we have to fly to the big one to play, like DALTON, VEGAS, etc.. If we do get to play in a REGIONAL or smaller NATIONAL, we have to play 50 and 55 majors.”

 I would expect the only time we will be able to play 60-MAJOR teams is when we are 90-years old and we will probably have to spot them seven runs,” he added.

 Of course you can always break up the team and scatter the players, right?


 It would be the same story, there are not enough major plus teams for these guys to be split among,” SEARS said, “I don't have the answer, maybe have the major teams start loading up and come up and play with the major plus teams instead of trying to avoid the major plus division.”

 SEARS said he did hear there was a possibility SPA may be holding a couple of MAJOR and MAJOR PLUS only regional tournaments in the east and mid-west in 2015.

 That would be great,” he said, “Then we wouldn't have to worry about having a 30,000 mile check-up every month or so.”

 The organizations (SPA and SSUSA) created the MAJOR and MAJOR PLUS Divisions but they don't offer us enough tournaments to play,” SEARS added, “We love the SPA organization and the tournaments they have, we just hope RIDGE can come up with a way to offer us more tournaments. We definitely would attend.”



 DALTON, GEORGIA – JIM FERGUSON and his RATED ATHLETICS 50 MAJOR softball team added a new twist to HORACE GREELEY'S famous quote, “Go WEST young man, Go West...” to find fame.

FERGUSON and his gang instead went EAST and ended up winning their first ever WORLD SENIOR SOFTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP, the SPA 50 MAJOR WORLDS in DALTON, GEORGIA JULY 17-20.

 We had won a few local and regional tournaments in the West and the BLACK ATHLETES SOFTBALL ASSOCIATION (BASA) WORLDS in ATLANTA three years ago, but nothing this big,” FERGUSON said, “This is really special considering this is only our second year in the SPA organization.”

 The RATED ATHLETICS team made the move to SPA two years ago when FERGUSON said the other organization they played with unfairly (in his opinion) moved the team to MAJOR PLUS.

 There was no way we were a major plus team, we had all the facts, results and info that showed it but they moved us to MAJOR PLUS right before a big tournament and they wouldn't listen,” he explained, “I decided to call RIDGE HOOKS at SPA with the same info and he agreed to let us play MAJOR in 2013.”

 Apparently FERGUSON was correct about his team because at the DALTON WORLDS in 2013, they went 2-and-2 and gone. But that was then and this is now and the result is a WORLD TITLE.

 A big difference to this year from last,” FERGUSON said, “Last year we came in unprepared and paid the price. This year we were ready and knew what to expect.”

 It didn't start off that great as the RATED ATHLETIC lost its first pool game to MONSTER SOFTBALL 12-11 before winning the second game 34-33 over the ATLANTA MONARCHS.

 After that it was , “KATIE BAR THE DOOR” as the CALIFORNIANS knocked off HERRINGTON SERVICES (27-12) and the number one seed MONSTER SOFTBALL (26-8).

 That was followed by a 34-11 thumping of LIGHTHOUSE LOOKOUTS and the GOOD TIMES 20-15. The party ended shortly thereafter when GOOD TIMES came out of the losers bracket to force an “IF” game with a 42-30 win.

 Man, can the GOOD TIMES hit the ball,” FERGUSON said, “They must have hit twenty home runs but of course a lot of them became singles when they reached their home run quota.”

 For the “IF” game, FERGUSON and the others decided to try a new strategy. They went with three outfielders, over loaded one side and had TOURNAMENT MVP PITCHER FREDDIE RIVAS pitch the ball flat and inside.

 The strategy worked as the home team RATED ATHLETICS won the “IF” game 30-25.

 What a team effort,” Ferguson said, “ Guys were making tremendous defense plays. Coming up with key hits and RIVAS was just outstanding with his pitching and defense.”

 ALL-AMERICAN second baseman RUDY RAGADIO carried the big stick in the title game with a pair of grand slam homers.

 RIVAS, who won all five bracket games also batted .848 for the tournament with six homers. Defensively, after he pitches he drops back to second base giving the team another additional infielder.

 Joining RIVAS and RAGADIO (.636) in the gold glove and ALL-AMERICAN parade was third baseman CLIFF “COWBOY” MCLAUGHLIN (.666) , a professional stunt man.

