Zuri Berry: The best part is the people | TheUnion.com

Zuri Berry: The best part is the people

There’s a lot of reasons why I like this county, but the chief export of my cheery moods is, and always will be, the people.

All in all, the essence of the community is captured in the good people of Nevada County. It’s their good nature that makes this what the locals call Gold country.

That very same good nature is not just exemplified on the athletic field of choice, but in the stands, bleachers and concession booths at an athletic event near you.

Such was the case Tuesday night as the Gold Country Senior Softball Association played its all-star games, two entertaining blowouts for spectators and league members alike at Penn Valley’s Western Gateway Park.

In fact, the 50-59 year old all-star game got so hairy in the seventh inning, it looked like the East was primed to pull out of a 26-11 hole and stage a comeback against the West, upstaging any side activity. They ended up falling 26-18.

Despite their age, the 60 and older all-stars played to a much quicker beat, with the South defeating the North 24-7. The South compiled four innings in which they scored five runs, a mercy point to keep the games going and somewhat fair.

It was action worthy of some proudly spewed smack talk from both winning teams.

But the action on the field was somewhat secondary to the attraction of the event – the people. Specifically, senior softball attracts some of the most prominent members of our community and just some good natured fellas as well as their families.

I spent a good part of my day at the event just shooting the breeze with folks, who all seemed to have tentacles in our thriving community. Everybody seemed to wonder how we survived through the smoke. Some wondered how the guys on the field were playing through it all. I wondered the same about those Thursday night market folks.

Fire seemed to be the lively conversation as we were breathing the particles of dust and dirt being kicked up by guys thrice my age circling the bases of a little league field.

But they battled through it, made some spectacular plays – a lot of folks missed – and we laughed about the volleyball-ish scores.

It was also funny to see The Union’s publisher Jeff Ackerman heckled by teammates and opponents alike for missing a pitch at catcher. It was funnier to see him as a commentator for TouchDown Productions: Game of the Week.

To see the good guys of this community play some top notch softball, is an invitation in itself. The Gold Country Senior Softball Association touts three members in the national senior softball hall of fame, including Jim Tetzlaff who pitched for the 60’s North team Tuesday night.

So when his team was rocked for three homers in the first inning – Bob Hannah, Bill Wilson and Harvey Lathrop’s contributions – those in the stands got a clear understanding of the difference in the game: a hitter’s paradise and skewed for excitement.

But is it surprising that a blowout wasn’t needed to enjoy a good time out, a trip to the park in sunny Penn Valley, singing along to “God Bless America” and some pretty good burgers? I don’t think so.

The general feeling is that folks knew ahead of time that going to an all-star senior softball game meant they were going to see some all-star personalities playing softball.

Sign me up for that any day, any time.

Zuri Berry is a sports writer at The Union. His column appears Wednesdays. You can also read his blog online at TheUnion.com/blogs/sports. You can contact Zuri via e-mail at zberry@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

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