Every time Gerry plays a game with the Beverly Farm Blue Jays softball team, he puts on his lucky socks.
The socks are plaid with the St. Louis Cardinals logo on it. He wears them all the way up to his knees.
“My team calls me ‘Socks,’” said Gerry, who purchased his socks at Target.
On June 29, Gerry wore his socks in a softball game against the Brighton Athletic Association squad at Betsy Ann Park.
The socks were a big help to Gerry. He smacked a two-run single in the top of the third.
“It was pretty good,” Gerry said. “I got a hit and I got on base.”
Gerry dedicated the softball game to his mother, Genevieve, who passed away July 10, 2015.
“It’s pretty sad for me playing the game without her,” Gerry said.
Gerry is one of 13 players on the Beverly Farm softball team, which is playing in its fifth season. The others are Isaiah, Josh, Steve, Doug, Patrick, Brent, Jimmy, Jeff, Kevin, Jonathan and two female players named Brooke — one is left-handed and the other is right-handed. The Beverly Farm coaches declined to give out last names due to privacy reasons.
“Most of them have been playing the whole five years of our softball program,” said Sandy Ferris, who is one of the Beverly Farm coaches. She also works as a safety and risk manager at the developmental disability center in Godfrey. “It’s coming together for us.”
Gerry said he enjoys being part of the Beverly Farm softball team.
“I like this team,” Gerry said. “I’ve been on this team for a long time.”
The Blue Jays had two reasons to celebrate after their game with the Brighton Athletic Association team, which comprised mostly coaches and board members. They came back from a 7-0 deficit to finish in a 14-14 tie and they received medals.
“I had a lot of fun today,” Patrick said.
The left-handed Brooke, who finished with three hits, said she was thrilled when she received her medal after the game.
“It meant a lot to me,” she said.
In May, Billy Timpe, vice president of the Brighton Athletic Association, had a meeting with several board members about having a Special Olympics softball game. So the organization contacted the Beverly Farm softball team.
“I didn’t know how it worked or anything,” Timpe said. “So we reached out to them and the ball just kept rolling.”
Timpe, the pitcher for the Brighton Athletic Association team, said the softball game was successful.
“It was a blast,” he said. “I was just glad that everybody participated. It seemed like everybody had a smile on their face. They really loved it.”
Now, the BAA and the Beverly Farm softball teams are making plans to play again later this year.
“We’re trying to schedule something again in the fall,” said Timpe, who has been part of the Brighton Athletic Association for three years. “We’ll probably do something like August or September time and with nice, good weather and stuff. They’ll appreciate it being under the lights.”
Founded in 1897, Beverly Farm is a home for adults living with intellectual and developmental abilities. It also has numerous activities such as track and field, equestrian and bowling.
Softball began at Beverly Farm in 2012.
“It comes out of our activities department and there was some interest among some of our residents that they wanted to be part of a softball team,” Ferris said. “Krista (Kell, secretary and activities and coordinator) and her staff made it happen. They went out and recruited us as coaches and pulled it all together. We’ve got some other volunteers. Emily Lamb is a teacher in the Alton School District and she’s one of our coaches and Cathy Allen is another one of our coaches. We’re out here having a great time.”
Kell, who is also one of the Beverly Farm coaches, said the team got its first taste of playing softball when it was playing the Bethalto Boys and Girls Club during its first year.
“We took some of our folks who we knew kind of were interested in playing,” Kell said. “I didn’t know what I was getting into. I thought they were going to teach us some skills and practice hitting. No, we were up there to play a game. Our team went up against a team that had six seasons under their belt and they were very, very good. We didn’t have a batting order. We didn’t know anything from anything. We were having a hard time hitting the ball. It was just rough. But Jeff hit a home run and ran all of the bases in high speed and proceeded to celebrate by doing a cartwheel and nearly breaking his neck. I knew then that we have to have a team because they were having so much fun.”
Ferris said all 13 of her players enjoy playing softball.
“We don’t start our practices until May, but it probably starts about in January when every time one of them sees me, they all want to know when softball practice is starting,” she said. “We could run a year-round program. They’re all here because they love it.”
The Blue Jays played their third game of the season on June 29 against the Brighton Athletic Association. They won their first two games.
“We’re winning more games than we’re losing these days,” said Ferris, whose team plays against developmental and disability center squads from Southern Illinois and Jacksonville. “So we’re coming up. We’re hoping this year will be our breakout year.”
Ferris said she was thrilled to see her team getting a chance to play in front of a large crowd under the lights at Betsy Ann Park.
“We’re so pleased to be invited to come out here to Brighton to play with the Athletic Association,” she said. “This is quite a treat for us to come out and play with the community and have our guys have the experience of playing out here under the lights. It’s really special.”
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