 His “stunt background” certainly helped as FERGUSON said, “COWBOY stood on his ear many times during the tournament making defensive plays others just dream about making.”

 Others receiving ALL-AMERICAN recognition were K.T. THOMPSON (CF), SS GREG BOVERO and R.J. JOHNSON.

 JOHNSON batted .757 with six round trippers. THOMPSON was at .692 with eight home runs while BOVERO in addition to hitting .692 sparkled on defense throughout the tournament.

 Of course you don't win a tournament with just a few All-STARS, you need a whole team of them.

 Exactly,” FERGUSON said, “Everybody played like an ALL-AMERICAN at DALTON, it was just a shame we couldn't give everyone ALL-AMERICAN recognition because each player deserved that honor.”

 Others on the team are: RON CHENIER (RF,.714), BARRY MORTON (p,2-0), FERGUSON (LF, .769, 9 HR'S), KEN HILL (,652, 5 HR'S, MGR), RAMON RUELAS (2B/OF, INJURED), the team “ROOKIE”,CARLOS RIVERA (.577, 4 hr's), SCOTT “MR. INTENSITY” CAMERY (.657) and CHRIS YAP, pinch hitter extraordinary who went 7-for-7 in that role.

 One of the biggest assets to the team is catcher ARNIE VICE. VICE not only shines on the field with his .720 average and 7 home runs but also off the field.

 VICE is the owner of the RATED ATHLETICS sports outlet which is the team sponsor. He isn't the only “VICE” the team has either.

 ARNIE's wife EVE is like the team's traveling secretary taking care of all the travel plans and such. With her help the team was able to rent cabins in the backwoods of DALTON, where they relaxed fishing, swimming and partying.

 Joining EVE as the team's chief cooks and special cheerleaders were wives PAULA FERGUSON. AILICIA RUELAS and KAREN MCLAUGHLIN.

 This was just a great all-around experience for us,' FERGUSON said, “The winning was great but secondary to our team being able to be together and celebrate as a family.”

 And as far as SPA and RIDGE HOOKS goes, one of the best decisions we have made was to align with SPA. They mean it when they say, “it is the player's association.” It was a tremendous experience and we look forward to returning in 2015.”



 SYLVANIA, OHIO – The SPA 2014 SYLVANIA GREAT LAKES NIT TOURNAMENT continues to carry a “SUPERIOR RATING” as far as senior softball teams are concerned.

The fourth year of the GREAT LAKES event, held at OHIO'S SYLVANIA, RECREATION'S PACESETTER PARK JULY 31-AUGUST 3, saw an increase in participation with FORTY-ONE TEAMS participating in the seven divisional brackets. It was the third growth year in a row for one of SPA'S most popular tournaments.

We not only are growing but for the first time we brought in teams from the east coast,” SYLVANIA TOURNAMENT REPRESENTATIVE JERRY KEEFE said,” That shows our reputation as a quality tournament is spreading. In addition to CANADIAN, MICHIGAN,OHIO and INDIANA teams we also had teams from CHICAGO, PITTSBURGH and NEW JERSEY.”

A lot of the credit for the recognition the GREAT LAKES TOURNEY is receiving should go to JAKE HENSEL, SYLVANIA RECREATION PROGRAM DIRECTOR and SPA REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE LARRY MILLIRON.” KEEFE added.” They both do a great job and their efforts along with the PARK'S grounds crew reflects why this tournament is so well received.”

The tournament's largest group, the 60 AAA, saw eight teams battle for the championship with UNIVERSAL SOFTBALL beating the “home town” MAUMEE BAY RAPTORS twice for the title. The COLUMBUS team won 24-16 in the title match and 23-22 in an earlier bracket game.

UNIVERSAL also beat CARR'S SHELL 25-10 and MINUTEMEN/PEPCO 16-10. The RAPTORS reached the title game by beating CHICAGO PRIME 17-6.

The other teams in the bracket were THE BOMB SQUAD, PRONIO SPORTS and OHIO SILVERADO'S. The EIGHT teams in the 65 AAA DIVISION was the fifth highest entry total of any senior softball tournament east of VEGAS.

The GREAT LAKES also had the second highest total of attendees in the 70 AA and 70 AAA, ranking only behind THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC for all tournaments to date in senior softball east of VEGAS.

