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Monday, May 28, 2018
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Plant City softball team for senior citizens fades into history

PLANT CITY - A softball team for players 55 and older has played its last game after two decades. John Wolfe, who organized the team, said not enough players expressed interest to continue playing this fall. So he had no choice except to disband the team that wore New York Yankees-style pinstripes. "It hated to do it but the team just couldn't make it," he said. "I tried my best to recruit but there's only so much you can do." He started the league in 1992 with 15 of his fellow residents of the Country Meadows, a community north of town now known as Meadows at CountryWood.
At one time, teams of players came from as far as Pasco County for the games at the Randy L. Larson Softball Four-Plex and Mike E. Sansone Community Park in Plant City. "It flourished for quite a few years," he said. The sense of camaraderie was inspiring, and he was proud that players never cursed or swore when calls didn't go their way. The number of players peaked at 50, and included teams from Plant City, Lakeland, Mulberry and Zephyrhills. As players dropped out for various reasons, such as illness, he lowered the minimum age from 60 to 55. But the ranks of players continued to shrink. Wolfe, 86, thanked South Florida Baptist Hospital for supplying the uniforms and others who contributed to the team's success over years. Wolfe said he hasn't given up the game and now plays in a Brandon-based senior league that has about 100 players. He said any senior player interested in playing in that league, which plays its games in Dover, should call him at (813) 754-8649. "I'm hoping to play another 20 years," he said. And he hopes Plant City's team will be revived one day so "our senior footprints will not be the last seniors to play on these fields."

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