MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - For 25 years, the International Senior Softball Association (ISSA) has hosted the nation’s most competitive softball tournaments, featuring seasoned athletes with decades of experience.
Since 1994, the ISSA has redefined the game of softball by hosting tournaments with athletes ages 50 and older.
This week more than 80 teams are competing in Myrtle Beach.
“I didn’t know it would be as much fun as it would be and it is very competitive,” said 70-years-old softball player Jack McDuffie.
While most might consider these players well past their prime, don’t worry, these senior softball teams have no problem proving you wrong.
“It’s remarkable to watch these 70-year-old players competing,” said ISSA Executive Director RB Thomas.
Over the past decade Myrtle Beach has become one of ISSA’s favorite places to play and is the only city they visit twice a year.
Teams traveled from Florida, Tennessee and even Surfside Beach with players ranging in age from 50 to their late 80s.
Thomas helped create the league with the vision of providing senior players a voice and opportunity to participate in highest quality world-class tournaments.
Thomas also spent his entire adult life around the game of softball as a player and manager.
ISSA hosts 27 tournaments for both men and women throughout the country with nearly 100 teams competing and it’s all managed by RB and his seven children.
“It’s become a family affair, it’s like a family reunion most of these weekends so it’s really special for our family,” said Thomas.
This week’s tournament features 85 teams, which is probably just above the average age for most of these players.
Yet, they refuse to let their age defy them.
“I never thought I’d even be around at 81, but the special thing about it is I’ve got guys that we’ve been playing together with for over 40 years,” said Mike Desorbo.
Jasper Pendergrass, who grew up in Hartsville has been playing sports since he was a kid.
Now living in Maryland at the age of 70, Pendergrass hasn’t lost a step.
“You only live once so you might as well enjoy yourself and you might as well enjoy the things you’re doing in life,” said Pendergrass.
The tournament in Myrtle Beach is also a homecoming for Pendergrass who got a visit from an old friend, Ronald Reeves.
“I used to watch him play football and baseball and I’m like, life’s just beginning for these guys,” said Reeves.
For most, they see no end in sight as they continue to play the game they all love.
“Two years ago when I was 69 I hit one out of this 325-foot park and to me that was something I never even did when I was younger,” said McDuffie.
“It’s just a special bond that we all have with each other,” said Desorbo.
As the tournament wraps up this Friday with games starting at 8 a.m. and includes a senior softball home run derby at 7:30 p.m. in Grand Park which is free to attend.
The ISSA will return to Myrtle Beach in October for their 2019 Fall Tournament, which features nearly 100 teams.