Hess, Clementi and Drozd are 'elder statesmen'

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
From left are: Herb Hess, Tony Clementi and Jimmy Drozd.

Jeff Snyder

Guest writer for the VJ

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles introducing members of the Spring River Seniors' softball squad. As the title indicates, first up are the three oldest players on the team.

Herb Hess

Herb was born in Milan, Michigan in 1935; he just hit the big "80" this past May. He worked for General Motors in Lansing, Michigan for 30 years before he retired to Horseshoe Bend in 1989. Herb is a devoted husband and has been married to his wife, Stella, for 59 years. Stella is one of the team's biggest fans and rarely misses a game. Herb and Stella have four children - two sons and two daughters. They have 12 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Herb had been active in softball for many years back home and joined a local senior team in 1990 as a first baseman. He says, "I've always liked baseball and I really look forward to the fellowship and friendships with the other players." When he gets a chance, he also enjoys fishing. We have given him the nickname The Mad German just because it seems to fit, even though he enjoys a laugh as quick as the next guy. Herb is one of Spring River's two primary pitchers and is one tough hombre. He has a history of COPD, had rotator cuff surgery back in 2000, and just had hip replacement surgery last year (2014), but none of these have kept him off the softball field for very long! Herb and Stella have become good friends with this author and the team values his long term commitment to the game.

Tony Clementi

Tony hails from Chicago, Illinois. Tony was born in 1934 and will turn 81 in October. As a young man, he worked many years in the medical supplies industry. He and his wife, Pat, moved to Cherokee Village in 2001, where they still reside today. They have three children -- two sons and a daughter, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. Tony has always been pretty active and joined the senior softball circuit as soon as he moved to this area. In his younger years, The Italian Stallion played third base, but spends his time behind the plate as the Spring River catcher these days. Tony says, "I enjoy playing softball; it keeps me in shape and I look forward to the comradery with the guys." Tony's other hobbies include pitching horseshoes and bowling. He has been blessed with good health all his life and attributes this to the fact he has remained active. Tony is amazing -- despite the fact he is our oldest player, he is our lead-off hitter and sets the table for our big hitters. He sets the standard for the rest of the team to stay in shape and we all just shake our heads as we watch him scoot down the first base line and beat out those infield hits! Tony is a team player and always avails himself to whatever needs doing around the softball diamond.

Jimmy Drozd

Jimmy was born in Wallis, Texas in 1936. As a young man, he worked as a chemical plant operator for Nalco Chemical Company in Texas and Louisiana. He moved to the Ozarks in 1996 and currently resides in Cherokee Village. Jimmy has three children, five grand-children, and one great-grand child. He has been playing senior softball in this area since 1999. Initially, he played first base and the outfield; these days he platoons at catcher and first base. Jimmy says, "Softball keeps me active and in shape; it keeps me from spending too much time on the couch watching TV. I particularly like the comradery and just having fun with other players and wives." His hobbies include pitching horseshoes, playing wallyball, and bowling. Jimmy has also been blessed with good health and turns 79 years old next month. He has earned the nickname The Judge because of his common sense approach to controversial issues. Jimmy has a great outlook on life and doesn't worry about the things he can't control. He believes laughter is the best medicine and just takes life one day at a time. Jimmy is a real team player and doesn't hesitate in taking on all the little things that need doing on the ball field; I use Jimmy as a "sounding board" all the time and appreciate his advice on things!

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