NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – At a park in Pasco County, a batting bunch is swinging for fences. And the ball reaches the fences fairly frequently.
“I figured I would come out here and get a few swings in and run around a little bit,” said 74-year-old Randy Ruzicka.
W.H. Jack Mitchell, Jr., Park in New Port Richey hosts pickup softball games every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the year. The youngest players on the diamond are 50 years old. The oldest player is 84 years old.
“I want to play until I am 80 or 85,” 73-year-old Miguel Rodriguez told 8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley. “I see people play until they are 80 and I want to do that too.”
The ballplayers are living proof that age is only a number.
“I loved it since I was a little boy,” said Rodriguez. “I was always playing baseball.”
Rodriguez skips onto the softball field about four times every week. He started playing the sport in 1963, and he is still known for his speed.
“He runs like the wind,” said Ruzicka. “Probably one of the better outfielders at our age. And he is one of the pieces that make our team good.”
Ruzicka is referring to the Chadwell Supply team, a group of about 15 men in their mid-to-late 70s. They have won three major tournaments this year.
“We play together like a team. That is the main thing,” Rodriguez said of the team’s success.
“Everybody knows what everybody else does pretty much so everybody knows what their strong points and their weak points are,” added Ruzicka.
The weak points for Ruzicka are his knees, so he mainly sticks to the positions in the infield.
“I catch sometimes, I play third sometimes, I play middle infielder and different spots,” said Ruzicka.
Despite the aches and the pains, the cheering is constant across the board.
“If you stick around here and listen to what goes on here, it is funny,” said Ruzicka. “You do something silly batting – you know, that is it. Do you want to sell your bat for ten bucks or something like that, that is the kind of stuff you get.”
That element of fun mixed with a dash of friendly competition is truly the name of the game for this enthusiastic group.
What else could they need in the midst of a game? Ruzicka told us they need fans.
“That’s it! Come out and watch the games! It doesn’t cost you anything and you will get a big laugh out of it if nothing else,” said Ruzicka with a chuckle.
The next tournament for Chadwell Supply is the Florida State Senior Tournament on Aug. 3 in Leesburg, Florida.
News Channel 8 wishes the team well. We would also like to thank Sam Ferguson for sharing this story with us. Sadly, he was in the hospital when Gabrielle Shirley went to the field, but he is anxious to play in the upcoming tournament.