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View from the pitcher’s mound

Robert Roenigk is the longest-running player in the Harris County Senior Softball League

Created date

May 21st, 2014
man holding a baseball bat

Long and lean and still imposing at 88, Robert Roenigk cuts an impressive figure as he strides to the pitcher’s mound.

“Bob’s a legend around here,” says Kent Arceneaux, team manager. “He’s played in this league longer than anyone else.”

The Harris County Senior Softball League (HCSSL), formed in 1981, is a slow-pitch softball league for men and women 50 years and older.

“In early 1981, I answered an ad in the newspaper for a new softball league in Houston,” says Robert. “I played in the league’s very first game when I was 55, and I’ve been playing ever since.”

The league plays year-round, thanks to Houston’s mild climate, with a summer season that runs from April to mid-October and a winter season that runs from November through early-March.

More than 300 players registered for the 2014 summer season, forming 28 teams.

“When you sign up on the HCSSL website, you sign up as an individual,” says Robert. “The league is divided into four divisions: United, National, American, and Continental. Players are assigned to a division and a team based on ability, not age or gender.”

Team Eagle’s Trace

The league relies on corporate sponsors to provide team jerseys. Trace, the Erickson Living community where Robert lives, is sponsoring his team for the summer season.

“We’re thrilled to sponsor Robert’s team,” says Pam Burgeson, sales director at Eagle’s Trace. “We encourage our residents to celebrate and embrace life, and Robert certainly does that through softball.”

Robert’s Eagle’s Trace jersey is the latest in a long line that follows his journey over the past 33 years.

“This is my 67th season to play in this league,” says Robert, a retired consulting actuary. “I’ve played every winter and summer season since the league began.”

Teams play at Bayland Park, south of downtown Houston, Monday through Thursday.

“I play twice a week,” says Robert. “This season, the Eagle’s Trace team plays on Mondays and Wednesdays.”

The league boasts several well-known players. Former Houston Astro Roger Clemens and his agent Randy Hendricks joined the league when they turned 50. 

“We have players from all backgrounds, so I’ve played with a wide range of people over the years,” says Robert. “I used to play shortstop, but in recent years, I’ve started pitching.”

Lifelong hobby

Robert’s love of the game can be traced back to his childhood. 

“I played on church softball teams as a teenager,” says Robert. “It’s always been one of my favorite pastimes.”

In May 2013, Robert and his wife Georgie moved from their home in Sugar Land to Eagle’s Trace, where Robert works out in the community’s fitness center six days a week.

“I don’t miss the maintenance that comes with owning a home,” says Robert. “Now I’m free to focus on the things I enjoy, like softball.”

With no intention of slowing down, Robert says his record as the longest-running player is safe.

“I’ll keep playing,” he says. “It keeps me young.”