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Ray Tibbs 60+ Softball League to begin play Thursday

Games set for Shady Oaks Park in Fort Myers; more players welcome

By CHUCK?BALLARO - | Jan 5, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the Ray Tibbs 60+ Softball League just as it was about to finish its season last year.

Undaunted, the league will kick off its 18th season on Thursday at Shady Oaks Park on Marion Street in Fort Myers, behind Terry Park and continue through mid-March.

And it’s not too late to sign up as the league looking for more players.

Scott Marinelli said the league is strictly recreational and not meant to be overly competitive. It is for people 60 and over who just want to make friends and get out in the sun to play.

“We just want to have a good time and get some exercise. There are no other 60-plus men’s leagues and no other league that equalizes teams,” Marinelli said. “We don’t allow teams to choose players that will dominate the league like other leagues.”

The league started in 2004 by the man the league is named after. Tibbs discovered there wasn’t a league for older players. Since the city or county didn’t have a rec league for them, he started one of his own.

Tibbs, now 94, turned the reins over to Marinelli two years ago, with the goal of having as many competitive teams as possible and to make sure everyone has fun.

“The idea is to have fun, laugh and joke. It helps because the guys who aren’t so good will be encouraged to do better, and they usually do,” Marinelli said. “It also improves the quality of life for people. They are healthier because they’re moving around and have a better attitude, are having fun and reducing stress and anxiety.”

So far, Marinelli has 80 players signed up, with the question being how many will actually play. He would like to have one pitcher and catcher per team.

Marinelli said with many players still up north because of the pandemic, especially those from Canada, where the border is closed, he plans to field just eight teams instead of 10 like he had last year.

Marinelli has set up hundreds of signs throughout Lee County, especially in North Fort Myers. Unfortunately, Marinelli said some of those signs along U.S. 41 in North Fort Myers have gone missing, especially in the areas where the retirement communities are.

Sign-ups are continuous because not all players can make every game due to family obligations or work, and people get hurt at that age. It is open to all Lee County residents, but North Fort Myers has been a primary target with all its retirement communities.

For more, call 239-703-3942.