He’s adjusting to the designated hitter role, but Nick Ioimo misses playing the field.
In a recent scrimmage with his Redwood City Señors Softball Club, Ioimo was patrolling right field when he took one on the noggin.
“A line drive,” Ioimo said. “They have those 50-year-old kids out there; man, they can hit the ball.”
Ioimo will be 92 on April 24, so from his vantage point, most of his teammates in the ages 50-and-over senior softball league are kids.
Lean and fit, Ioimo — with the physique and hairline of his hero, Joe DiMaggio — downplays the shot to the head and is angling for a return to his spot in the outfield.
“I’ve recovered,” Ioimo said, replaying the details of what he views as an incidental setback. “I shook my head, got right back on the field. They said, ‘Hey, you got blood on your face.’”
With his large, strong hands befitting an athlete of larger stature, Ioimo emphatically made his point to his mates: “No problem, I have a hard head,” he said.
The 5-foot-6, 168-pounder admits to having never possessed a strong throwing arm, but oh, could he hit the ball.
The Bronx native, who grew up playing stickball and sneaking into Yankees games in the 1920s and ’30s, compares his game to ex-New York Giant Mel Ott, another compactly built power hitter.
“You’re always hitting those fly balls,” Ioimo’s wife Florence, who died in 1999, would tell him. “Yeah, but they’re home runs,” Ioimo would retort to Florence, his “inspiration” and mother of their four sons.
Ioimo’s two younger sons, John and Tom, live in Redwood City, but curiously, the softball gene seems to have skipped a generation in the Ioimo clan. Ioimo’s boys don’t play, but three of his four granddaughters have picked up the game. In all, he has nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
With family, softball and weekly excursions to the horse races, Ioimo maintains a happy and positive disposition with no serious health issues.
“I’m young, I’m not old,” Ioimo said. “I don’t even think of the word.”
But he’s also not in denial about the aging process. On March 1, he relinquished his car keys.
No problem, though, as Ioimo finds plenty of willing teammates who are happy to drive their most senior player to the Señors’ games.
Ioimo occasionally still launches one, but he’s more of a placement hitter these days. And, he’s quick to point out that there’s more than just softball to the Señors Softball Club.
“[We have] a nice Christmas dinner, and I dance with every girl on the dance floor before I leave,” Ioimo said with a wink.
Redwood City Señors Senior Softball Club
GAMES: 150 per year, Tuesdays-Thursdays year-round
WHERE: Griffin Field at Red Morton Park, Redwood City
SURFACE: Artificial turf (easier on the knees, balls bounce true)
PLAY BALL: Call board member Dennis Logie at (650) 520-5607 or visit www.seniorsoftball.us
FEES: $45 per year — includes new balls each day and occasional instruction from ex-Giant Terry Whitfield.