Senior softball a success across Baltimore metro area
As the slogan that once graced the home page of the Baltimore Beltway Senior Softball League once read: “Seniors don’t stop playing softball when they get old; they get old when they stopped playing softball.”
Or words to that affect. The slogan doesn’t seem to be on the website any longer. Must be an accidental deletion.
Senior softball (age 60 and over) thrives in the Baltimore metro area. The aforementioned Baltimore Beltway League usually has 20 teams in four divisionsm stretching from Harford County to Montgomery and Prince George’s County.
“Usually,” because like so many things in 2020, the league was a bit disrupted this season. Teams were left on their own to decide if they would play during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many teams joined other leagues. Several BBSSL teams banded together to form “mini-leagues” of their own, just to keep playing.
One such league included Dundalk, Perry Hall, Bowie, Glen Burnie, Catonsville and Kingsville. Lots of men in their 60’s and 70’s who just didn’t want to start getting old.
(Incidentally, the BBSSL league is co-ed. The women can start playing at age 50. Women players are rare, however.)
There are several rules differences in senior softball. Everyone can have a pinch-runner — even the batter (the runner lines up behind the catcher). It’s slow pitch, and strikes are called if the ball lands on the plate or an extension added to the back of the plate.
Batters start with the count 1-1.There are no plays at the plate; if the ball beats the runner to the catcher, the runner is out.
Each team has four infielders and four outfielders. The maximum number of runs a team can score in an inning is five — until the seventh inning, of course.
In the BBSSL, teams play doubleheaders on Monday nd Wednesday mornings starting at 10. Smoe rules — like the 1-1 count — are intended to get the games moving quickly.
(Another BBSSL rule: games are postponed if the temperature at game time is 98 degrees or higher.)
The Baltimore Beltway League (then called the Baltimore County Senior League) started in 1986 after its predecessor, MARVA (a Maryland-Virginia league) folded mainly due to traffic concerns.
Four teams moved from MARVA to the new league: Dundalk, Greenbelt, Howard County (now the Old Liners) and Montgomery County.
Other teams were Catonsville and Parkville.
Back then the teams played nine-inning games, with no umpires (and no balls or strikes called) and a maximum of 10 runs an inning.
The Montgomery team dropped out in 1990, and a second Howard County team (Howard Reds) was added.
The league added and dropped teams over the decades until arriving at its current 20 teams. The league was inducted into the Maryland Slow-Pitch Softball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Teams usually play a 44game schedule starting the third week of April (this year the teams that decided to play started in July) and plays through the end of August.
That includes a doubleelimination postseason tournament for each division (A, B, C, and D).
The five teams in Division A are considered to be the strongest teams: Howard Reds, Old Liners, Carroll Gray, Howard Shockers and Dundalk.
The Howard Reds have owned the division title the past several years. Dundalk set a league record in 2014, becoming the first team in league history to finish the season unbeaten (49-0).
(For those wondering: there have been no reports of COVID-19 infections among the players of the teams in the “mini-league where Dundalk plays.)
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, senior softball teams like Dundalk and Perry Hall continue to play.