EMASS Evolution: From Dream to Reality

EMASS Senior Softball was the brain child of Bill Maurhoff, a softball aficionado who longed to play the game with men his own age bracket. Back in 1994, Bill’s best opportunity was a weekend senior tournament on Cape Cod held every September. So… he pulled together a team and entered it.

Inspired by the Cape games, Bill set out to create a league that would enable seniors to play all summer long. That fall, Bill pitched senior centers and town recreation departments throughout Boston and the Metrowest to spread the word. With the Internet still a nascent resource, he placed player recruitment ads in local newspapers. Soon, droves of seniors began to call. Despite the time it took to talk to each potential player, Bill handled every call with diligence and enthusiasm.

As momentum for the new league grew, Bill’s leadership was bolstered by recruits like John Stewart and George Seeley. The dream took another giant step forward when Mark Waldron began generating an EMASS monthly newsletter. Mark also designed a PowerPoint presentation that the leadership team used for in-person meetings.

Recruitment was successful and the new four-team league debuted in 1995 with 82 players including a surplus of 21 participants who served as fill-ins. Most players hailed from Metrowest locales such as Sudbury, Framingham, and Natick. Others came from as far away as Medford and Quincy. The four teams were named Red Barons, Golden Oldies, Old Timers and No Town, later changed to Old Stars. Players paid a modest $50 fee that covered all games, a team shirt and hat, and color coordinated knee socks.

Games were played at the Sudbury, Wayland and Newton fields; one game a week for 15 weeks. The Sudbury field was home to the Red Barons and Golden Oldies.  Wayland hosted the Old Timers. The Old Stars were based in Newton. Back then, towns charged nothing, or a nominal fee, to use the fields. John Stewart managed the Newton field. Jerry Levin administered in Wayland, while Bill Maurhoff and Mark Waldron took charge in Sudbury. Umpires were members of the league and received no pay. EMASS also started travel team play in 1995, sending two teams to the Mass Senior Summer Games and the Cape Cod Tournament.

Of the 82 players who signed up in 1995, the league’s most senior member was Clay Allen, who played with the Red Barons. At 78, Clay was a retired colonel who finished his distinctive career at Raytheon. Clay’s foot-speed was a little slower than some of his teammates, but he wanted to run for himself. To Clay’s delight, EMASS initiated a rule that gave every player the right to full participation. This was a first step in constructing the league to ensure “active recreation” for all members.

After a successful opening season, EMASS leadership decided to keep the same team rosters sin 1996. This practice endured until the league adopted a policy to change team rosters every season via a draft or divisional coordinators’ selection. After founder Bill Maurhoff moved to Chicago in mid-season, Mark Waldron became EMASS’s second commissioner with John Stewart and Jerry Levin playing key roles in league management. From 1997-2000, Mark’s last year in office, EMASS added a new team every season. During this time, EMASS members Tom Comparato, Paul Rosenbaum, John Stewart, and Gerry Yaffe formed a committee to write the league’s first bylaws.

From the original single division and four teams, EMASS has evolved into five divisions and 31 teams. Of the 82 original players seven are still playing strong in EMASS: Ed Beauchemin, (79, Golden Oldies), Jerry Levin, 82, Old Timers, Paul Rosenbaum, 80 Old Timers, Don Sackman, 83, Old Timers, Fred Scerra, 1933, 83, No Town, John Stewart, 85 No Town, and Mark Waldron, 79, Red Barons.

Perhaps the legacy of EMASS is most poignantly illustrated in an anecdote from the 1996 season. Paul Rosenbaum’s wife Brenda brought their three-year old granddaughter, Eliana, to a game in Wayland, but the little girl couldn’t find Paul among the players in uniform and asked: “Which boy is grandpa?” When Brenda told Paul the story, he looked at her, smiled and reflected: “We are all boys of summer! Let’s play ball.”  

Written by Dave Brisson and Julian Puma