LONGTIME SENIOR TEAM WINS SPA 75 WORLDS
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.”