Elderly Surgery Patients Face Off in Softball Game

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    NEWSLETTERS

    They've all had surgery and are 69 or older. But they don't let that slow them down -- these two teams face off in regular softball games. (Published Thursday, Jul 28, 2011)

    Call it softball for the ages -- a game where every player was 69 or older AND a survivor of surgery.

    The game for the Long Island Senior Softball Association on Wednesday featured two teams of former surgery patients.

    One, known as the "Cardios," was made up of men who have endured heart surgery -- everything from valve replacement to bypass. The other, known as the "Orthos," featured recipients of knee, hip and shoulder replacements.

    "Sometimes we call ourselves the zipper club," said catcher Vinnie Valenti, 78.

    Valenti underwent triple-bypass surgery just four years ago.

    "I never thought I would be back on the field," he said. 

    In another time, the injuries would probably have confined many of these men to taking it slow indoors. Now, they compete in two doubleheaders a week with the joy and passion of kids.

    "It's what they do with medicine and it's just great," said Tom Crenades, 75, who had knee-replacement surgery eight months ago.

    Sometimes, their loved ones worry about how far they push it.

    "I tell him to take it easy sometimes," said Valenti's wife, Fran.

    But like all those watching, Fran Valenti marveled at both the power of modern medicine and the human spirit.

    "They're re-living their childhood and enjoying every moment," she said.

    Final score on this day was Orthos 9, Cardios, 7.  The game and the league are sponsored by, what else, the Bristol Assisted Living facility.