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Feb. 1, 2010 – Norm Brooks

GREEN VALLEY, AZ. - The local Born Again Jocks Association was launched in 1997 when a group of men who had been active athletically in their younger years and had now retired here decided to incorporate an organization that would provide an outlet for their desires to relive their younger years.

In addition to running around the softball diamond, they also decided to focus on bowling, golfing, dancing, and doing good for their community through various volunteer activities.

Those include such things as umpiring Little League games, raising funds for needy causes, helping with hazardous waste collection, parking cars and shuttling people from parking lots at various events.

What began then with barely enough players to have a game has now grown to an organization of nearly 400 men and women, with about 125 of them playing softball on a regular basis. Only two women are active on the softball diamond, but, hopefully, more are taking note of BAJA and will sign up in the future.

From April through December, these players, minus the winter visitors (alias snowbirds), gather three days a week at the diamond, line up against the fence, number off, and do battle for a couple of hours, before retiring to the local watering hole to tell stories about how good they used to be. This watering hole serves mostly diet cola along with French fries and nachos.

Come early December, however, things begin to get serious. Volunteer managers _ this year there are 12 _ begin studying the roster of players who will be playing in the two leagues. The Recreational League plays double headers every Monday and Wednesday and the Patriot League plays on Fridays, all of this taking place from early January through March.

These managers meet, cuss and discuss, and hold a formal draft that determines which players they each will have to try and mold into a winning team, beginning the first week in January and ending with a double elimination tournament late in March.

Local merchants provide money for uniforms and equipment and, in return, receive publicity twice a week in the local Green Valley News as the game write-ups are printed. Uniforms consist of colorful T-shirts and hats with the sponsor's name on them, and players proudly wear these around town until they are worn to the point they become car wash rags and paint hats. We umpire our own games.

When the year has ended and most of us meet for the awards luncheon at a local eatery, where hats are given to the champions, plaques are given to those who have gone beyond the call of duty, and a wooden bat or two, with name burned into the wood, is presented, again to someone who has represented BAJA well by his or her deeds.

April comes and the winter visitors head back north. Those of us who live here go back to showing up three days a week, lining up against the fence-well, you know the rest of the story. It just doesn't get any better than this.

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