Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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20181227 Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6593Ed Martens was laid up in a hospital bed in Manila, capital of the Philippines, with some type of blood poisoning. His Air Force baseball team had just played the final regular-season game and he was excited to rejoin them the following week for the first round of the playoffs.
Those hopes were dashed as soon as his hospital doctor walked into his room to give him an update.

“The guys wanted me to play and I was in the hospital for 10 days and missed that one Sunday,” Martens said. “The doctor, though, refused to let me go.”

That was more than 55 years ago and today Martens is still involved in the diamond, not as a player but for the past 25 years as the coordinator of the South Texas Senior Texan Softball League.

20181227 Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6603Today, the League has players from 27 RV and mobile home parks, 23 states and most of the Canadian provinces. The league began playing in Mission – at three different locations – before moving to Edinburg and, finally to their current home at Westside Park in McAllen, located at 1000 S. Ware Road, across from the McAllen Convention Center. Bentsen Grove Resort has the largest number of participants from a single park and is called the league’s headquarters.

Now, Martens is making his rounds, promoting the league around the Valley and looking for players.

“As the years go by, we lose some players and gain new ones – but we are always looking for more who want to play and have fun,” said Martens, a Minnesota native. “It doesn’t matter what level they play, or if they’ve played before, we have a league, a level, that will fit them. This is our 25th year so we want to have a large number to commemorate it.”

The highlights of the season include playoffs for each division and the U.S.-Canada game, which draws 300-plus fans, cheering, dressed in U.S. and Canadian garb, and waving flags and banners.

The Winter League begins Jan. 3 and runs through the first week of March, ending with the end of year banquet. The league is open to Winter Texans and local residents alike, ages 55 and older. Cost is $60 per player and includes the season and the banquet. First-time players don’t have to register for a week, being able to have a chance to try it out.

Call Martens at (956) 581-2254 for more information.

20181227 Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6635Martens, who played baseball at the University of Wichita, still remembers that time in Manila as if it was yesterday. Some of the players on the team were part of the hospital group. The day of the game, they walked in, gathered Martens’ clothes from the locker, went to where he was and helped him “unofficially get a discharge” for the game.

“I had been lying in bed for 10 days and my legs were a little weak,” he said. “But I wanted to play and they wanted me to play.”

Martens had two singles on the day and was called on for a squeeze play. “I just hoped that I got the sign right,” he said. “You don’t want to call for time at that point, it’ll give it away.”

The next day, Martens was back laying in his hospital bed. His clothes were back in the locker and it looked as if everything was clear.
Then the doctor walked in.

20181227 Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6693“He said he listened to the game on military radio and heard my name on it,” Martens said. “He was ready to court martial me.”

Fortunately, a colonel by the name of Frank Borman put in a good word to the military doctor and Martens escaped discipline.

“Eight years later, Frank Borman got into the space program and went to the moon,” Martens said. “I’m just glad he was still on earth that day.”

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