For Jacobson family, playing softball together continues to be a big hit
JANESVILLE Gary Jacobson's wish was to play softball with his oldest son, Scott, before Gary hung up his spikes.
That wish came true for the Janesville resident—and then some. Not only does Jacobson, 69, play Wednesdays for Wiggy's/brewcrewbus.com with oldest son, Scott, 47, but he also plays with sons Shawn, 37, and Steve, 33; four grandsons, Mike, Aaron, Mark and David, and daughters Shari and Shelly in a Friday co-ed league at Dawson Field.
"I wanted to play until my first son got out of high school and could play with me," Jacobson said. "I turned 35 back then, and I didn't know how long I'd play, but another (son) graduated, and we played together, and now all of us play, and my grandsons, too."
Scott said softball was just part of the family's lifestyle.
"I remember all the weekends being at ball fields somewhere and dad playing in a tournament," Scott said. "My mom (Diane) is a seamstress and sewed us custom-made uniforms to match my dad's. I couldn't wait until I was old enough to play, and I've played with him for 30 years."
Shawn thinks his father's ability to play as he nears 70 years old is outstanding.
"I hope to be doing the same thing," Shawn said. "To be in that kind of shape has been an inspiration to me. He plays the same way as always."
Jacobson still has the chops, going 5-for-5 in Wiggy's/brewcrewbus.com's last regular-season game two weeks ago.
"He's like a surgeon at the plate," said Steve, who—along with Scott, Shawn and their sisters—is a Parker High graduate. "He can hit the ball down both lines. If stats were kept, I think dad would have the leading batting average."
In the field, the elder Jacobson holds his own at catcher on Wednesdays and at pitcher on Fridays.
"He can still make the plays," Scott said. "Dad's smart."
Jacobson said he's been blessed with good technique and a sharp eye at the plate, but he wouldn't mind hitting the long ball, too.
"I've never been able to hit the fence," Jacobson said.
What Jacobson lacks in power, he covers with stamina. Jacobson competes in a 55-and-over league Wednesday mornings in Madison, as well as the Wednesday and Friday night leagues in Janesville.
"It's amazing the number of games he plays," Scott said. "He'll play two (games) in Madison on Wednesday and play with us."
Jacobson said the Madison senior league is a treat for him.
"There are a lot of good ball players and some guys in their 70s," Jacobson said. "It's relaxed softball."
Jacobson began playing softball in 1964 when he settled in Janesville with his family. In his softball heydays, Jacobson played for traveling teams sponsored by Saxer's Sporting Goods and Brodie Trophy.
"We had good teams back then," said Jacobson, who played mostly in the outfield. "Most of the guys on those teams were 35-40. We got into the older league and played tournaments in Georgia and Alabama."
Jacobson has lived his dream of playing ball with his children, but the family enjoys the opportunity at least as much.
"It's been neat for our family to get together every week," Scott said. "It's a good time to play with my dad and see each other on a weekly basis."
Ken Veloskey is a sports writer for The Gazette.