Three times a week from November to April, four softball teams averaging 15 players each gather for a doubleheader at the North Shore Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Shortstop Gaspar “Pee Wee” Diiulis, who joined the team in 2011, says that back in the 1970s, he and his family vacationed in St. Pete from their Massachusetts home. “We used to watch the Kids and Kubs play, and here I am now doing it myself!” he says. Proudly cheering Pee Wee on from the stands is his granddaughter Sarah Detore. “My grandpa at 80 is more active now than when he was in his 40s,” she observes.
Since the club’s inception in 1931, some half-million fans have seen the team in action.
In the club’s early days, baseball legends, including Babe Ruth and Casey Stengel, would stop by during breaks from spring training and several even umpired games.
But Kids and Kubs wasn’t always a softball club. In 1930, local resident Evelyn Barton Rittenhouse founded a quilting club as “the proper sport for oldsters.” After a few quilting parties, the members complained that the events “were pretty dull stuff for a person with so much life.” Someone suggested they play softball, and “a group of the more robust ones” went on to form the Three-Quarter-Century Softball Club, later renamed Kids and Kubs.
Women were not a part of the club until Ethel Lehmann stepped into the batter’s box in 2004. Lehmann says she’s “still enjoying every minute” of the game she has played and loved since she was a young girl.
Don Osborn, who hung up his cleats after eight years, now maintains the club’s database. Kids and Kubs is a fixture in “city activities such as parades, annual games with City Hall members and other ball clubs in the area,” he says.
It was a parade that introduced club secretary Ed Asay, nicknamed “Third-Base Ed,” to Kids and Kubs. “I was 65 and I knew that I couldn’t just walk onto the field when I turned 75, so I started playing softball with another club,” he recalls. “I saw the players well up in age playing ball, and I wanted to emulate them.”
This article is an excerpt from the "Inspire Community Engagement" chapter of the AARP book Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Examples From America’s Community Leaders. Download or order your free copy.
Article by Amy Lennard Goehner | Book published June 2018
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