NAPERVILLE, Ill. (AP) - You don’t need a baseball diamond carved from an Iowa cornfield to find your own Field of Dreams.
Just ask 80-year-old Chris Argianas, who can still drive the ball to the outfield, hustle around the bases and make some nifty scoops while playing first base in his senior softball league.
Is this heaven? No. It’s Naperville.
“At my age,” Argianas says, “every day you are out here playing ball is a good day.”
He can’t say enough about the Naperville Men’s Senior Softball League and the teammates he’s played 12-inch fastpitch softball with for the past nine years.
“There is not a bad egg in the bunch,” he says. “Everybody that comes out here loves to play softball. If we could play four days a week, that’s what we would do.”
The league, sponsored by Naperville Park District, features about 40 guys — many retired — who range in age from their late 50s to their 70s. The two-hour games are played Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from April until October at Gartner Park along 75th Street.
Argianas, a native of Woodridge, spent 42 years working for AT&T; as a cable engineer.
“We engineered central offices for their main switches for telephone equipment,” he says.
Now, though, he’s less interested in phone lines and more interested in what happens between the foul lines.
“I play with good ballplayers and they inspire you to play harder,” he says. “When we come out here to play ball, it’s good exercise. Guys like George Pappas, who plays in Florida, and others who play in Joliet are all outstanding ballplayers and fun to be around.”
Argianas says baseball long has been part of his life.
“When I was in the service, I played All-Army fastpitch and we went to the All-Army tournament and finished in second place,” he says. “I had never played fastpitch softball, but I played hardball in junior college and I played softball in the suburbs and I sure enjoyed it. When you are 19 years old, there’s a lot of things you can do.”
Turns out there’s a lot you can do when you’re 80, too. All it takes is a bat, a ball and some guys who want to do more than just have a catch.