By Marie Fricker

In the shadow of majestic Lawson Tower, batters whack softballs lopped high in the air from a pitcher’s mound on the lush green lawns of Central Park Field in Scituate. Dressed in blue and red jerseys, the “Old Time Ballers” are playing the “Grey Socks” in the South Shore Senior Softball League (SSSSL) today and the score is tied.

“Hey Scott, you want to run for me?” yells the 77-year-old batter who has just hit a single and trotted to first base. “Nope, I don’t,” calls his teammate laughing. “Just run as fast as you can.”

The SSSSL is open to seniors throughout the South Shore with players in the age 65+ division taking the field on Fridays at 9:30 a.m. and the age 55+ division convening on Sunday mornings. The season runs from April through mid-September with an annual “Chili Bowl” game on New Year’s Day.

“We’ve played the Chili Bowl in temperatures of 10 degrees or 50 degrees, and always had a good time,” said league commissioner Bob Gibson, 75. “And we even played during Covid wearing masks on the field. In the winter, some of us make it a year-round activity by playing indoors at the Dome in Bridgewater.”

As with other sports teams, the SSSSL has its groupies, but its “number one fan” is Theresa Giannangelo, 67, of Canton, who travels to Scituate twice a week to watch her friends play. On this Friday afternoon in May, Giannangelo, 67 of Canton, roots loudly for both sides, keeps score, and picks up the trash from the field. The back of the maroon jersey she wears reads Sometimes the real hits are the friends we make along the way.

“These guys enjoy being together, but they are very competitive,” said Terry, whose ex-husband Mike Giannangelo,77, plays on three SSSSL teams every week. “Some of the older ones can’t run, but they’re still diehards. And they still get mad and fight with the umpires.”

The South Shore Senior Softball League was established by the late Jim Hyde of Scituate in 1997. A number of local men have served as commissioners since then, including Tom Edwards, Kevin McLaughlin and John Mann. The reins were passed to Bob Gibson in 2018, and a board of volunteers helps him oversee the teams.

The Scituate Council on Aging has sponsored and supported the SSSSL since its inception. “I’m thrilled that the league has grown so much since its early days when there were barely enough players to fill four teams,” said Linda Hayes Kelly, the director of the Scituate Senior Center. “Today, we have more than 120 members from Scituate, Hingham, Abington, Norwell, and numerous other South Shore towns, and many of them are in their seventies and eighties and still swinging for the fences.”

Some of the players on the SSSSL teams have had knee and hip replacements, and one recently had triple by-pass surgery, but as soon as wounds heal and spirits lift, they return to Central Field to try out new limbs and stronger hearts in the sport they love so well.

“In our senior league, we let everybody make it to first base if they get a hit,” said Gibson. “But then they have the option of calling for a pinch runner.”

On this sunny Friday morning, 86-year-old Dick Green of Norwell hits the ball to left field. He runs slowly but steadily to first base, and calls out, “Runner!” as a younger teammate takes his place.

Green speaks with a grin as he talks about his years on the senior softball league and his long history of playing baseball as a boy and young man. “I played with my Scituate high school team at Fenway Park when we won the state championship in 1954. It doesn’t get any better than that. Although we lost to St. Mary’s of Brookline 10-5 that day, it was great to be on that Red Sox diamond.”

Dave Andrews of Brockton, a coach on the SSSSL team, hadn’t played ball in 40 years when he joined the league in 2015. At 74, he is one of the younger players on his team today. “I call myself a ‘junior senior,’”he joked. “I’ve been playing with these guys for eight years now, and I love them all.”

Cheers and jeers from senior players during their games are no less boisterous than the banter of Little Leaguers on nearby fields. A pitcher calls out to a fidgeting batter, “Quit adjusting your position; you’re not gonna hit it anyway.” Another player yells, “Hey, that might have been ball four. He should be fined!”

“The guys ride each other a lot, but that’s what makes it so much fun,” said former commissioner of the league, Kevin McLaughlin of Scituate. “We take this game seriously even if we have a lot of fun playing it.”

McLaughlin is the “scribe” of the league, and his newsletters are written with Curt Gowdy-like sports acumen and humor. In an entry for the 2022 SSSSL season, he wrote, “Pat Grasso made a spectacular reaction catch on a scorched line drive at third base and, when celebrated for it by everyone on the field, he commented, “I can still move my arms.”

Ken “Duke” Schneider of Rockland, 68 has been playing ball for 49 years. “I’m about a year or so away from a knee replacement,” said Schneider, who also travels with the South Shore Senior Softball USA league. “Six of the players on my Rhode Island team have had hip replacements, but they’re all back on the field again. You can’t keep these guys down.”

Pat Grasso of Randolph, 75 manages the Sunday league. “I have Paget’s disease, but I don’t let that stop me,” he said. “I play on three different teams three days a week. When you retire, you wonder what you’ll do with your time. It’s great to be with a group of guys laughing, playing ball and getting some healthy exercise outdoors. It’s a win/win for everyone.”

A first-of-its kind father/son duo is on the roster of the SSSSL this year. George Mallett, 86, of Scituate and his son Tom, 56, play on the age 55+ team together. “I’m the oldest player on the Sunday league, and now I have my boy Tommy playing too,” said Mallett. “I’m just waiting for my youngest son to get old enough to join us.”

John Korzec of Braintree, 67, is a rookie on his team, just entering his second season of play in the SSSSL. “These guys are my inspiration,” he said. “Look at Dick Green, 86 years old, with that big smile on his face running to first base. I want to be him when I grow up. I want to be them all.”

For more information on the South Shore Senior Softball League, contact Bob Gibson at or the Scituate Council on Aging at 781-545-8722