Manchester woman Shirley Karper was inducted to the 2020 class of the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame, located in Mustang, Okla.
“It’s a great honor for me because I’ve played softball since I was a child. Even during my military career and during tours overseas. I’ve managed to continue playing the sport,” Karper said.
“I’ve played softball on three continents. And actually there was a break in playing because about 20-30 years ago there were limited opportunities to play for older players.”
Karper said that when senior softball started up there were only two organizations in America and players were restricted to those 50 and up.
“There was a definite break in my competitive playing as the opportunities for older players were limited.
Now there are many softball associations that include, Senior Softball Association, International Senior Softball Association, Independent Sports Association and Senior Softball-USA. Additionally, many cities and states offer local tournaments for seniors and adults from 35-50 years old.
The NSSHOF recognizes players, managers, directors, umpires and those who have achieved highest honors in senior softball. To qualify, players earn a required number of points for being on an all-tournament team playing in a national or world senior tournament. Points begin to accrue at age 50 and players must participate for 10 years. Higher points are awarded for playing on a major team verses a lower division. Candidates are voted on by members of the hall of fame and by the associations.
Karper said that all-tournament team members are picked from the top two or three teams in a tournament.
“It’s a given that I’ve played on some very competitive teams. My first was Touch of Class, a 50s major team, coached by Gale Harris of Portland,” Karper said.
Gale wanted to play, and the team was converted to Tennessee Stars, a major team to be coached by Will Grandstaff, of Lebanon.
By 2012, Karper had acquired enough points to qualify for the hall of fame, though she had to wait to reach the minimum age.
Karper said that this year has been a challenge due to the pandemic, with many games being canceled.
The class of 2020 included 24 inductees.
For information on how you can join a team, go to www.sshof.org and look for the associations’ links.