Every Sunday they grab their mitts out of the garage and suit up to play. A collection of dads, coaches, lawyers, construction workers, you name it. They all have two common passions: baseball and their hometown.
“This isn’t a sandlot church league. Guys don’t just put their name in and say hey put me on a team. It’s town ball,” explains Pittsboro Sluggers Manager Matt Nelson.
He’s part of the West Central Indiana Hoosier Townball Association Men’s League.
It started back in 2014 with a group of like-minded guys, many with a baseball past, who wanted to get back in the game at a competitive level.
It took off in Hendricks County and now boasts 11 teams and more than 150 players. Nelson and league president Ed Walker are constantly adding to the roster.
The catch? Players have to be at least 30 years old to play, 35 if you’re pitching. No young bucks on the mound, but don’t write off the sporty dad set. They’ve still got it.
“You run into these guys in the Little League circuits and you think in your mind, I could still do something like this,” said Nelson. “You kind of lose your mind and play like your 17 or 18.”
Whether it’s 90 degrees or freezing rain, they hit fastballs, slide if they need to, and do all the real stuff with major baseball rules.
“I’m surprised we haven’t had Hendricks Regional Health sponsor us yet with the number of sprains..or Advil,” laughs Nelson.
While they may not bounce back like their earlier baseball days, these guys are playing with plenty of pride for the Indiana town they live in.
The Sunday-only roster is played out at school baseball diamonds and county ballparks.
The league is complete with town uniforms and a growing fanbase.
It started with wives and heckling Little Leaguers (some eager to give *dad a few pointers this time) and has grown beyond on the diamond with park goers asking when they can catch the next game.
“It’s kind of interesting for a bunch of middle-aged guys,” said Nelson.
They play for bragging rights. It’s competitive but there is also a sense of camaraderie.
“We cross paths all the time. I just noticed a guy who was helping me load lumber at Lowes. I said, ‘Aren’t you a catcher for Cascade?’ Hendricks County is a small place.”
The town ball league is a nod to history and has a special place in the weekend calendar for many guys who haven’t lost the craving to hit a fastball, round the bases, feel their hand in the glove and just play baseball like nothing else matters (as much as their body will allow).
“You feel like you are part of something greater. You feel like you are part of the game again. There’s something special about baseball and there is something more special about playing baseball like this in Middle America where you are not being paid.”
“You are just doing it for the love of the game.”
By Lindsay Doty