City of Suffolk hopes to resurrect men’s softballPublished 11:29pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Suffolk Parks and Recreation is looking to bring back something that used to be a prominent part of the city’s athletic landscape — a men’s slow-pitch softball league.
Longtime softball player and coach Jerry Clark, a Suffolk resident, recalls when Suffolk was home to a 24-team men’s league. The games were competitive, and the rivalries were cherished.
“Each team we played, they talked trash to one another, but it was all in good fun,” Clark said.
Games were played primarily at Peanut Park and Monogram Ball Field, and Clark estimated that 50-75 people would regularly flock to the games and even more when the best teams faced off.
Despite the popularity, the league has been absent from Suffolk for around seven years. Searching through records for photos of league activities, the most recent Rob Ramos of Parks and Recreation could find was from spring 2006.
Ramos said that he has been told the field conditions played a big factor in the demise of the sport.
Clark concurred, recalling that when thunderstorms came, not enough effort was put into protecting and maintaining the fields so games could quickly resume, perhaps even the same night.
Instead, delays forced make-up games, scheduled on nights the league did not normally play, which inconvenienced the players.
Ramos said these and other issues drove teams to Portsmouth and surrounding cities to find leagues in which they could play.
But he said the reason the city is once again pursuing men’s softball is “the interest is there.”
“I do have about four or five teams that have shown interest that would like to come back that used to play in Suffolk,” Ramos said.
Registration has been open, and while it technically ends Aug. 9, Ramos said, if some teams cannot get in by then, there may be opportunity the following week to join.
Clark had already signed up to coach a team in Chesapeake before he heard of the league’s comeback, but he hopes it will breed future success so he can return.
“If they can get it back to where it once was, I‘d rather play there,” he said of Suffolk.
“I would like to see them get enough for the fall and hopefully carry it into the spring,” he said. “That would be nice.”
With a minimum of 12 players on each squad, Ramos has a goal in mind for how many teams he hopes to get.
“I know we can grow into a bigger league, but if we can at least get six this year, it would be great,” he said.
Teams from cities outside of Suffolk will be welcomed, as well.
The league will run at the same time as the city’s fall church league, and players can participate in both leagues. Men’s league games will be held Tuesday nights at the JFK Sports Complex, while the church league will play at the same location on Friday evenings.
Ramos is looking to start the men’s league season Aug. 20.
Interested parties can register at the Suffolk Parks and Recreation Administration Building on 134 S. Sixth St. For more information, contact Rob Ramos at 514-7270.