Western Mass Relics a home run for over-50 men’s softball players

June 20, 2022 | Dennis Hackett

LUDLOW – Tucked away at the Ludlow Fish and Game Club, the crack of bats and the smell of fresh cut grass fill the air as the Western Massachusetts Relics senior league play slow-pitch softball several nights a week throughout the summer.

Public Relations Chairman Steve Lepow said the league offers a unique opportunity for seniors in Western Massachusetts.

“We are the only senior softball league in Western Mass. We have two divisions, the Silver Division, which is players 50 and older, and the Gold Division, which is for players 65 and up,” he said.

Lepow added that players can continue to play in the Silver Division after they turn 65, so long as they are physically able to keep up with the younger players. The divisions also have separate times for games, with most Gold Division games starting at 4 p.m. and Silver Division games starting at 5:45 p.m. or 7 p.m.

Overall, there are 220 players across the two divisions with seven teams in the Silver Division and six teams in the Gold Division. “We draw from 40 towns, from Pittsfield to West Brookfield,” Lepow said.

Some of those towns include Belchertown, Chicopee, Longmeadow, Ludlow, South Hadley, Springfield, Westfield and Wilbraham.

Each year Lepow said the season kicks off with a jamboree, typically on the last Saturday in April, during which each team plays a three-inning game while refreshments and hot dogs are free for any spectators. The season then runs through the middle of August before the playoffs begin.

“For the playoffs every team makes it in, and the way it is set up, the number one team in each division gets a first-round bye and the number three team plays the number six team while teams four and five face each other,” Lepow said.

Gold Division Internal Chairman Tim Harty said the Relics are a volunteer organization between the groundskeepers, the umpires and the board.

Lepow said as a nonprofit, all money raised by the Relics go back into the field.

“All of the money goes to improvements; in the past we have been able to put up a new scoreboard and a new infield. Before the infield we have now it was almost a clay type field and we had to drag the field to smooth it out during the season,” he said.

One way the Relics try to raise money is through its banner program, where businesses can purchase banner space on the outfield fence to advertise. Each banner costs $350 to be posted on the field for two seasons. If the business decides to provide their own banner, the cost is $200.

Along with the regular season, Lepow said the Relics also offer tournament teams and will be playing in several tournaments this summer including ones in Connecticut, Rhode Island and out on Cape Cod for one of the biggest tournaments of the year.

“I coach and play on the 75 and over team,” Lepow said. “In September we will be playing in the Cape Cod Classic, which is a three-day tournament and teams from New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and all over compete and the winners get an invite to the national tournament in March.”

Harty shared that the original motto of the Relics is “You don’t get too old to play; you get old when you stop playing.”

Registration for the Relics opens in January each year, participants are required to pay a $40 fee and are accepted on a first come, first serve basis.

More information about the Relics is available online at https://www.westernmassrelics.org/westernmassrelics/Home.

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