Bud Nolan, Knoxville Co-Ed Senior Softball

What does Knoxville need with another adult softball league?

This one is co-ed and it's for fun and health and recreation, that's what makes it go. The whole theme is that if you have the desire to participate, you will play. Oh, yes, and you must be 55 to play if you're female, 60 if you're a male.

How many can play?

I've got 58 signed up right now, and 20 are women. I'd like to have 100, and we could play as many as 10 teams at once. The youngest player so far is 55, the oldest 83.

How come it's free for the players?

I e-mailed Mayor Haslam, and he and Joe Walsh, the Deputy Parks Director, and Norm Bragg, the city's Athletic Director, rolled out the red carpet for us and are considered commissioners of our league. They provided the Caswell Park fields for free, when they would have usually cost hundreds of dollars, and a scoreboard. We have sponsors for shirts and hats, like the Karaoke Cafe, and we're looking for more.

But since the Mayor's only 49, he's 11 years away from being able to play in the league, right?

Not so, not so. We make exceptions for our corporate sponsors, commissioners, and those who help us get the word out, so the Mayor would be welcome to come out and play with us any time.

Does the co-ed approach create any romances?

Certainly that has happened. But something I'm more proud of is a woman in the Brandon league who came out just a few months after her husband died. She told me, "I don't know what I would have done without this league." And a 72-year-old man's family told us that he had been so despondent, and that playing in the league had made him like his old self again.

With your playing experience, are you too competitive for this league?

I was one of the blood-and-guts players—I played minor league for the Cincinnati Reds in 1948, out of high school, and I've pretty much played since then. But in your later years, you wonder, "Why does it have to be that way?"

And if you get the blood-and-guts urge?

I play in a competitive senior men's league in Halls, and that's a whole different ball game.