Play hard, have fun

Charlestown Sluggers softball team follows simple strategy

Created date

August 19th, 2019
The Charlestown Sluggers are all smiles after their win against the Riderwood Rockets at the 15th Annual Inter-Community Softball Tournament.

The Charlestown Sluggers are all smiles after their win against the Riderwood Rockets at the 15th Annual Inter-Community Softball Tournament.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn once said, “Remember these two things: play hard and have fun.” 

It’s good advice and a philosophy that the Charlestown Sluggers, a competitive softball team composed of men and women who live at Charlestown, abide by. 

‘I’d rather be playing ball’

“I liked to play ball when I was younger, so I decided to join the team,” says Lou Cuneo, the Sluggers’ shortstop and a retired Westinghouse industrial engineer. “We get a lot of exercise and joke around on the field and just have a good time. A lot of us get together later in the evening at the Terrace Café for a beer.” 

At 72, Lou could give most 40-somethings a run for their money. After a few health scares, he is laser-focused on staying in shape, a task made easier by living at Charlestown, an Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md. 

“When I’m not playing softball, I like to get outside and be active,” says Lou. “I enjoy walking, I lift weights, I do yoga, and I take a cycling class at the fitness center.” 

The Sluggers meet twice a week beginning in April to prepare for the annual round-robin tournament in June where they compete against sister Erickson Living communities Oak Crest in Parkville, Md., Riderwood in Silver Spring, Md., and Greenspring in Springfield, Va. 

Adoring fans

“It’s a lot of fun!” says coach Bob Nitsch. “We have cheerleaders, someone who sings the national anthem, and someone to throw out the first pitch.”

Bob joined the team two years ago after his sister-in-law, who also plays, encouraged him to give it a try.  

“The last time I played softball was back in the Army,” says Bob, who plays first base. “I’m a golfer, but honestly, now I’d rather be playing softball. It’s fun, and it’s good exercise. I enjoy going out, throwing the ball around, and trying to hit it.”   

Even bigger benefits

Studies show staying active can do more than just improve your physical health. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that those who regularly engaged in moderate exercise five or six times a week later in life also reduced their risk of mild cognitive impairment by 32% compared with more sedentary people, while those who began exercising at midlife saw a 39% reduction. 

“I’m way more active now than if I had stayed in my house,” says Lou. “My wife and I think this is the best move we ever made. All of the friends we have made and the social events we go to have been great. We just love it!”

Arthur Jones, who was born in Liverpool, England, joined the Sluggers two years ago. Up until then, he had never played a sport in his life. 

“After we moved, I approached the softball team and said to the coach, ‘I can’t run, I can’t throw, and I can’t catch,’ and he said, ‘Welcome to the team!’”

Arthur and his wife moved to Charlestown from Monkton in search of a maintenance-free home. 

“We looked at a couple of other communities, but we liked Charlestown because it was designed to be more like a large village,” says Arthur. “That meant there would be plenty of people to connect with and become friends.” 

That social connection is one of the things Arthur enjoys most about the Sluggers. 

“Because I’m English, they nicknamed me ‘sticky wicket,’” says Arthur. “It’s a lot of fun! We just go out there and play our hearts out.” 

Activities for everyone

If softball is not your thing, Charlestown offers plenty of other opportunities to stay active—from a state-of-the-art on-site fitness center, swimming pool, aerobics, yoga, cornhole, and bocce to walking paths, gardening, and half a dozen nearby golf courses.  

As for the Sluggers, in the first game of the tournament, they continued their record two years in a row defeating the Riderwood Rockets. Although they put up a good fight, the Oak Crest Good Guys took home the trophy defeating the Sluggers 15-5. The team returns this month from their summer hiatus and will finish up their season this November. 

At the end of the day, Bob says the team’s goal is to play their best, stay healthy, and have fun. 

“That’s what it’s all about,” he says.