Michigan Senior Softball League starts 29th year

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published May 7, 2015

 Players in the Michigan Senior Softball League greet former Detroit Tiger Ike Blessitt prior to him throwing out a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day of the 2015 season May 7.

Players in the Michigan Senior Softball League greet former Detroit Tiger Ike Blessitt prior to him throwing out a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day of the 2015 season May 7.

Photo by Deb Jacques

WARREN — On a picturesque day, the Michigan Senior Softball League began its 29th season, with all six teams playing on Opening Day.

The league, established in 1987, started a new season May 7 with games at Warren’s Halmich Park. An Opening Day ceremony took place, with players reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before former Detroit Tiger Ike Blessitt, who played with the club in 1972, threw out a ceremonial first pitch. A moment of silence was held honoring the players who have passed away after playing in the league, open to those age 70 and older.

The season is made up of 31 regular-season games and a playoff tournament. Current teams are sponsored by Andiamo, Village House, American House, Ram’s Horn, Hopcroft Funeral Home, and Sullivan and Sons funeral directors.

“This league has done a lot for a lot of people,” Michigan Senior Softball League President Phil Wendel said. “You have a lot of people out here who wouldn’t be active without it. It’s so much fun to come out here each year. These guys become more than teammates. We’re all friends.”

Blessitt, 65, said he appreciates what Wendel and everyone who has a part in putting the league together does. Blessitt, a Detroit native, said he plans to play in the league when he becomes eligible.

“This is such a wonderful thing that they do,” Blessitt said. “You get these guys out here having fun and getting the chance to play the game they’ve loved all their lives.

“I’m looking forward to getting out there when I’m able. I may be up there in age, but I can still swing a bat.”

The league comprises six teams and 83 players. That’s down from seven teams and 119 players in 2014.

Wendel said the league continues to look to add players. Cost to play is $60 for the season. A banquet is held at the end of each season.

For more information on the league, call Wendel at (586) 754-5732.