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Its a different ball game for those on the back side of 50
Senior Softball-Pic 1a
Ron Macelroy of the California Classics keeps his eye on the ball during a Manteca Senior Games event Tuesday at Big League Dreams. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
The list of ailments that afflicted some of those who took the field Tuesday morning and afternoon for the first day of softball of the Manteca Senior Games at Big League Dreams was long.

Hip replacements. Knee replacements. General arthritis.

But for John Crane – who manages The Olden Bears that don a uniform sporting the same colors of their much younger Berkeley counterparts – it’s just being out on the field that makes the entire experience worthwhile.

While he can no longer run the bases, Crane still has that same fire that burned when he was in his 20s – five members of the team are 70-years or older – and it makes for a much more different game than the one he used to play as a kid.

“Our minds are in our 20s, but our bodies just aren’t moving that fast,” Crane said. “It can be frustrating sometimes, and there can be lots of variables, but the one thing that a lot of these guys never lost was the love of the game itself.”

The Manteca Senior Games – which started officially on Saturday with a torch relay from Del Webb all the way to the BMX Park – is now in its second year thanks to the efforts of the Convention and Visitors Bureau who put all of the pieces together. The competition is open to those 50 and older. Altogether, between individuals and teams, almost 500 people are participating in this year’s Senior Games.

In addition to softball, seniors have already had the opportunity to compete in a BMX competition and are gearing up for “pickleball” – one of the unique games that were the biggest draw last year.

A track and field competition will be held on Saturday, May 15, at the recently completed Sierra High School all-weather track surface.

While Mayor Willie Weatherford said he would have liked to have seen more softball teams signed up – like the 300 he’ll face when he travels to Utah later this year – he was pleased with the outcome of the event, and the general atmosphere amongst the players.

“I think that right now with this beautiful complex we’re slowly building this up to have a lot more teams in the future,” Weatherford said. “It has progressed a lot over last year, and I think that the CVB deserves a lot of credit for putting everything together the way that they did.”