Off Base: Celebrating joy of beanbag baseball

Wed, Feb 22

Tim Wakefield retired over the weekend, but the 45-year-old pitcher's career isn't necessarily over. In a few years he can join the beanbag baseball league at my parents' retirement home. Jamie Moyer, naturally, probably could play now.

Beanbag Baseball
Courtesy of Jim CapleVerle Caple: "Let me show you how it's done, son!"

Beanbag baseball is a game the retirees play every Tuesday and Friday year-round. Residents divide into two teams, then take turns tossing beanbags at holes in the game board 20 or so feet away. The holes are designated for singles, doubles, triples and home runs. Any bag that fails to find a hole is considered a strike, and three strikes make an out. Three outs, and the inning is over. So it's just like real baseball, only with less scratching and spitting.

"I love the camaraderie and the way we cheer for each other," resident Noreen Bissett said. "We cheer for the other team as much as ourselves. And we have a lot of laughs. It's not much in the way of exercise, but at least we're moving."

True, there isn't much running or sliding. (Manny Ramirez would fit right in.) When a player gets a "hit," he or she takes a seat in chairs that are labeled for the corresponding base, then slides over to the next chair if forced along by subsequent hits. Considering some residents are in their 90s, this is strictly station-to-station, chair-to-chair ball. It's kind of like watching Pittsburgh catcher Chris Snyder run the basepaths.

The team occasionally travels to games at other homes, some as far as 40 miles away. When they play another retirement residence, the players wear jerseys. They even occasionally have cheerleaders for big games, although I suspect the dance routines are more likely to "Begin the Beguine" than "My Humps." Or at least I hope so.

Read More