WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) – They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Don’t say that to The Greater Milwaukee 65+ Softball League players.
Every summer, the league uses a slightly modified version of softball to get men 65 and older to sit on the couch and hit the field for fun, competitive games. at McCarty Park.
“Keeping everyone active, having fun and making new friends,” explains Greg Baker, a player, manager and league president. “The plays that some of these guys can still do and the athleticism they have; it’s unbelievable when you’re watching these guys.”
The league has about 180 players forming 12 teams. The average age of a player is 76.
“We have 30 players who are 80 or older,” said Baker. “Our oldest player in the league is 90 years old; Al Behling.”
Al Behling walked out onto the field with a sense of swagger and pride that only someone with 83 years of baseball/softball experience could muster. With a smile on his face, he fastened his belt and prepared his gloves for action. After all, he was the one who caught it. An integral part of a ball club.
“For 70 years, I was hoping to get this job,” Behling said of the catcher position. “Now I understand.”
Behind the placard, 90-year-old Behling is a leader, giving orders and making sure that in his yard is aware of the scenario in which the team finds themselves. When he steps on the plate, the right-hander can still make a punch.
“I don’t have the skills I used to have,” Behling admits. “I realized that. I’m no longer an asset, I’m a liability,” he laughs.
Taking into account those perceptions, the 90-year-old has decided Summer 2022 will be his last match on the court.
“It’s hard to leave, but I’m leaving this year,” Behling said. “83 years, that’s my life. Me and my wife, we played baseball all the way.”
While Al may miss the game, his teammates will actually feel his absence at the ball park.
“To have a 90-year-old here like Al Behling, that’s really inspiring for everyone,” Tim Whiting said. “He was an inspiration to all of us. We will miss him.”
“He’s my idol,” Baker added. “I want to be like Al. I want to be able to play like Al at 90, when I’m finally an adult.”
As for Behling himself, he is willing to exchange gloves for fishing rods and golf clubs.
“I don’t want to just sit around,” Behling said. “I don’t have a backyard garden. I want to do many things.”
However, he remains grateful for his 83-year time spent on the football field and hopes he can inspire others to continue the game he so loved.
“Enjoy the game. Don’t walk away,” Al said. “Too many people left.”
Walk away, which the union hopes will continue to prevent for years to come.
“We don’t care where you want to come from as long as you’re willing to drive to compete every Thursday,” Baker said, encouraging players to contact him to sign up for next season. “We want more men to join our league. We want more men to come in and stay active.”
Anyone interested in playing please contact Greg Baker at 414-771-9532.