You're in! Women's baseball team still pitching at 70

Wed Jul 15, 2009 5:41am EDT
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By Chika Osaka

OSAKA, Japan (Reuters Life!) - It may be late in the game, but Japan's septuagenarian Osaka Silver Sisters aren't hanging up their baseball gloves and bats any time soon.

In matching red and white uniforms, 75-year-old captain Mineko "Mimi" Khosaka and her fellow teammates pitch, hit and run with vigor, belying a range of health problems that range from bad backs, wonky knees, a missing kidney and a pacemaker.

"It feels great when I get a hit, but even better if I can run fast! It's difficult, but I try to make it to first base on time," Khosaka, who turns 76 in August, told Reuters.

The team consists of 11 players who were stars of Japan's professional women's baseball league about half a century ago and who decided to give the game another go four years ago despite their advancing age.

Baseball is very popular in Japan and the players meet every Friday for an hour of practice followed by a game with a much younger, all-boys team -- which they often win.

The women's technique is just as good as younger pros -- Khosaka catches behind her back, just like Major League Baseball star Ichiro Suzuki -- but head-first slides and base steals are, understandably, out of the question.

"I'm really surprised by the level of their baseball," said Hajime Morioka, captain of the Nakayoshi Genki Club which plays against the Osaka Silver Sisters.

"The ladies often ask me to pitch faster. Some of them are strong hitters as well, so I'm just stunned."   Continued...