Dayton, Ohio has long been the home of people who survive and prosper when challenged. Without that spirit, Dayton would not be the home of many inventions and corporations that have changed the world – from the world’s first airplane, to the birthplace of General Motors, Delco and National Cash Register, to the hydraulic jump that helped pioneer modern hydraulic engineering. So it is with a group of older area citizens who don’t know the meaning of the word “quit”…
Senior softball in the Dayton area grew out of the vision of two men: George Cuny and Jim Zink. In the 1960’s, both played on the Springfield, OH-based Stroh’s teams (precursors of today’s super majors). After “aging out” of the open leagues, they founded the first 50+ league in the Dayton, OH region … what came to be called the Cuny/Zink Senior Slow-Pitch League, now administered under the auspices of the City of Dayton Recreation and Youth Services.
From a collection of players just getting together to hit a few balls, senior slow-pitch in Dayton has grown to incorporate eight 50+ recreation leagues, each with 4 to 8 teams. Additionally, the Cuny-Zink American League spawned the Dayton Legends softball club – a group of 6 select traveling tournament teams (50AAA, 55AAA, 60AA, 60AAA, 65AA, and 70AA). Today players come from as far as Cincinnati and Columbus to play in the many Dayton leagues.
It’s no secret that senior slow-pitch players come from many backgrounds and professions, but they all have one thing in common – their love of the game. And it’s no surprise that their league has become the topic of a documentary about senior softball that, initially, began in a totally different endeavor – music!
Jennifer Taylor is a Dayton-area photographer who specializes in rock and roll images. Tim Gebard – a Dayton singer/songwriter and musician, as well as a senior slow-pitch player – first met Jennifer when she shared some pictures she had captured at one of his performances. Over the course of several months, and introductions to other musicians, a small artistic community developed with an interest in doing a documentary film. When Tim suggested that “everybody in the senior leagues is a survivor who has a story to tell”, The Fall League movie came into being. Todd The Fox, a local musician, came in as an interviewer/narrator; Dean Vincent joined as a videographer/narrator/studio technician; and one of the players’ wives, Julia Hiatt Dalton, volunteered to help with any writing needs.
After receiving approval from the City of Dayton, league officers and team managers, filming started in the autumn of 2013 during the annual fall league. Players filled out questionnaires for the filmmakers to get baseline information. It turned out that the backgrounds were as interesting as the idea of making a documentary. There was a player who was at the Normandy invasion in World War II, and players who had never played softball until they joined the senior league. The roster included runners who completed marathons after the age of 65, and many players who are recognized as Hall of Famer’s in various locales. One statement applies to all: the men and women that the documentary follows love the game and everything that goes with it.
As the filmmakers discussed the project with others, everyone contacted was happy to be involved. Dr. Leon Speroff, who has written two definitive books on senior slow-pitch, joined the team and is featured in interview footage; Dr. Speroff is an advocate of the therapeutic value of senior slow-pitch. An expert in her field, Dr. Kathy Platoni – who focuses on veterans issues – provides commentary on the importance of slow-pitch and other team sports in relation to a well-balanced and healthy environment for seniors. Statistical information was volunteered by a national service. Camera-ready artwork was volunteered by major sports industry companies. Senior Softball USA published articles. Louisville Slugger® offered their encouragement and support, with Slow-Pitch Manager Dennis Turner stepping up for an on-camera interview. Hank Bassett, formerly with H&B and currently with USSSA, responded with his insight and commentary.
While the title “The Fall League” derives from a specific period of time in one place and in one season, it also considers historical perspectives, and parallels between team sport and veterans’ experience. It also refers to a broader perspective – how these senior players are redefining their later years in terms of activity, relationships, and acceptance (or lack thereof) of the limitations of the aging process.
Leon Speroff, M.D.
Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
Leon Speroff is Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. He is known worldwide for his textbook, Clinical Gynecological Endocrinology and Infertility, which has been translated into many languages and is now in its 7th edition. In his 2007 book A Slow-Pitch Summer: My Rookie Senior Softball Season, Leon chronicles his return to his first softball season in forty years.
His 2014 book Slow-pitch Therapy: Playing Softball Through Aches, Pains and Illness, he journals his personal challenges with knee replacement and rotator cuff surgeries, as well as lymphoma – and the underlying physical and psychological therapeutic values of senior slow-pitch softball.
