DeLong pitches for AFSAC-D, which is 8-1 and tied atop the Tuesday Division standings headed into the postseason. He also entered the week batting .727.
“He has been doing this for so long, and he is an integral part of not only the past teams, but this team as well,” said AFSAC-D coach Jeremy Law said.
Making friendships and finding a perfect way to bond with co-workers and teammates is more important than winning or losing, DeLong said.
“What I’ve found through the years is getting to know a co-worker in a relaxed, social environment goes a long ways toward interacting and resolving the work issues with these individuals,” he said.
Playing any sport at age 63 can be an uphill challenge physically.
DeLong said he’s been fortunate to maintain his health these past four decades and attributes that to the reason he can stay active in softball.
“Being a little guy, I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had no injuries and I’m able to play at the same level I did 40 years ago as far as running, throwing and hitting,” he added. “Several of my friends have had to retire from the sport due to knee or shoulder wear and tear or injuries.”
DeLong’s impressive playing streak, however, can also be attributed to the sheer love of sports his father instilled in him many years ago.
“Sports has always been a big part of my life and softball in particular,” he said. “Growing up, my dad encouraged me to play baseball and he coached me in baseball for almost 10 years, so sports was always in my blood.”
Despite the longevity, DeLong understands it won’t last forever. He acknowledges age will eventually catch up to him but maintains the confidence he will carry on swinging the bat until his body says so.
“When I turned 50, I started playing coed leagues with my daughters and found that to be very enjoyable,” he said. “At that point, I decided every subsequent year would be a bonus and the decision to continue playing would be a year-to-year decision and would be dependent on my being physically able to maintain the same level of play with no drop-off.
“It’s 13 years later and I’ve been blessed to maintain the running and throwing skills, so I guess I’ll keep playing until my body says it’s time to quit.”