Playing ball in Lincoln, an 80-year experience, Part twoBy: Jim Datzman
Editor’s note: This is Part two of a two-part series on baseball in Lincoln. Today looks at the latter years and includes William Jessup University Warriors, adult recreational softball and tournaments, the Senior Leagues, and life beginning at 80. Last week’s Part one looks at the former years
William Jessup University Warriors
Last year, William Jessup University met with the city of Lincoln to make improvements to the McBean Park Baseball Field as part of a long-term agreement.
This year was the second year of play for the Warrior Varsity team at this location and what a year it was! The team won the championship in the Golden State Athletic Conference by compiling a record of 27 wins and nine losses.
It got even better when a decision was reached to host the NAIA Regional Playoffs at McBean Park. The Warriors ended up with a second-place finish after narrowly losing the championship game by a 16 to 15 score.
Many local fans cherished the high-quality baseball played by the Warriors and they are now definitely included in the Lincoln baseball family.
Lincoln Adult Recreational Leagues
Adult recreational softball is also very popular with a total of 270 members participating on 18 teams, plus four co-ed teams and four women’s teams. Many of these are evening games using the Foskett complex as their major venue.
Tournament play in Lincoln
Tournament play takes place from early March through the Thanksgiving holiday and includes anywhere from 30 to 35 tournaments at the Foskett Park and Wilson Park complexes and involving more than 4,000 participants.
Tournaments in July include the Senior Softball Western Cup and the Western Girls Fast Pitch Tournament. In addition to umpiring staff, hosting these tournaments involves employing 20 part-time personnel to monitor tournament activity, conduct field preparation, maintain restrooms and trash bins, and to assist with any emergency situations.
The tournaments are an economic asset to the city as many out-of-towners use local hotels and visit local restaurants and businesses during their stay.
Lincoln Hills Senior Softball program
Jeff Greenberg serves as president of the Sun City Lincoln Hills Senior Softball League. He is not a softball player but started umpiring after visiting the Del Webb field 15 years ago and seeing the enthusiasm demonstrated by the players.
“I enjoy watching the games, knowing that I am playing a role in making it happen,” Jeff said.
League play involves 130 players on 10 recreational league teams. All games are played on the first-class Del Webb field, which also serves as a great social gathering location.
Lincoln Hills players apparently like to travel, as there are 124 people on rosters for the Coyotes, Sun Eagles, and Classics traveling teams.
This year, several teams are scheduled to play in the World Masters Invitational Tournament in Las Vegas in September, and one team (Coyotes 60s), is scheduled to play in the Kauai Invitational Tournament in Hawaii in October.
Our action photo shows Forest Burkett of the traveling Coyotes team stroking a hit during a recent tournament at Del Webb Field. When Forest gets a hit, you will often hear voices from the stands shout, “Run Forest, Run” and he does.
Life begins at 80
In case you don’t believe it, just ask two 85-year-olds, Bud Conner and Rod Violette, who play in the Recreational League and for the 80s Coyotes traveling team.
For exercise, Bud rides his bicycle to and from the ballpark and he feels good when he can “park under one in the outfield.”
Rod, who is one month older than Bud, has a claim to fame during a championship game a few years ago. Rod’s team won the championship when he got five hits in five at-bats in front of his five grandchildren. A proud grandpa he was
In Lincoln, the term playing ball means lots of people on lots of teams in varying ages on lots of fields. It ranges from single-digit aged youngsters to well-seasoned seniors responding to the call, “Let’s play Ball.”
And that’s what our community is all about.
Jim Datzman is a Lincoln Parks and Recreation Committee member.