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Orange County Focus

HUNTINGTON BEACH : Councilman's Going on Road to Play Ball

September 04, 1993|ROBERT BARKER

Dave Sullivan won't be in the lineup when the City Council meets Tuesday.

While his council colleagues take their turn batting around a usual array of zoning changes, appeals for sign permits and conditional use permits, Sullivan and his teammates will be on their way to Scottsdale, Ariz., to compete in the Senior Softball World Championships.

Sullivan, 56, is a starting outfielder on a slow pitch team in the Huntington Beach recreation softball league for those 55 to 60 years old. He has a batting average of "around .500" and is considered one of the fastest players on the team.

Two years ago, he played in the open classification and the next oldest player was 32. "It was really tough to keep up," he said. But last year, he qualified for the 55-60 team and went nearly overnight from being "a grizzled veteran" to "the Kid."

"Softball is a complete escape," Sullivan said. "You forget your cares and you feel like you're a 12-year-old kid again. I fully intend to play until I am 90.

"If you're healthy, it's the greatest activity there is."

But athletes who are advancing in years should probably see a doctor and get checkups before they start playing, he said.

"You put out maximum effort at times and forget how old you are and do things like you did when you were in your 20s," he said.

Sullivan's team, sponsored by Fairway Ford of Placentia, qualified for the championships by merely showing up at a tournament last month on Maui.

Only two teams checked in in Sullivan's division, and both qualified without playing a game.

"Hey, we'll seize every opportunity that's offered to us," he joked. Sullivan said it will be a major surprise if his team does well in the tournament "because there will be other teams that are better than us. But we'll try hard and will have a good time."

The local team will be one of 20 from the United States and Canada competing for the championship.

Officials said there will be several other Orange County teams competing, including the Fountain Valley Barons, the Southern California Braves, the California Classics and the San Juan Capistrano Angels. Games start Thursday.

Stan Ross, a Huntington Beach cabinetmaker who plays on the team with Sullivan, said he believes senior softball is the only place where people actually look forward to having a birthday and getting older so they can move into another age bracket.

Ross turns 60 next year and will play in the 60-65 age group.

Bob Thrall, who runs the softball program for the city's Community Services Department, said between 300 and 400 teams play each season and that up to 60 teams play on the city's nine softball fields on any given night.

Would-be athletes interested in signing up for a team can drop by the Community Services Department in the Civic Center or call (714) 536-5486.

Thrall puts names and positions on file and makes it available to teams that will pick up players "sooner or later" to fill vacant positions, he said.

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