SUN CITY – Bob Kennedy is one tough softball player.
At the Sun City Softball League’s opening ceremonies on May 14, he showed up at Eakin Field wearing shorts and a light jacket amid 45-degree temperatures and 20-mph wind.
“Maybe you’re trying to convince the weatherman he’s wrong,” one player joked.
The occasion was the opening of the league’s 2011 season, on a day more suited for football or staying inside. Despite the lousy conditions, however, opening day went off without a hitch, thanks to more than 100 players, league officials, sponsors, and village officials. There were no spectators in the stands, but everyone had a fine time anyway.
One player said, “I was in shorts yesterday (Friday) morning; by 5 p.m. I changed to a heavy jacket, and today it feels like winter.”
“I am from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and a Green Bay football fan,” said Les Zemba. “This is as good as it gets up there.”
“Yesterday, I saw an outfield fly change to an infield popup because of the wind,” said another player. And so it went as everyone laughed off the cold and wind in order to play their favorite sport.
Kennedy, President of the League, introduced his fellow board members – vice presidents Pat McKay, Tony Nicosia, and Fred Thomas; treasurer John Boyle; secretary Rick Quaid; and “technical guy” Don Keene, a bat-making expert. Sgt. Mike Hewitt of the Huntley Police threw out the first ball, deputy fire chief Keith Mallegni threw out the second and got on the microphone to wish the league well. Players from all 21 of the leaguer’s teams were on hand with representatives of their corporate sponsors. Sponsor representatives included Renee Swanson of Heritage Woods and Sheldon Clark of Edward Jones Financial, among others.
Kristen Rossini, McKay’s daughter, provided a musical highlight with a delightful rendition of the national anthem. All the players bravely removed their caps ands braved the wind during the music.
“We have three leagues and 235 players again this year,” Kennedy said. “The 16-inch evening league, which started competition last week, has 16 teams. The 16-inch day league has 4, and the 14-inch day league also has 4. They both start in June. They all play to Labor Day, when we have playoffs in the evening league.”
Sponsors provide more than $7,000 to the league by sponsoring one team each. Evening League sponsors are, in addition to Edward Jones and Heritage Woods, Century Dental, Huntley Eye Care, Bay Hill Dental, Veach Lawn Service, Binger Chiropractic, Moffett Therapy, Huntley Realty, Century 21, Peck Ford, State Farm’s Chad Radtke, Huntley Collision, Coyote Auto, Citizens Bank, Chris Lawn Service, Drendel’s Mobil, Castle Bank, and Huntley Travel.
This is Chicago-style, “Windy City” 16-inch softball with a Sun City twist – almost all the players use gloves.
Sun City’s Softball League – a testament to the notion that no matter how old you are, you can still shag flies and run (or jog or limp) around the bases.