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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • You're Never Too Old for the National Pastime!

  • The local over-50 baseball league is flourishing on weekends in Hawley and Newfoundland.
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  • The clicking of cleats on the concrete of the dugout floor and the crack of a wooden bat as it connects with a fastball mingles with the faint roar of jet-ski engines coming from the lake on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
    Graduation at Wallenpaupack Area High School was two days prior, school's out, and varsity baseball closed out its season a week or so ago.
    But, that doesn't mean the diamond on the shore of the Big Lake takes a break.
    One group of players can be found swinging the wood and hurling heaters every Sunday: the Pocono Mountain Adult Baseball League.
    Never Say Die!
    The league, comprised of four teams, is open to men and women ages 48 and up, although in order to pitch, a player must be at least 50 years old.
    Donnie Pettit, at age 75, is a regular starter for one team, the Highlanders, so would-be pitchers who join the league at 48 and wait two seasons to start throwing can continue to do so for quite some time, as demonstrated by Pettit.
    One player who finally was old enough to play this season is Anthony Dalessio from Hemlock Farms.
    "A friend of mine told me about this seven years ago and I've been waiting a long time in order to be able to play," the Red Storm rookie said.
    "It was the first time in my adult life that I wanted to be older!"
    Dalessio never played organized baseball either. Growing up he played a lot of stickball and playground softball before moving into some recreational league softball.
    "This is harder and tougher than softball," he continued. "I didn't think there would be this much running, but it's a lot of fun. There's a lot of nice, friendly people here."
    Page 2 of 3 - Prior to playing this season, Dalesssio spent a few seasons volunteering from week to week with the league as an extra umpire.
    For someone who wants to learn how to be an umpire watching the bases and plays in the field, this league is a good place to do just that.
    The Highlanders' Mike Petrocine is another first-year player in the league.
    The Beach Lake resident is having a good time with is new hobby.
    "This is a lot of fun," he related. "And, it helps to keep me healthy."
    A former softball player, he noted that this experience is much different.
    "I was used to the arc from the softball pitch and it took some time to get used to the low drop of the baseball, not to mention the baseball is a lot smaller, he said"
    Come Join Us
    The league is always looking for more players.
    This year there are approximately five newcomers.
    Each team averages between 13-15 players and due to personal commitments and the inevitable injuries that come with age, more players to boost the rosters are always welcome.
    The annual fee for the league is $45, which covers umpire fees and new game balls.
    Players furnish their own uniforms (either for their own team or that of their favorite ball club, both are acceptable) and equipment. Wood bats are mandatory as well.
    Bunting and stealing are not allowed in the league. Each game is slated for nine innings but there is a five-run cap for each team per inning in order to keep the game moving along.
    Page 3 of 3 - "You don't have to be talented to play," said Stan Orzeck.
    It's his seventh year in the league and he offered some insight for prospective players.
    While some pitchers are tougher than others, everyone is there to have a good time.
    "No one should have to worry about not being able to hit well," he added.
    "Almost everyone gets hits. The feel and sound of the wood bat is also something different. Anyone who wants to check out what we do can stop by any Sunday. We play games at 11am and at 2pm."
    Questions can also be directed to League Commissioner, Bruce Krejmas at 570-296-8583.
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