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Softball players strike gold

John Keller plays at shortstop, while Jerry Ross connects on the gold-medal winning hit

Photo Credit: THE OUTLOOK: TROY WAYRYNEN - Jerry Ross and John Keller both Gresham residents display the gold medals they won in the 80-and-older softball bracket at the World Senior Games last month in St. George, Utah.Bases loaded, extra innings, down to their last out and, oh yeah, a gold medal on the line. That is the situation Gresham resident Jerry Ross faced when he left the on-deck circle for the ages 80-and-older softball finale at the Huntsmen World Senior Games last month in St. George, Utah. You would think he was walking across the kitchen to pull a soda out of the fridge.

“I happened to get a big hit,” Jerry Ross said.

In fact what he did was send a three-run double deep to left field to bring across the winning runs and close out a 29-27 victory over a team from Medford.

The team, sponsored by Oregon City Sporting Goods, is comprised largely of Portland-area high school graduates many of whom didn’t pick up a bat until they became grandparents. That is not the case for Ross and fellow Gresham resident John Keller, who were teammates on Oregon’s baseball team that played in the College World Series in 1954.

“We’ve played all our lives and some of these guys are newer to the sport, but we all learn from each other,” Keller said. “We can laugh at ourselves, laugh at each other, and still go out and be competitive. What more can you ask for?”

The Oregon City squad won all six of their games in Utah, sweeping Medford 6-4 and 29-27 in the title series. Keller is the team’s starting shortstop and was a part of five double plays in the final game.

“The guys happened to hit the ball right to us, so you flip it around and make the play,” Keller said.

The group plays a full summer season travelling from Vancouver to Eureka, Calif., for weekend tournaments.

“We could probably make a comic strip with all the characters we have — it’s a fun group,” Ross said. “Our bodies won’t do what our mind wants, but getting out there keeps us going — we still have a little left.”

Ross and Keller are veterans at the Senior Games bringing home more than a dozen gold medals over the years.

“We’ve had our share of good fortune,” Ross said.

When not competing, Keller hung out at the pool as often as possible, while Ross took in performances at the outdoor Tuacahn Amphitheater.

“It’s a beautiful place to visit — I enjoy every moment of it,” Ross said. “It’s heart warming to see so many active people who share your thought bubble about life.”


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