WALLINGFORD — As the Jack Doyle Senior Softball League prepares for its championship games this week, the roughly 160 participants continue to prove that age is just a number.
Now in its 19th season, players from 60 to 84 years old take the field on Mondays and Wednesdays to stay alive in the playoffs, but more importantly, to express their lifelong love for the game.
“It’s a lot of fun,” league commissioner Harry Fazio said. “At our age, we’re just lucky we’re out here playing.”
The 2018 season has been another celebration of the league’s growth since it was founded by the late Jack Doyle in 1999. Once a four team league, the number grew to eight last year. Another influx of players looking to defy their age boosted the number up to 10 teams this season.
The league may be based in Wallingford, but has players from all over the state.
“Out of 160 players, maybe only 40 are from Wallingford,” Fazio said. “We have players from Vernon, West Haven, Trumbull and Waterbury. But everyone knows everyone.”
Gene McLean, who at almost 84 is the oldest player in the league and a 14-year veteran, has played for almost every team in the league. After playing softball in New York, West Virginia and North Carolina, he embraces the unique opportunity to keep his playing career alive in Wallingford.
“I love it,” McLean said. “I’ve played for almost every team here. It’s a bunch of nice guys.”
McLean is one of the remaining players still chasing the medals handed out to each year’s playoff champion. The regular season champs, the Braves, have already earned their medals for a first place finish after the 42-game season that began back in April. The remaining teams still relish the opportunity to enjoy a game they never want to stop playing, but just like their love for the game, their competitive edge has not wavered.
“It’s competitive out there,” Fazio said. “Everyone’s out to win, no matter their age.”