Dr. Speroff grew up in northeast Ohio and continues to root for the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians. He lives in a rural area outside Portland, OR with his wife Sen. When not writing, lecturing or traveling, he can be found playing or practicing slow-pitch softball, riding his tractor or fly-fishing.
Dr. Katherine T. Platoni
War Trauma And Its Wake: Expanding the Circle of Healing
Healing War Trauma: A Handbook of Creative Approaches
Kathy Platoni has been a practicing clinical psychologist for 24 years, has recently returned to private practice in Centerville, OH and is Asst. Clinical Professor at the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology.
She served as commander of the 1972nd Medical Detachment (Combat Stress Control) at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from 2003-2004, then deployed to Iraq as Deputy Commander for Clinical Services, 55th Medical Company, and Officer In Charge of Team Air Ramadi.In October 2004, Dr. Platoni returned to Ft. Benning, GA, for her third voluntary deployment to provide reintegration services due to elevated numbers of psychological casualties among combat arms soldiers; she developed combat stress control, debriefings, and crisis management programs used throughout the U.S. Army. Kathy also voluntarily deployed twice to New York City to provide post-9/11 disaster mental health and debriefing services to NYPD first responders.
Dr. Platoni is a skilled hypnotherapist and possesses expertise in the sub-specialty areas of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), behavioral medicine, and the treatment of chronic pain and chronic, debilitating and terminal illnesses.
Among her many professional publications, Dr. Platoni has recently co-edited, with Raymond M. Scurfield, two books on the topic of war trauma: War Trauma and Its Wake: Expanding the Circle of Healing and Healing War Trauma: A Handbook of Creative Approaches. Both are available at:
Jennifer Taylor is an award-winning photographer specializing in documentation of the fine and performing arts in southwest Ohio. She is known for candid, intimate portraits. Her recent work in capturing music and theater performances have established her as Dayton’s go-to “rock ‘n’ roll” photographer. She got her start at the Rochester Institute of Technology, a noted leader in photography and visual communication.
Ms. Taylor grew up in the Southwest before later moving to the Northeast U.S. After finishing her program at the Rochester Institute in June, 2004 Jennifer moved to the Dayton area.
In addition to her photography award in the 2013 Spring CityFolk Festival contest, Jennifer’s recent work includes CD design and photography, and the music video “Delicate Nerves” from the album Welt Am Draht by Dirty/Clean.
For examples of Jenn’s photography, see www.jenniferfoto.com
Tim Gebard is an Ohio native who grew up in Springfield and later moved to Dayton. Active in sports throughout his school years, he began playing softball at age 18 during his college years. After turning 40 and “aging out” of open league softball, he returned to playing in the senior slow-pitch league after a hiatus of 20+ years. He plays left field and manages in the Cuny-Zink American League, and also plays for three other senior league teams.
Tim is an international award-winning singer/songwriter who began his musical career at the age of 59. He’s released two albums of original music (Unbroken Hearts and Closer To Gone) and a live performance DVD (Unbroken Hearts – Live at the Clifton Opera House). Currently, Tim is completing studio work on his third album of original songs: Better Angels, due out by December, 2014. Tim’s career has included management and executive positions in the restaurant, financial, healthcare and high tech industries.
The soundtrack for The Fall League movie is comprised of instrumental versions of his original music.
For more information about his music, visit www.TimGebard.com
Dean Vincent is a multi-talented visual artist, musician and IT professional. In addition to his involvement as a photographer and videographer in the production of The Fall League movie, Dean is the owner of Studio D in New Carlisle, OH, where the post-production and editing for the film occurred. All of the music used in the film was recorded and produced at Studio D by Mr. Vincent.
Dean has lived in Southwestern Ohio all of his life, where he developed his interests in music and photography as a student at Vandalia-Butler High School. He started playing guitar at the age of 6, joined his first band at the age of 10, and has been involved in music and music production ever since. He has produced 500+ CDs and numerous DVDs.
Dean says we should say that he was the 6th Beatle. (This cannot, however, be documented).
In addition to his “day job” as an systems analyst with a major financial services firm, Dean is an associate professor at Sinclair Community College, and serves on the University of Dayton MIS Advisory Board.