For some people, playing ball into your 60’s, 70’s or even your 80’s may seem like a stretch. Well, not for the active seniors at Kawananakoa Park in Nuuanu. Every Sunday morning you can find teams sweating in the warm morning sun, trying to beat each other … and these guys are serious.
The league runs eight months out of the year with six teams that sport players whose average age is 70.
For the last 50-plus years, this American Japanese American (AJA) community softball league has been at this park keeping avid ballplayers in shape and having the time of their lives. Actually, it’s unclear as to how long this league has been playing. You see, you have to be a minimum of 60 years old to be on the team, but none of today’s players were in the league 50 years ago (even though there are players in their 90’s still playing in the league).
For some former players just getting out to the park to cheer on the teams keeps them active and young, just like Takeo “Take” Shimabukuro, at 90 years of age.
And then there is rookie Dennis Koki at 60 years young. The opportunity to compete and play the game keeps him spry. And, for many of the seniors, the pupus after the games are the best part!
Every 10 seconds someone in the U.S. turns 62 years old. As our population grows older, we hope that the interest in senior sports and activities grows too — as this has certainly been the case with several of Hawaii’s softball leagues. Mostly recently, the state softball tournament was held on Maui. There were 49 teams, with five divisions of various skill levels and more than 750 players.
One of the more popular leagues is the statewide City and County parks and recreations senior league where on Oahu, they play every Wednesday morning at the beautiful Waipio complex. If you are interested in playing in the Kawanakoa league just come on down to the park and talk to the players as they are always looking to recruit new “young” men. For the city league you may call Les Lunasco 295-3962 as their minimum age is 55.
Good luck to all the players and see you soon at the park, as I am only 50.