Ron Ramsden is looking forward to the first chance to make a big play on the diamonds at Verona Community Park.
“The challenge of making that double play, or catching a hot grounder or running and making a catch in the outfield, throwing people out; there’s all kinds of personal achievements that we all are looking for,” Ramsden told the Press. “I guess just to prove to ourselves we’re not as old as the years say we are.”
He’ll have his chance beginning May 2, when the Greater Madison Senior Softball League begins its slow-pitch games in Verona. The league, which began in 2010, offers the opportunity for men aged 55 and up to play softball and get some exercise.
They also, Ramsden stressed, get a chance to build camaraderie among the more than 200 players that will take part this year.
“It’s friendly and happy,” he said of the atmosphere. “It’s a social thing.”
The league has four divisions this year, with an “A” and “B” league for 55-plus players with games on Wednesdays, a league for men 65 and older playing Thursdays and an open league on Thursdays for anyone looking to get in an extra game.
Ramsden said around 15 players are signed up for three of the leagues, and around 60 for two.
“One of the goals has been to give everybody the opportunity to play as much ball as they want,” he said.
The games will be played at 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. both days, and Ramsden said spectators are welcome – there will be concessions, too, he added.
The league initially began at Goodman Park in Madison, moved to Bowling Green Recreation Center in Middleton and now is heading to Verona for the first time.
“We’re pretty much out of options,” Ramsden said of the dwindling number of fields available.
The majority of the players on the 22 teams – up from the six the league began with in 2010 – are from Madison, but Ramsden said players come from all over Dane County and places as far as New Glarus, Barneveld, Darlington and Jefferson.
Each team has about 14 players on their roster, and 11 are on the field at a time for defense, though the entire roster bats during the 9-inning games, which Ramsden said are competitive but focused on the opportunity to exercise and build camaraderie.
“This is social first,” he said. “When these people know these people and they’ve been fighting each other for 40 years on the ball field … there is rivalry amongst some of the teams, because they have that long history.”
He hopes more men over 55 who love softball join in the coming years, because it offers “people their last fling at it.”