The 70 AAA DIVISION went to another COLUMBUS team as CENTRAL OHIO COSSA defeated MICHIANA MERCHANTS 17-14 in an “IF” game. The winners had forced the “showdown game” by beating MICHIANA 19-12 which also avenged an earlier 23-15 defeat at the hands of the team from ”UP NORTH”.

COSSA also had the distinction of playing the most games in the tournament They lost their second bracket game and had to fight their way out of the loser's bracket which forced them to play seven games to win it all.

COSSA'S other wins were 13-7 over JOB CENTRAL, 16-15 over BRANTFORD NISSAN, 8-5 against DORCHESTER CANADIANS and PITTSBURGH GOLD 21-16. AKRON BRENNANS was the other team in the seven-team bracket.

In the six-team 70 AA bracket the DAYTON LEGENDS edged FRICKER'S SPORTS BAR SYLVANIA 19-18 for the title. The DAYTON squad beat CHICAGO GREY SOX (15-0) and MISSISSAUGA LEGENDS 11-7 on the way to the crown.

FRICKERS beat CHICAGO (15-0) and MISSISSAUGA (16-12) to earn their spot in the finals. Others in the field were OLDE D'S and INDIANAPOLIS CLASSICS.

The four-team 60 AA title went to BRANTFORD NISSAN who swept bracket play beating MISSISSAUGA LEGENDS (22-13), CAVCO (19-15) and DAYTON (24-10). MISSISSAUGA made the finals by edging CAVCO 24-23.

The HAWKS NEST took no prisoners in easily going 4-0 in the six-team 65 AAA group. The PENNSYLVANIA team beat BRANTFORD NISSAN 21-14 in the finals after beating NEW JERSEY MASTERS 28-17, RUSH TRUCKING 27-16 and MICHIGAN LAKERS 32-21 in earlier games.

BRANTFORD beat the NEW JERSEY MASTERS 26-25 to make it to the title game. SYLVANIA 65's rounded out the field.

The WINDSOR CHIEFS 55's added an INTERNATIONAL flavor to the awards celebrations as the CANADIAN team nipped the GOLDEN VIPERS 20-19 for the five-team 55's DIVISION top spot.

The CHIEFS also beat BANKER AND MANN SOFTBALL 18-12 and the VIPERS 21-6 to go 3-0 in bracket play. The VIPERS made it to the finals by beating BANKER AND MANN SOFTBALL 19-10.


PDC also went undefeated in bracket play (3-0) to take home the top prize in the 50'S five-team group. The champs beat DAYTON LEGENDS HITMEN 26-25, JJ FINANCIAL EAGLES 23-15 and DAYTON LEGENDS HITMEN (earlier game) 21-18.

DAYTON slid by JJ FINANCIAL 18-17 to earn their spot in the finals. Others in the field were SYLVANIA EAGLES and WINDSOR FOG.

KEEFE summarized, “Good teams and good competition help make a good tournament and we had both this year and are eagerly looking forward to 2015 in hopes of reaching our goal of FIFTY TEAMS. Teams should watch for e-mails as soon as our dates are finalized.”



  SYLVANIA, OHIO – Sylvania, Ohio has become one of the fastest growing success stories in not only SPA but in all of senior softball.

 In eight years the SYLVANIA SENIOR SOFTBALL LEAGUE has grown from one ten team league to two leagues with twenty teams and nearly 300 participants from age 50 up.

 In addition, the four-year old SPA SYLVANIA GREAT LAKES NIT CLASSIC, spearheaded by members from the SYLVANIA organization, is now in the top sixteen attended senior softball tournaments among all SPA, SSUSA and ISSA senior tournaments east of Las Vegas.

 Although he won't take all the credit he deserves, JERRY KEEFE has been the major moving factor in both.

 It took a lot of people not just one to get the ball moving to form the League and the tournament,” KEEFE said, “ GORDON HIRSCH, BRUCE ANDERSON, GARY MEYER and myself got the idea to start a senior league back in 2008 and that is how it started.”

 Most of the original members of the League came from the East Toledo organization and really weren't happy with the ETO.

 Borrowing on his marketing skills as MARKETING DIRECTOR for TOLEDO JEWELERS, KEEFE organized a marketing plan that would make any organization proud.

 Using a newspaper blitz in all papers within a FIFTY-MILES radius, he promoted and advertised for senior softball players. He then devised a mailing list using names of former players from rec leagues the quartet knew and topped it off with a phone blitz.

