Weiss still plays baseball at age 68 (12-10-13)
Written by THOMAS SCHMELTZ Sentinel Sports Writer
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 10:18
Baseball is a way of life for Larry Weiss.
|Larry Weiss (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
He doesn't just watch or follow games. At 68 years old, Weiss is still playing.
Yes, playing - and playing competitively.
The right-handed pitcher, not exactly a flame-thrower anymore, estimates that he played 48 games for three different teams between this past summer and fall.
"The neat thing is when I tell people I still play baseball and they see the gray hairs and stuff," Weiss said, "they say 'Oh you mean softball.' And I say no baseball, with the small, white ball. I tell them we run and slide and everything," Weiss said, laughing.
It all started in 1995.
Weiss, a lifelong Cleveland Indians fan, received a gift to Indians fantasy camp as a birthday present. So in January of 1996 he made the trip to Winter Haven, Fla., then the site of Cleveland's spring training facilities.
It was the first time Weiss had played baseball in almost 30 years. And it opened a door to even more baseball for years down the road.
While in Florida, Weiss met one of the co-founders of the Legends of Baseball, a newly-formed tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., for players 30-and-older.
His first trip to Cooperstown was in the summer of 1996, and the Bowling Green resident has missed just one year since.
"The feeling of being with all of these guys ... we have such a good time together," Weiss said of his trips to Cooperstown, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. "There is something to be said for all of that camaraderie and friendship."
In 2007, Weiss, a longtime manager during his five-day stints in Cooperstown, was awarded with the George Goodall Lifetime Achievement Award from Legends of Baseball.
After coming back from his first trip to New York, Weiss did not know how else he was going to cure his itch to play ball.
As a 50-year-old he found a summer team in Bowling Green where the oldest member next to him was 25.
Two years with players half his age was enough. But his baseball days weren't over.
In the late 1990s Weiss found an advertisement for a men's baseball league that was 48 years and above, which is now the Roy Hobbs Baseball League.
Weiss has been involved with the Northwest Ohio Roy Hobbs league for 15 or 16 years, according to his estimation, and plays for and manages the Toledo Knights.
He is the oldest starting pitcher in the entire league.
"I just grew up playing baseball and loving baseball," Weiss said. And now, as my doctor told me one time, 'Keep playing as long as you can. You'll live longer than the rest of us.'
"I do it for the sheer love of the game and also the competitiveness of it. But also, it's a great way to keep in shape.
Apparently two baseball leagues couldn't get the job done. In 2008, Weiss became involved with the Men's Senior Baseball League.
The league, based out of New York City, holds a World Series in Arizona every October, and this year could arguably be called the best fall of Weiss' baseball career.
He played in two different age divisions, which meant he played 13 games and participated in two practices over a 17-day stretch.
In the first week, with the 70 and older age group, Weiss' team made it to the semifinals of the tournament before losing, and in week two he played with the 65 and older group before falling 6-5 in the championship game.
But it was not all a loss.
During his time in Arizona, Weiss had the opportunity to pitch at Goodyear Park, the new spring training home of the Indians and the Cincinnati Reds.
Also, in the second week of the tournament, Weiss was selected to pitch in the semifinal game, in which he threw a four-hitter on 100 pitches. His team posted a 12-2 win after he struck out the final batter.
"I felt so lucky and appreciative and honored that I got to pitch that game, and then to be able to throw a four-hitter," Weiss said.