SEMINOLE — Clarence Faucett grew up playing baseball and softball, a passion that continued into adulthood. He played competitively even into his 70s and 80s as part of St. Petersburg’s Kids & Kubs senior program.
But in 2013, he was forced to take a break when his wife, who had Alzheimer’s, could no longer be left alone, even at adult day care. He stopped playing softball to focus on her health and well-being.
When she died in 2016, Faucett, 92, was drawn back into the sport he loved, but he knew he couldn’t play as competitively as he had in the past.
Rather than give it up completely, the Largo resident, with the help of a few friends, organized a slow-pitch hitting club that initially met at Whitesell Field and now meets at Azalea Park in St. Petersburg Wednesdays at 9 a.m.
Since then, they’ve added a second meet-up, the Lake Seminole Hitting Club, which plays Monday mornings, 9 to 10:30 a.m., at Lake Seminole Park, 10015 Park Blvd. N.
The hitting club welcomes men and women of all ages, although it tends to draw individuals from their 60s into their 90s, Faucett said. “Most of the people we get are a little bit older, but sometimes they’ll bring their kids or grandkids.”
Less competitive than a formal league, everyone who attends the hitting club gets three turns at-bat, taking their shot at 25 pitches total. They also get an opportunity to play the field, but they don’t run bases and they don’t keep score, Faucett said. “It’s basically about keeping people active.”
It’s the perfect activity for those who are unable to play competitively due to health reasons or who maybe have never played before, he added.
“Even if they’ve never played before, that shouldn’t hold them back from coming out,” Faucett said. “We’ll teach them the game and show them how to play.”
Kimberly Zirlott, 71, of Seminole, said the hitting club has replaced one of his three weekly gym workouts.
“It’s a lot more fun than the gym and a good workout,” he said. “Plus, you get to meet all of these guys. It gets you up and out of the house in the morning, and this is healthy for you.”
Daniel Ernest Christopher, 77, of Clearwater, agrees.
“I much prefer this to the gym,” he said. “It’s a much more fun way to stay active.”
Faucett added, “Staying active is so important at our age. If you can get out and do things, it’s a proven fact that it improves your quality of life. Come to hitting club, get some exercise, get out and meet people, and get some good exercise. And it’s fun. It’s really fun.”
The club is always looking for new players and anyone is welcome to join them on Monday mornings. The group is especially interested in finding some experienced pitchers.
“Pitching is usually an issue. Most people think it’s easy to throw the ball accurately, but it’s not true,” Faucett said. “We would enjoy more pitchers because I might, on a given day in Seminole, throw 300 pitches myself.”
Those interested in joining the Lake Seminole Hitting Club should show up on any Monday morning at 9 a.m. or call 727-385-8062 for more information.