Saturday, November 17, 2018
Text Size

20180315 US Canada Senior Softball MILLER IMG 5279Larry Boggs stood up, dressed in his patriotic red, white and blue shirt and shorts, held the megaphone (more like a miniphone) to his mouth and made one of several announcements.”

“Today’s official attendance is 10,682,” said Boggs, whose goatee resembled that of Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs – but there was no relation, Larry Boggs said. “Thank you all for your attendance.”

Obviously, Boggs, who lives in Branson, Mo., but stays at Chimney Park in Mission during the winter, was being a bit optimistic – just overestimating by a little more than 10,200 – but that wasn’t the point. The crowd laughed – and that was the point of the entire day during the annual US-Canada Senior Softball games held at Westside Park in McAllen on March 8.

“This is entertaining and fun and everybody is all excited,” said Milly Laux who, along with her husband Larry have come to the games for the past three years. “It’s a friendly competition with lots of laughs and we get to see a lot of our friends, and make new ones.”

20180315 US Canada Senior Softball MILLER IMG 5270Three games were scheduled for the day, led off by the Competitive Division’s U.S. versus Canada matchup, won by the U.S. team in a rout this year. The U.S. had just a little too much firepower for Team Canada to keep up with, including slugger Vance Freeman. During one at-bat the outfield positioned themselves so deep that when he ripped a shot to centerfield, they were able to hold it to a single. The next time up, however, Freeman crushed a ball that at first looked like it would leave the ballpark. Instead, it dropped just a couple feet before the outfield fence and he ended up with an easy triple. Freeman ended up getting walked once and going 3-for-3 at the plate. It was his first time in the U.S. Canada game, just finishing off the Senior League, and being part of the championship team, the day before.

“That triple felt pretty good – if it wasn’t for my injured knee and pulled muscle in the other leg, it would’ve been an inside the park home run,” said Freeman, who is from Lawrence, Kansas and winters at Alamo Palms RV Park. “This was a lot of fun. The guys on my team were absolutely terrific and there were five guys on the other team that we played against yesterday so they were giving me a hard time – that was fun.”

Freeman said he had been playing baseball/softball for 43 years now but not in school, even though he was clearly an athlete. He did receive scholarship offers, however, to run cross country and track but went into the working world instead – and he’s glad to be here now instead of back home.

“I’d be back home shoveling snow and fixing toilets,” said Freeman, adding he would be working part time at an apartment complex if he was home. “I’d be freezing my butt off. I love it here.”

During the game in the background, Boggs continued with his announcements – at one point encouraging the three sets of bleachers, filled with people carrying or wearing U.S. or Canada flags – some with both ¬¬– to start the wave. In between some innings there were sack races and hula hoop competitions.

Later in the day a “non-competitive” matchup was scheduled to take place as well as a game between the U.S. and Texas. Ed Martens, who has organized the event for several years, walked from dugout to dugout – as the “Competitive” game was coming to a close, the Leisure group was about to start.

Martens emphasized that sometimes it’s difficult to keep the competitive nature tamed down a little bit and the key is having fun. Still, winning and having fun do go hand in hand – especially when that competitive spirit is leading the way.

20180315 US Canada Senior Softball MILLER IMG 5303“Sometimes we've had some people who are just a little too competitive,” said Martens, who played baseball most of his life before the transition to softball. “Our goal really is to have a good time and show how much fun it is to be able to play and have the fellowship.”

“My husband’s warming up right now,” said Darlene Neel, from Tinley Park, Ill., and a Bentsen Grove Resort resident is Mission. “We are from Illinois but he’s playing for Canada since they didn’t have enough players. That’s why I have dual flags.”

Fans entered the park and were greeted by one of four ladies – Judy McHugo, Lee Watts, Fayeth Witkowski or Brenda Lane – who offered a flag for whichever team the fan was cheering for...until they ran out of U.S. flags and had only Canada flags remaining.

“My husband plays and he looks forward to this from June until we get here,” Watts said. “He loves playing softball and he loves being able to do it all year.”

The game signals the end of the Senior Texan Softball League season, following the league’s championship games. The league is open to Winter Texans and locals alike and Martens wanted to make sure to let people know that if anyone’s interested in being part of the league next season that they can give him a call at 956-581-2254. “We are blessed to be able to keep playing this sport,” Martens said. “And we have different levels so everyone can enjoy it.”

The Fall season goes from Nov. 1 to Jan. 5 and the Winter League begins Jan. 6 and goes through approximately March 8.

  • All
  • Border
  • Charity
  • Free Health Care
  • Groceries
  • Grocery Stores
  • HEB
  • Immigration
  • Mission
  • Operation Lonestar
  • Ribbon Cutting
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Sharyland
  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
load more hold SHIFT key to load all load all