Obit for the O Team
The Baby Boom reached its demographic acme in 1957. Slow-pitch peaked in Ann Arbor in 1985, when the average Boomer was approaching thirty. That year, Rec & Ed counted 450 slow-pitch teams and 6,300 players. Just about every other able-bodied adult in Ann Arbor must have played softball that summer. Then, like us Boomers, the game began a long, steady decline.
This year there are only sixteen teams in the Michigan Classics league, exiled from Mitchell to Elbel Field. Co-director AJ Haduch says he expects other teams to return next year to the remaining pair of diamonds at Mitchell--but even that would be a far cry from a decade ago, when those diamonds hosted up to twelve games a night, five nights a week.
Yet slow-pitch hasn't entirely died; geez, the Rolling Stones are still playing, aren't they? You just stop sliding once you reach fifty: way too painful, and a good way to get a hip replacement. You can ask for a "designated runner" if you show your AARP card--but you'd better have someone on the bench who's not a senior citizen.