Man About Canton: Canton Softball Issues

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MAC read with great interest the recent article by reporter Mike Berger in the Canton Citizen regarding the “dwindling softball interest” in the town of Canton.

The Canton Men’s League was established in 1946 and the Slow Pitch League began in 1967. According to Berger, a combination of a lack of participation, absence of league leadership, and the ongoing dispute regarding homerun limits led to the disbanding of the Men’s League this past summer. Last year, the league instituted a homerun limit of five per game while the top teams wanted a limit of 10 per game. Most leagues have a three homerun limit with any further homeruns constituting an out in most cases. Today, with bats that have technology built into them that make a softball go 20 to 25 percent further than the old bats used years ago, even MAC, who is in his 70s, can hit a softball further now than he did in his 20s. Some softball leagues will only allow bats that the league purchases, and both teams are required to only use those particular bats during the game. In fact, the Stoughton Men’s Softball League does exactly that with seven bats used by both teams. The point is homeruns have to be limited, and certainly 10 and even five per game is out of the question. If the league is restarted in Canton, and it may never be, it has to start with a limit of three homeruns per game that fly out of the ballpark.

During a recent Canton Men’s Softball League playoffs, the winning team scored 192 runs in 10 games while hitting 63 out-of-the-park homeruns at Devoll and Messinger fields. Since both of these fields have fences, five or 10 homeruns per game is ridiculous. The measurements at Devoll field are 345 feet to left field, 315 feet to centerfield, and 285 feet to right field. At Messinger, it’s 300 feet down the left-field line and 310 feet down the right-field line. That’s like hitting a ball out of Fenway Park. In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, a team was lucky if its players could hit four or five homeruns in 10 games.

Another option would be to switch to a softer softball like many leagues have done to restrict too many homeruns.

The overall problem is that slow-pitch softball participation is really declining from its heyday in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, which has led to many cancellations of once popular leagues and slow-pitch tournaments. The only bright spot is that the senior softball leagues are flourishing as the players of the 70s, 80s, and 90s have turned to the over-55 senior softball leagues. The EMass Senior League, headquartered in Wayland, has 370 players; the Cape Cod Senior League, headquartered in Harwich, has over 400 players; and the Rhode Island league boasts up to 380 players. The South Shore League, headquartered in Scituate, has 100 players all over the age of 55. So senior softball is still going strong while the leagues under 50 are declining at an alarming rate. It’s too bad because it was a great game and it still is for the seniors.

The 13th annual Canton Road Race will be presented this year by City of Boston Credit Union on Sunday, September 24, starting at 12 noon at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children at 3 Randolph Street. The road race used to be sponsored and located at the Reebok headquarters in Canton, but Reebok is moving its headquarters to Boston. The Canton Association of Business and Industry still sponsors the well-attended Canton Road Race and it is their chief fundraiser.

One day later, on Monday, September 25, Canton has another sporting event as the sixth annual Backstreet Open Golf Tournament, sponsored by Foley’s Backstreet Grille, will be held at DW Field golf course in Brockton. The cost is $125 per person and $50 for a sponsorship. For more information, email backstreetgrille@verizon.net. Both of these Canton sporting events will support the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children, formerly the Massachusetts Hospital School.

The Canton Historical Society recently received a stonemason’s chisel that was found in the walls of Memorial Hall during renovations.

A smart person knows what to say; a wise person knows whether or not to say it.

This is all for now folks. See you next week.

Joe DeFelice can be reached at manaboutcanton@aol.com.

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