30 YEARS OF PROGRESS

By Jack Tanguay

30 years ago, on a field situated on West Dell Webb where Freedom Plaza retirement home is today, nestled between a garden and the woods, a makeshift softball field was created out of a vacant lot and three teams started competing in what was to become the Sun City Center Softball league. 30 years later on a regulation diamond complete with bleachers, sound system, electronic scoreboard, first aid station umpires and statisticians, 8 teams form the Sun City Slow-pitch Softball league and two more teams’ play a regular schedule in the 70 and over Sarasota Regional League.

Between these two dates, 1980 and 2010 hundreds of players ranging in age from 55 to 85 have proven and continue to prove that they can excel! in a demanding sport usually better suited to younger generations.

These players come from all over the United States, Canada; South America and even Europe. They come from all walks of life. They are or were business men, engineers, CEOs, salesmen, policemen and firefighters, accountants, pilots medical doctors and nurses, teachers and heads of colleges, retired officers from the armed forces and journeymen. On the diamond they are all ball players judged solely on their skills, their sportsmanship and their love of the sport.

In the course of the next few months, we will try to follow the progress of the league through these years. We will get acquainted with some of the players and the fields where they played. We will meet the presidents of the league and their staff and how the organization advanced under their administration. We will get to know the coaches, the umpires, the community leaders and the sponsors who made it all possible.

The list of contributors to the writing of these articles is long and individual recognition is not possible. I seize this occasion to thank all those who helped make these musings a reality. The same situation applies to the participants in the game. Many will be mentioned and their stories related. Many more will not because of time and space constraints. Yet others have left us and are now playing in the big leagues in heaven.

To all past and present players I say thanks and congrats. To all future players, welcome, and if the next 30 years are anything like the first 30 ones You will not want to miss the action.

SOFTBALL PLAYING FIELDS

By Jack Tanguay

The first field where softball was played in SCC was situated east and North of the retirement home Freedom Plaza. The location was bordering on the garden and was called the Retired Officers’ Village.

Don Senk reports that he got permission to use this area from in the year. He then borrowed a bush whacker, cleared the field, burned the bushes and the grass, outlined a diamond and invited players “If you build it, they will come.”

At this first location there were no rest rooms, no bleachers, and no shade. Softball was played there for 11 years or until the site was sold by WCI to ROV for the construction of the retirement home Freedom Plaza.

This field was rudimentary at best and Bob Snyder reported at the time that” our players from SCC were embarrassed when teams from Sarasota, Venice or others come here to visit. These teams have regular softball fields with all the facilities.”

In 1986. The Community Association started talking about building a sport facility near the Community Hall. This facility could include tennis courts and softball field but it was not until 1991 that construction of the South Sport Complex was started. In the meantime, in 1992, the softball activities had to be moved, from their location on W Dell Webb to a new location in Ruskin.

In 1993 the field was ready and the teams finally moved to the brand new location near the Community Hall. Bill Van Dine and Don Senk raised in excess of 5000 dollars to build two dugouts and the new field was officially inaugurated in a ceremony where Bill Van Dine and Don Senk were presented a plaque by the league president Art Davidson. The softball field has been named since the Don Senk Softball Field. Where is this plaque?

Numerous improvements were done to the field in the following years. Bleachers were added, the infield was reworked, a fence was added in the outfield, a meeting room and storage for the equipment were also built.

The Travelers team was formed in 1984. First manager was Bill Van Dine.