Senior baseball club a hit with local residents
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Lou Lawrence was all smiles as he strolled to first base on a hot Saturday morning.
The 76-year-old Midwest City man hit safely for the second time in the game. He reached safely first with a bunt single and later on a bloop hit to right field.
“That second one, I just stuck my bat out there and got a hit,” Lawrence said. “We’re just out here playing and having fun.”
Lawrence, who plays in competitive senior baseball tournaments, was one of nearly 40 men that plays in a new senior baseball club. The Oklahoma City Senior Baseball Club, which includes players from across the metro, meets every Saturday morning at the former Del Crest Middle School, 4731 Judy Dr. in Del City, for a game of baseball. The league is open for those ages 60 and over.
Baseball has a special place in the hearts of many on the field. They grew up playing baseball as children and cheering for the likes of Oklahoma native Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
“Baseball never leaves you,” said Paul Martin, who helped found the club and coaches one of the teams.
Many of the players came together through adult softball leagues. Martin and Gary Hamner played together in a softball league in Midwest City. Hamner pitched the idea to Martin, who also plays in competitive senior league baseball tournaments.
“He [Martin] plays in a tournament in Arizona every year and we had been talking about starting a club here,” Hamner said.
After a few phone calls, they rounded up enough players – many who also play in adult softball leagues in Midwest City.
Jerry Maynard, a former Midwest City Council member who now lives in Tuttle, played softball with many of the guys. He was intrigued at playing baseball again.
“I played baseball as a kid and wondered if I could still hit it,” he said. “I came out to their practice last year and had a lot of fun. I really enjoy the fellowship with the guys.”
They started playing games late last summer at Little Axe High School. This spring, the club wanted a more central location. Mid-Del Schools agreed to let them use the field as long as they handled all the field maintenance and provided their own insurance.
Getting the field in shape was no easy task. It had been unused since the school closed in May 2020. Much of the field including the dirt infield had been overgrown with weeds. After a couple of months of hard work, the diamond was ready for action.
“I came out here before and looked at the field. I told Paul [Martin] that this was our field of dreams – when it was a cornfield,” Hamner said. “They had been mowing the outfield but the whole infield was weeds. It took us about two months to get the field playable.”
Among the recent additions was David Baker, of Mustang. He played baseball at a young age but switched to softball as an adult. He played on as many as five softball teams between church, recreational and competitive leagues.
“I’m still in the process of trying to relearn to play baseball again,” he said. “I’m playing shortstop and the ball is smaller, my glove is too big and the throws are further than in softball.”
Mike Clark, a Midwest City native and former wrestling coach, also plays in the league.
The club plays a seven-inning game every Saturday morning. The game starts about 9 a.m. with a ceremonial first pitch and the playing of the National Anthem.
The club currently has two teams. The rosters can change from week to week as they balance out the players to create an even competition. They are hoping to attract enough players to add another team or two.
Hamner said he’s not surprised by the level of interest or talent on the field.
“A lot of us have been playing softball for years, but we grew up with baseball,” he said. “And this is a pretty competitive group. No one is happy when they lose.”
For more information about the Oklahoma City Senior Baseball Club, please contact Gary Hamner at (405) 203-4391.