30 YEARS OF PROGRESS

By Jack Tanguay

30 years ago, on a field situated on West Dell Webb where Freedom Plaza retirement home is today, nestled between a garden and the woods, a makeshift softball field was created out of a vacant lot and three teams started competing in what was to become the Sun City Center Softball league. 30 years later on a regulation diamond complete with bleachers, sound system, electronic scoreboard, first aid station umpires and statisticians, 8 teams form the Sun City Slow-pitch Softball league and two more teamsí play a regular schedule in the 70 and over Sarasota Regional League.

Between these two dates, 1980 and 2010 hundreds of players ranging in age from 55 to 85 have proven and continue to prove that they can excel! in a demanding sport usually better suited to younger generations.

These players come from all over the United States, Canada; South America and even Europe. They come from all walks of life. They are or were business men, engineers, CEOs, salesmen, policemen and firefighters, accountants, pilots medical doctors and nurses, teachers and heads of colleges, retired officers from the armed forces and journeymen. On the diamond they are all ball players judged solely on their skills, their sportsmanship and their love of the sport.

In the course of the next few months, we will try to follow the progress of the league through these years. We will get acquainted with some of the players and the fields where they played. We will meet the presidents of the league and their staff and how the organization advanced under their administration. We will get to know the coaches, the umpires, the community leaders and the sponsors who made it all possible.

The list of contributors to the writing of these articles is long and individual recognition is not possible. I seize this occasion to thank all those who helped make these musings a reality. The same situation applies to the participants in the game. Many will be mentioned and their stories related. Many more will not because of time and space constraints. Yet others have left us and are now playing in the big leagues in heaven.

To all past and present players I say thanks and congrats. To all future players, welcome, and if the next 30 years are anything like the first 30 ones You will not want to miss the action.

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