I stopped by Emerson Park on Saturday morning to catch some of the ASA National men’s fastpitch action, and for a brief moment, it felt like the 1990s again.
Steve Lashuay was at second base, and making great plays.
Rick Engel was in the circle.
Eric Isenhart was batting second.
Dale Robbins and Gregg Sauve were chatting it up in the dugout, alongside Larry Graf, Mitch Bohn, Peter Finn and several other familiar names in local men’s fastpitch through the years.
Umping behind the plate was Rick Havercroft. Sitting in a chair behind the backstop at Currie Stadium was Bill Humphrey.
If you rewound the clock and made it 1995 or even 1985, you’d have seen some of these very same ball players and umpires at Emerson Park.
That’s why the Midland team is called the “Legends” and that’s why they were competing in the 40-and-over division in the national tournament.
I watched these guys in their athletic primes, and I remember when Emerson Park was buzzing with excitement. National tournaments. World tournaments. Men’s tournaments. Women’s tournaments. It didn’t matter. Midland — specifically Emerson Park — was the place to be on a warm summer day or night.
Men’s fastpitch softball, though, is no longer the same. Far from it. For years, it’s been a struggle to get males interested in the sport. Midland once had 12 fastpitch teams as little as four years ago. Now it’s down to four.
Thanks to people like Kyle Beane and David Lach, and other members of the Midland Explorers softball organization, they’re doing what they can to help lure more males into fastpitch. It’s encouraging to see two 23-and-under Explorers teams competing in the weekend tournament. Maybe that’s a sign of good things to come. Click here to continue reading at the Midland Daily News.