Billy Hitchcock Men's Senior Baseball League helps men stay fit

Fred Landrum's hand hurt a bit Monday morning, the result of catching baseball pitches tossed on Sunday by a hard thrower much younger than himself.

"Actually, I am a little sore all over," Landrum said.

The president of Prosperity America Inc. in Midland, Ga., said a few aches are expected from playing baseball at age 62. Still, he was planning to play in some softball games Monday evening.

Landrum plays in the Billy Hitchcock Men's Senior Baseball League, which conducts games on Sunday afternoons at Golden Park in Columbus and high school fields in and around Lee County, Ala.

Sunday at Golden Park, a draft of players took place and a couple of scrimmage games were played.

Landrum not only plays catcher but manages one of the teams.

He loves baseball and is thrilled to be able to compete at his age.

"Some folks are shocked when I tell them I play baseball," he said.

The Billy Hitchcock Men's Senior Baseball League was established in 2002. It is affiliated with the Men's Senior and Adult Baseball League, a national organization for baseball leagues for players of various skills and age.

Named for former major league player and manager Billy Hitchcock, the local league is an 18-and-over wood bat league.

It was begun by Gary Gomez, a Delta Air Lines pilot who lives in Auburn, Ala.

Gomez, 54, said he was driving to Peachtree City, Ga., to play baseball and got tired of traveling.

"We try to provide a professional atmosphere. These are serious amateur baseball players," Gomez said.

He said most of the players have

a good baseball background.

The season will begin in April and run into August. Gomez said there should be six teams with 18-20 players per team. The price tag for players varies among teams but usually runs about $150.

All you need is a glove, shoes with cleats and a love for the game, he said.

Landrum said there is free substitution in the games, so everyone plays.

Answers to other questions about the league may be found at www.billyhitchcockmsbl.com.

Gomez said people need to exercise and baseball "motivates you to get off your rear end."

Landrum and Gomez both said that as a way of staying physically fit, playing ball beats spending time in a gym.

Landrum said playing ball could inspire a person to go to the gym and get in better shape to play ball.

"It gives you a reason to want to go better yourself," Landrum said.

Phil Pattersen, 31, of Columbus, who is in the restaurant business in Atlanta, enjoys playing in the league.

"I pitch, but center field is my love," he said.

He said he played baseball in college and some minor league ball. He likes that he can continue to compete.

Like Landrum, he plays softball in addition to baseball.

He said that it is a great way to stay in shape and there is another benefit to playing ball:

"It's great stress relief," he said.