 Reaching potential customers, advertising the product and then selling it is the secret to any marketing plan and it really worked well for us,” KEEFE said.

 Another major factor in getting the league going and keeping it growing in popularity since 2008 has been sponsors.

 We couldn't keep our price per player down without sponsors,” KEEFE stated,”Without them it would cost players over $100 to sign-up in the League as opposed to the $70 we now receive”.

 The sponsors take care of the team shirts and hats and the league's biggest expense then are the field rentals and year-end awards. Members of all the league championship teams receive jackets and we also have additional individual awards at the Leagues Awards and Recognition Banquets,” he explained.

 Foremost among the sponsors is FRICKERS SPORTS BAR in SYLVANIA. Owner RAY FRICK sponsors six teams in the twenty-team league. He also backs the 70'S FRICKERS SPORTS BAR travel team and is constantly contributing additional money to the organizations operation.

 Speaking of tournament teams, there are travel teams in the 50, 55, 60, 65 and 70 teams from the SYLVANIA league.

 Having travel teams has also helped increase our membership as members look forward to playing in different locations like Columbus, Barberton, Dayton and Shelbyville, “ KEEFE explained. “Maybe in a few years we can go to DALTON and other SPA tournaments.”

 Attending SPA tournaments in BARBERTON and COLUMBUS also gave KEEFE the idea to have a senior tournament in SYLVANIA.

 I contacted SSUSA and SPA but nobody was interested in us,” KEEFE explained, “But that changed when SPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RIDGE HOOKS met with me at THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC TOURNAMENT in JUNE, 2011 and talked with me about the possibility.”

 I was thinking, yeah right, you will probably forget about me and SYLVANIA as soon as you get back to OKLAHOMA. BOY WAS I WRONG!!.”

 HOOKS flew to SYLVANIA in JULY to meet with KEEFE and PACESETTERS ROB CONOVER about SYLVANIA hosting a tournament.

 He followed that up with another meeting in DECEMBER and shortly thereafter the SYLVANIA GREAT LAKES NIT was born.

 Just like the creation of the SYLVANIA SOFTBALL LEAGUE, getting the tournament started also was not a one-man operation,” KEEFE said, “In addition to ROB CONOVER and PACESETTER PARK, we received a lot of help from SPA's LARRY MILLIRON and HO HOFFMAN, especially through promoting our tournament at THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC and on their web site. HO and RED BOLE also furnished us with their data base of over 200 teams with names, e-mails and phone numbers we could contact about our tournament.”

 KEEFE and the SYLVANIA tournament might have needed help at the start but now they are not only running on their own, but also helping other SPA tournaments directors.

 In his marketing mailer about the SYLVANIA tournament, KEEFE also promotes THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC, COLUMBUS and other area SPA tournaments.

 Those tournaments are always promoting our tournament on newsletters, web sites and handouts at their tournament, so we do the same for them,” KEEFE explained, 'I have found if SPA area tournaments work together to promote each other, we all benefit.”

 The SYLVANIA League also has one of the best marketing tools in senior softball with their own web page at Lots of interesting articles, player profiles, current news and archives.

 However, it also has one of the best photo shoots in any senior web site. JOEL HANSON does a fantastic job with his pics on teams, individuals, sponsors, awards and such.

 Surprisingly, the one thing KEEFE is most proud of is not the tournament or the league but rather a special event put on by SYLVANIA LEAGUE COMMISIONER JAY SCHRAMM and members of the SYLVANIA SENIOR SOFTBALL LEAGUE.

 In MAY, SCHRAMM along with the league organization raised over $30,000 for the WOUNDED WARRIORS PROJECTS. It was done mainly through a triple header softball event featuring WOUNDED WARRIORS, SYLVANIA POLICE. SYLVANIA FIREMEN and SYLVANIA LEAGUE players among others.

 There was also a number of other fund raisers and activities.

 KEEFE and SCHRAMM both agree there should be more to senior softball then just wins and losses.

 With the creation of the SYLVANIA SENIOR SOFTBALL LEAGUE and the tournament, seniors have found an outlet to participate in an activity that they had previously given up on,” KEEFE summarized, “At SYLVANIA PACESETTER PARK, senior players have found their own “Field of Dreams”

 And you really couldn't ask for more.