What do you get, when you cross a judge, a former Minor League Baseball player, a UPS driver, a brain research scientist, a Realtor, a police officer and other professions? You get Team Flagler.
In 2011, the travel team was formed through the Flagler County Softball League, of men from various walks of life, who joined, looking to continue in the game so many of them have been playing since grade school. Not only have these players attained a home to play ball, but they’ve also found a group of men they call friends.
“Everybody gets along well out there,” said player Tom Knott. “All of us know each other, unlike a lot of other teams. We practice and play all week long together. We enjoy the camaraderie.”
That closeness has allowed Team Flagler to become one of the top softball teams in the world, although they have been together for such a short time.
“When we play teams that have been together for 10 years plus, it’s very hard to beat them, with our team being so new,” said Jim Zgorzelski, a former Minor League player in the Red Sox’s organization. “Basically, that’s what we’re doing now. We’re starting to get some experience; we’re almost there.”
Team Flagler takes 15 players to each tournament, and, depending on performances at practice and in games, rosters alter. While everyone in the Flagler league can’t play on Team Flagler, the guys still support the team, when they go out.
“We have guys in the league that probably want to play but can’t,” Zgorzelski said. “But, they still pat us on the back, if we win. They like our team, and are proud of our success because they’re in the same league with us. When we bring championship banners back to Flagler, we hang them up on the fence at our field.”
Team Flagler members play year-round, and, with a little help from different supporters, they fund all of their expenses. The guys will get to rest in August, which is their only “down” month.
At the average age of 62, team manager John Martellucci says softball is the way they can still socialize. “Otherwise, we’ll be sitting at home watching TV,” he added.
But, don’t let their age fool you. Like some younger teams, they’ll shock you, if you don’t take them seriously.
“When I first got into this league, I hadn’t played in 15 years, and this guy told me not to worry about it because everyone was old,” Zgorzelski said. “The first guy up hit the ball into the outfield and sprinted to second base. I said, ‘No way!’ If you climbed up a hill and watched these seniors play, you would swear they were 20-year-olds, except everybody gets tired after a few games.’”
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
In just four years, Team Flagler has won six championships, including three straight Florida Half-Century State Championships (2012-14), and an ISSA World Tournament of Championship.