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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Olde Tymers Softball League celebrates 20 yrs.

Dagsboro, Delaware-based group draws many players from Worcester County area

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor (Oct. 12, 2017)

The Olde Tymers Softball League of Delmarva marked its 20th year this season, as players 55 years of age and over took the field in a full schedule of contests from May through August. The idea for the league, now based in Dagsboro, Delaware, came about when a small group of players got together in 1997 to practice for an appearance in the Delaware Senior Olympics. The group of 11 men, who called themselves the Slower Sussex Retreads, won a gold medal that year. One year later, Roger Howard and Gary Meredith met with a few dozen other players in Bethany Town Hall to organize a slow-pitch softball group, and the Olde Tymers Softball League was born. Three teams were formed and the first games were played that June, and a fourth team was added before the end of the season. Today, the league boasts about 160 players on 13 teams. Bo Wood, the current league president, played in the NFL for two years on the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. Games are played on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from May through August, on fields owned by the Dagsboro Church of God. A double-elimination tournament starts in September. “They donated the land, but these guys built the fields, the fences, the dugouts – everything,” Harry Gowl said. “It’s a quid-pro-quo arrangement, where the school uses the fields for their school teams – baseball and a softball, with two fields – and we use it on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s a serendipitous relationship.” Gowl, an Ocean Pines resident, plays infield and manages the Fox’s Pizza Den team. He also serves as an umpire and is a past vice president of the league. He’s been involved for about seven years. “I had the honor of managing the last-place team this year,” Gowl said with a laugh. “I think I won eight or nine games [out of 32].” An NFL-style draft, held every spring, determines the team rosters. Managers get three minutes to make each selection. Players are rated, on a scale of one to five in four categories: running, hitting, throwing and fielding. Those ratings are updated, by a pool of managers, at the conclusion of each season. Gowl said it’s not unusual for players to argue their case – to be rated lower. “The draft order is decided by the lowest rating of the manager and the assistant manager, so everybody is arguing down,” he said. “But I think that’s what makes the league work. It’s a mixed bag [on each team] and everybody goes back in the hopper every year.” Dick Mullins, another Ocean Pines resident, has played for nine years and also previously served as league vice president. This year he played outfield for the Atlantic Orthopedics team. Mullins formerly played on the Ocean Pines Senior Softball team, but a lack of organization – and other teams to play – caused him to look elsewhere. “A lot of times we couldn’t even play games – all we did was play each other,” he said. “We’d have batting practice and that was all we could do. It was frustrating.” Eventually, John Shemenski and Joel Feinstein, two of the organizers in Ocean Pines, recruited Mullins to play in the Olde Tymers league. The league has evolved over its two decades, with improvements being made each year. Gowl remembers playing an infield essentially made of sand during his first season. “There was no such thing as a true hop,” he said. “One game [at third base], I got eight balls – four of them I played and four of them played me. One hit me right on the blade of my shin bone and a bump came up the size of a golf ball, instantly.” Eventually, the infield mix was upgraded. Field irrigation and lighting were also added, all put in and paid for by the players and the league. “Every year we do something more. It was dugouts and then it was outfield fencing. We didn’t have those until about three years ago,” Gowl said. “Members built the backstops, members built the dugouts, members built the bleachers and the pavilion for the snack bar.” This year, the league is eyeing improved irrigation. “By the noon games on a hot day, it’s like playing on a parking lot,” Gowl said. “We’re trying to get a real irrigation system installed by a professional company – not some guy’s brother-in-law. I think we’re going to try to spend some money, because we have some money.” Annual fundraisers, including golf and bowling tournaments, help pay for the improvements. Thirteen sponsors pay for expenses for the 13 teams, and each player ponies up $60 to play. “Which is pretty cheap, by the way,” Gowl said. “It’s like $2 a game.” Gowl said, for him, the league provides a little exercise and camaraderie. “All my friends are either in Florida, the Carolinas or Baltimore City. I needed to make a whole new batch of friends down here,” he said. “I also spent my whole life playing ball – I played lacrosse, football, baseball, softball. I even played on a cricket [team] when I lived in England. I’ve never not played ball,” Gowl added. “This fills a big void for me and it’s a very decent bunch of men. It’s 156 guys and I would say, conservatively, there are maybe a half-dozen jackasses. That’s a pretty good ratio!” He said players include former police and firemen, former teachers, business people and farmers. “It’s a pretty diverse group of guys,” he said. “They have one thing in common: they like ball, they like competing and they want to stay active. Some of the guys who aren’t even playing hang over the fence, ragging on the guys on the field. That’s half the fun.” Mullins, a retired firefighter, said the Olde Tymers have become some of his best friends. “You meet new people … and you form friendships,” he said. “You might go to their house for a party or have a cookout … it’s just a way to meet a lot of people and it gives you a lot of opportunity to do different things.” He said the competition is stout without being overly aggressive, and the league works each year to improve the safety for its players – many of whom are getting on in years. As of this year, five players are over 80. “We’re not here to win a trophy – it’s a T-shirt,” he said. “It’s camaraderie, it’s getting old people off the couch and out of the house doing something physical, to keep their health good.” Gowl said the league is always on the lookout for new players and sponsors. For more information, visit “It’s very crisply run,” Gowl said of the Olde Tymers Softball League of Delmarva. “It’s about a well run as any softball league I’ve ever been in, in terms of the scheduling, the makeup games, the draft, the substitute system. It’s ingenious and it’s evolved and improved every year.”