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Bonner Springs baseball players don’t let age stop them in Sandlot-style league

BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. -- Baseball legend Satchel Paige once said, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" He retired from the Kansas City A's at the ripe old age of 59.

There's a Sandlot-style baseball league in Bonner Springs whose players live by Satchel's words. A place where athletes are doing their best to forget about their age and their injuries.

Sunday morning's game pitted Max's Team against Mike's Team. Players show up early to warm up. It takes a while when most of the team is over 60 years old, and some are pushing 75. Mismatched uniforms, old equipment and competitors that some would say are slightly passed their prime suit up to relive their glory days and create some golden memories.

Gerry Novack is a 72-year-old hurler. He said he throws a knuckleball, a cutter, a slider and a curve. But his heater has been missing for decades.

Combine the ages of the starting pitchers for Sunday's game, and its somewhere north of 130. Just don't bring it up. Their injuries remind them all day long.

Novack says, "I've had seven knee surgeries, including two total knee replacements and seven elbow surgeries, plus some work on my back."

But there is no disabled list, so the guys keep bouncing back.

“My entire body hurts with tendinitis. That’s my injury, and lack of effectiveness," laughs Marty Lee.

Scott Reinardy even had a heart transplant.

"I'm here playing ball.  Here doing the things I love to do," he said.

And their heroes aren't today's big money multi-year contract holders. They're former Kansas City A's players like Wayne Causey, Ed Charles and Rocky Colavito.

The league motto is "Have fun and don't get hurt," but sometimes they forget that last part and slide into second and sometimes regret it.

So if you think you are passed your backyard baseball days, but you kind of wish you weren't, heads up. They are recruiting. According to team manager Mike Warner, ”If you haven’t played for a long time, if you are old or you are injured, this is the place to play.”

Most of the players have big plans to extend their careers far into the future.

"We got Geritol and Depends as sponsors. By the time we hit 85, we will be hitting off the t's and our kids will tell us which way to run," says Jerry Weaver.

Still livin' the dream, on a diamond where age isn't allowed to become an obstacle.

If you are interested in learning more about the league, go to this link.

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