In Sports Commentary

For all sorts of reasons, guys come out to play ball in Rock League Baseball.

Take a swing at Rock League Baseball

Another season of Rock League Baseball kicks off Saturday, March 11, with open tryouts in four divisions of adult wooden bat baseball leagues. These tryouts – players should bring their own baseball gear and shoes for an indoor workout – will take place at Pius XI High School, 135 N. 76th St., in the main gym.

The times and minimum age requirements are as follows:

  • 45-plus: 11 a.m.
  • 35-plus: 12 p.m.
  • 28-plus: 1 p.m.
  • 18-plus: 2 p.m.

The Rock Sports Complex has four MLB replica fields that are used for adult leagues, those of Philadelphia, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Boston. Yes, Fenway's Green Monster is there, and yes, everyone tries to hit titanic blasts over it all summer. The infields are designed with synthetic turf for ideal drainage, and they eliminate the "bad hop" excuse used to explain away an infield error. The quad complex also features covered dugouts and bat racks for maximum comfort and playing enjoyment. When slipping on a uniform and jogging out to a position, it has the feel of a Fantasy Camp experience at a sliver of the cost.

Four years ago, a former high school teammate recruited me to play in a 28-plus baseball league at The Rock Sports Complex. He had just finished playing a season and loved everything about it. I said no at that time, but he persisted, and the following winter I said yes. It remains one of the best decisions I have ever made, and one that continues to yield rewards to this day.

Playing baseball at The Rock Sports Complex has changed my life. It's a rewarding activity that forced me to get into better shape and has, hopefully, allowed me to extend the length and quality of life with my family. I've made some great friendships while managing to find a hobby that I truly enjoy. After one season, I was hooked and promptly joined an additional 35-plus team the following year.

I initially struggled mightily to get back into baseball form and had many humbling disappointments along the way. However, I improved in my third year and was selected by my teammates to be on the all-star team. Looking back, the only thing I regret in the entire process is waiting 20 years to play baseball again with the guys.

When the actual games take place, there is a wide range of talent on the field. On one squad, I have a teammate, as well as several opponents, that played professionally for many years. Yet on another, I have teammates that didn't even play high school baseball. In fact, one of those players is among the best hitters in the entire league! How does that happen?

While my teammate Scott loved baseball, he was busy working in high school and didn't have time to play the game. Years of softball failed to scratch his competitive itch, so he decided to give baseball another try. Now, 17 years later, he's still playing the game at a very high and successful level. He treasures the lifelong relationships he has built with people in a wide range of backgrounds. I asked him if he had any regrets over the years. "None at all," he said. "I'm grateful that I'm able to play the game I love, even at an advancing age."

While everyone of different skill levels comes for the baseball, they all seem to stay for the camaraderie. They love playing the game, talking trash in the dugout, playfully mocking the mistakes of teammates and celebrating afterwards with Jimmy at The Umbrella Bar. While overlooking the entire complex, teams can enjoy post-game sponsorship beers while ordering a DiMaggios Pizza. It's the perfect setting to rehash what went right or wrong, while spending time with teammates that often become brothers over time.

On days throughout the week at The Rock Sports Complex, grown men still play a children's game. While technically past their prime, they play for reasons like competition and exercise. But the biggest reason they play through sore limbs and bad backs is because they have an unquenchable love for the game of baseball. If this sounds like you and you want to get back into the dugout and see if there's anything left to offer, please consider attending the RLB tryouts at Milwaukee Pius High School on Saturday. I'm living proof that you won't regret it.


Talkbacks

eheinzelman | March 10, 2017 at 9:07 a.m. (report)

I am about to start my 24th season...I used to play two age divisions, but this year and last I am sticking with just the 60+.

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