Vernon Senior Softball bids farewell to most-senior player

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon/Region - posted Fri., Jul. 26, 2013
Ninety-two-year-old John Dufford (center) is honored for his years as a player and sponsor by Vernon Senior Softball commissioner Bob Lathrop (left) and public relations chair Dick Grote. Photos by Steve Smith.
Ninety-two-year-old John Dufford (center) is honored for his years as a player and sponsor by Vernon Senior Softball commissioner Bob Lathrop (left) and public relations chair Dick Grote. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Vernon Senior Softball League marked two occasions on July 24. Between games (the league usually plays back-to-back games on weekday afternoons), league officials paused to present a check to Foodshare, Inc. League Commissioner Bob Lathrop said the donation came through the league's fees, and there was a sense that they should do something to help out the many communities from which the players come.

“One of the guys on our board of directors wanted to do something for charity,” Lathrop said. “We have approximately 120 players in our league from across central Connecticut, so we wanted to sponsor something that would affect not just Vernon, but all of central Connecticut.”

Sarah Santora, community involvement manager for Foodshare, said the donation will help three pantries – the Hockanum Valley Community Council, the Cornerstone Foundation, and Iglesia Fuente De Salvacion Misionera – all of which are based in Vernon, but service multiple communities in Tolland and Hartford counties.

The league also presented a plaque to John Dufford, who is retiring as the league's oldest player. Dufford said he is “92 and a half.”

“When you get to be 90, you can add the half years,” he said.

Dufford has been playing in the league for about eight years, but began to have physical difficulties at the beginning of this year. He said he swung too hard in his one outing this season, and hurt himself. Then he decided to hang up his cleats.

Dufford was given a plaque by the league, for his efforts on and off the field. He has played catcher for the league's Falcons teams, while also being a sponsor.

While retiring from the league, Dufford says he still plays sometimes with the Rotary in Glastonbury, and hasn't retired from working. He still runs his company, Dufford Drilling Co., of Glastonbury.

“I still love this league,” Dufford said.

Lathrop said the league is playing a lot of make-up games, due to the recent heat wave, and is approaching the regular season's end in August, before starting tournament play. The league also sends teams to a tournament on Cape Cod, and Lathrop himself plays in Florida in the winter.

“We have a great bunch of guys,” Lathrop said.

For more information, visit www.vernonseniorsoftball.com.


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