"It's hard to walk away from something you love,'' says Steve "Doc" Parsons, a 64-year-old pitcher for the Westport Cardinals in the Fairfield County Men's Senior Baseball League. "I don't want to walk away as long as I can still compete."
Make no mistake, Parsons can still compete. He was Westport's winningest pitcher last year, still throws over 70 mph and most importantly, gets people out. He earned a complete-game victory in the 25-and-over World Series last year. "A well-located fastball,'' Parsons says, "is still the best pitch in the world."
Parsons, who has been pitching since 1957, attributes his durability to several factors. He learned the proper mechanics as a youngster growing up from "Little" Bill Miller, a highly-regarded baseball instructor. Parsons, who played for a powerful high school team at Winnetka, Ill, went on to play at the University of Kansas. "When you throw a baseball properly, you don't feel anything in your arm,'' Doc says. The other component to Parsons' staying power is his fitness. He has worked at a variety of jobs and industries, but he spent 20 years as a trainer at the Jewish Community Center in Stamford. "It taught me mobility, strength and balance, and how to apply it,'' says Doc, who is now retired.
Perhaps just as important, Parsons has never lost his passion. He plays for the Cardinals on Sunday and for a Danbury team on Saturdays. "You step on the field, and you feel like you're 17 again,'' Parson says. He takes good-natured ribbing from opponents and teammates, but he takes it in stride. "You get on the field and we're all the same,'' Parsons says. "I expect to compete and have fun, and my teammates expect the same. The best part of the game is our time on the bench. We have a good group of guys."
Parsons was a founding member of the Fairfield County League, which began in 1989. He has played for teams in Norwalk and Orange before joining the Cardinals, who play most of their home games at Doubleday Field at Kings Highway Elementary School. He has had just one arm injury during his career, but did have knee replacement in December. He dedicated himself to rehabilitation and was working out again in six weeks. "I have more strength now than I did in the last 30 years,'' he says.
How much longer can he go? "Physically, I know I can do it for 5 or 10 more years,'' says Doc, who turns 65 in September. "It depends on what other influences come along."
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