Curt Mecklenburg has competition flowing through his veins. It’s a part of his DNA. From swimming to softball to card games he is fierce, but friendly.
“I’m also a poor loser,” the Minnesota native joked. “But competition is good.”
But that competition is also enjoyable for him, a way of life since at a young age, and one of the most enjoyable times is when Mecklenburg and others from different branches of the military get together for infield and batting practice as they prepare for the second All-Veterans Senior Softball game set for Saturday, Nov. 13 at Brewster Elementary in Linn, Texas.
The concept was born out of an idea by Army veteran Fred Esqueda. A Mission native, Esqueda saw a call for softball players in the newspaper one day. After calling for more information, he found out that he would not be able to play because he was still working, and games were taking place during the day.
“As soon as I retired, though, at age 62 I called right away and signed up to be in the senior league,” he said. “I signed up right away and now it’s been 11 years that I’ve been playing. I really enjoy it. The friendships, the camaraderie and just having fun playing ball.
“I was just sitting around and was wondering if I could get enough people to have two full softball teams and we did it.”
Esqueda said he is still looking for veterans to fill out the two squads that will face each other at 9 a.m. on game day and the winner will play a second game against a non-veteran team. Requirements include being 55 and older and be a veteran. Those who are interested can call Esqueda at (956) 897-6961.
“Two years ago, we started slow but by the time game day came we had enough to put a full 14 players on each team,” Esqueda said. “We have some guys who can hit the ball out of the park.”
But you don’t have to be a slugging all-star to be a part of the fun that will take place at Brewster Elementary. Esqueda said everyone is thankful that the school and the community invited them to have an all-veterans softball game and he’s hopeful that the event will become an annual one.
Mecklenburg, who has lived in Sharyland Villas, has been playing softball for 23 years, many of those years as a pitcher. Born in Washington, but raised in Minnesota, Mecklenburg was in the Air Force for four years as a tower operator and working with radar. After the military, he went into teaching for 26 years before creating his own business – taking care of homeowner’s properties along some of the beautiful Minnesota lakes.
“I liked the diversity of it and I’m pretty good with my hands,” he said after doing some infield practice at Westside Park in McAllen. “The good thing was I had three kids and during their high school years they all worked with me. We would, for example, finish putting shingles on a roof, then we’d go to the homeowner’s dock, jump in and cool off. It was a good time.”
Mecklenburg spends six months in the Valley and six months back north. He said he enjoys everything that takes place at the Sharyland Villas.
“I like to use the pool and I like to play cards, pretty much everything,” he said. “I took a class once where the teacher was anti-competition, and I was the only competitive one in the class.
“I ended up with a D in that class.”
For more information on the All-Veterans Softball Game, call Fred Esqueda at (956) 897-6961.