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Observations of an Old Semi-Athlete

With GPPC softball’s regular season wrapping on June 10, we ask team member-emeritus Jeff Lloyd for some reflections on his time with the sport. As you will read, Jeff takes us on a deep rewind!

In addition to beating the alternative, growing older has other benefits as well. We won’t discuss the negative aspects of the process. One accumulates more experiences, knowledge, memories, and – as my Uncle Ivan Tucker, a retired coal miner now in his mid-90’s, says, “Life becomes more meaningful.” I have just read The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, a memoir about growing up in the 1950s in Des Moines, Iowa. That was also my formative time along the Kanawah River in West Virginia coal country before my family moved to Roanoke, Virginia in 1963. Bryson’s experiences and memories are nearly identical to mine. He speaks of baseball, early television shows, local retail shops and restaurants, atomic bomb threats, parents and grandparents, strange acquaintances, and of course, relationships with the opposite sex. I highly recommend it for the baby boomer generation, more aptly described as those still trying to grow up and figure things out.

Sterling and I came to Richmond a month after marrying on July 18, 1970. We did not join Ginter Park Presbyterian Church until the early ‘80s, but my first experience with GPPC came in the form of playing slow pitch softball against the green-clad men of Walton & Seminary – in the Northside Church League at Pine Camp Recreation Center. My teams were Northminster Baptist Church (as a “ringer”, like most of the current GPPC players) and later the All Souls Presbyterian Church team, where Sterling and I had become members. The GPPC team was led by Mike Greenwood and Jim Workman, and a most memorable moment came one year when Northminster beat GPPC by the unheard of low score of 2 – 1 in extra innings. I am sure my contribution to the victory was something great but it cannot be specifically recalled.

Also of note: before Mizpah Presbyterian Church and GPPC merged, the Mizpah team played in the league. They were led by Gene and John Cox, and Gene hit some long shots into the trees at Pine Camp. When the Lloyds joined GPPC, the softball team no longer existed. My career found several teams, most notably the Biograph Theater team of the infamous Fan League, and the Unitarian Church team of the West End Churches League. The current GPPC team is really an offshoot of the Unitarian team since our current manager, Sam Coppedge, was originally of that team. Sam led the revival of our church’s team several years ago. If not for Sam, there would be no softball team at GPPC. It was my fantasy that slow pitch softball would be a part of my summers well into my early 70s or so. Alas, some eye problems and other health issues arose to curtail that dream. However, before my retirement, my sons and I were able to play together on the GPPC team and in my last game, Duncan and I hit home runs and Jack launched an errant throw from right field that sailed over the backstop.

Just like it was yesterday.

Jeff Lloyd can be reached by phone (see our online directory) or in person whenever you can find him. He is a mature adult and does not do email, Facebook, Twitter, or any of that other nonsense.

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