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From the Dugout - Death No Stranger

July 1, 2021

By Terry Hennessy

Death is no stranger to those of us in Senior Softball.

Happily, we celebrate life every time we play.

We love to share in our teammate’s joy in the milestones of their own lives; their children’s marriage, the first grandchild – and every grandchild thereafter – and their 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th wedding anniversaries.

And we share their pain when the road of life takes a nasty turn.

When a teammate and friend dies, the words on a page just can’t capture the fullness of their life or the sadness of our loss.

But sometime, though rarely, words do capture the essence of the loss with just a tinge of humor that we all know so well in the dugout.

My good friend and teammate John “Jack” Kocunik, 72 died on July 17 and his wife, Karren, indeed did capture the moment in true softball fashion in an email to my team, the Sacramento Islanders 70s:

“Jack slid home today and finished the game at 10:00 this morning.  His children will cheer him in the stands and his brother and sister will root him home and await their reunion in the hereafter. We will miss him.”

Terry Hennessy is chief executive officer of Senior Softball USA and can be reached at


John (Jack) Kocunik (1948 - 2021)

CARMICHAEL, Calif. - John “Jack” Kocunik, 72, of the Sacramento Islanders 70s, slid into home base on July 17, 2021. Jack died of COVID-19.  He had been vaccinated, but a medical treatment undermined the effectiveness of the vaccine and he succumbed to the illness.

Born in Syracuse, N.Y, Jack was an avid New York Yankees fan. He is preceded in death by his parents, John D. and Jane Kocunik. He was a graduate of Le Moyne College accounting program. He served as chief financial officer of Schools Financial Credit Union from 1978 until his retirement in 2011.

Jack’s love of his family and his friends was only matched by his love of baseball and softball. He loved to spoil his children and grandchildren, and many knew him for his legendary generosity.

He was a member of the Islanders Tournament Softball League (70’s and over league), and several other daytime leagues. Jack was proud of the fact that at the age of 70+ he could still pitch it over the plate. He was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, 4th Degree, and active member of Presentation Church Eucharistic Ministers.

He is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Karren, his sons Joseph (Diane), and Mike (Heather), four grandchildren (Tommie, Christopher, Alexandra, and Ava), and one great-granddaughter (Cadence). He also leaves behind a brother, Daniel, and two sisters, Mary Ellen and Joanne. He will be greatly missed.

Donations may be made in honor of Jack to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Catholic Mass to be held at Presentation Parish of Sacramento on Saturday, August 7, at 1 p.m., followed interment at Mount Vernon Memorial Park & Mortuary in Fair Oaks. A Celebration of Life to be announced.

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