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Baseball After 40
I was kind of in a writing mood tonight and thought I would talk a little bit about playing baseball at the age of forty and beyond. We caught a bit of a break from the cold weather here in Western New York, which always turns my mind to baseball.

I’m sixty-three, and have been playing organized baseball since I was seven. I took the usual path from Little League to High School, and then on to College ball. There was a little lull in the action as I entered the work force. I played (dare I say it) fast pitch softball with some of the guys I worked with for a few years. After I was married and moved from Buffalo I played a little modified softball. There I said it. I played softball.
Then in 1992 I went back to my old stomping grounds in Buffalo, NY every weekend and played baseball again for a season. I pitched and played the outfield and along the way found my old hitting stroke. It was a great experience, and I fell in love with baseball once again. Not that I ever fell out of love with it. The next year I started an MSBL League here in Fredonia, NY and have played ever since. So there is the background.

The question I get asked all the time is "how can you still play at your age and remain competitive?" Well I am here to tell you that I’m not the only one my age playing competitive baseball. I have been fortunate enough to play in senior tournaments around the country, and you would be absolutely amazed at the talent that is out there. I will admit that we can’t run like we used to, and our arms may not be as strong as they once were, but son of a gun old guys can hit the snot out of the ball. There are also some guys that can still burn up the base paths. Still some pitchers in their upper fifty’s throwing 80 mph. If you have played in the MSBL World Series you know what I’m talking about. The point is, it can and is being done. How do they do it?

First of all let me say it’s not easy. It takes a great deal of work, desire and mental toughness to remain competitive at our age. You must hit the weight room, stretch, throw, hit, and run on a regular basis. Do the best you can to eat the right kind of food, and get plenty of rest. After all of that, you must then realize that things almost always hurt throughout the course of the season.I really can’t remember the last time I played a game and felt physically 100%. The biggest mistake players make, is to pick up a ball for the first time in May and step on the field two weeks later for their first game. This is a serious injury waiting to happen. I still pitch, which is tough on a body.  I had both knees replaced seven years ago. I had my knees done in December and was throwing BP to my High School Baseball team in April. The doctor told me I would not be able to run with knee replacements and certainly never pitch again. I sent him a picture of me on the mound during the MSBL World series and told him thanks for keeping me in the game. He actually hung it on his office wall.

This brings me to a very good point. It is vitally important that you find a doctor who is on the same page. I don’t want a doctor telling me not to play. I want a doctor who is going to help me play. A good chiropractor and masseuse are also a must. Then of course there is ibuprofen; the nectar of the gods. Seriously, you need a little medicinal help, but getting carried away with pain pills and the like is no way to go. There are no shortcuts.  Pain is there for a reason.  It should be a guide.

For every story like mine there are hundreds more. I get so inspired when I see these guys play. Not many people would understand why someone would put themselves through all of this. Well if you play ball you know exactly why. I could never explain it to someone who is not involved in the game. I am passionate about the game, and my competitive juices just keep flowing. It is great incentive to stay in shape, and the social aspect is second to none. I have met and become friends with more people in the last twenty years thanks to baseball than I ever thought possible. So there you have it. Just a short little piece that was floating around in my head. I started my serious baseball workouts last month, and hope to pick up where I left off when our season starts in April. I’m not sure how much longer I can remain competitive, but if I feel I can help my team I will be there for them.

Yours in Baseball,
Charlie LaDuca
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