Prince Fielder’s got nothing on 75-year-old Alan Oehrle.
Sure, Fielder hoisted the All-Star Home Run Derby trophy Monday night proving his power-hitting dominance across the major leagues, but he’s never been to Overland Park to compete in the Tallgrass Creek retirement community’s long-ball competition.
As residents took their best swings at softballs Tuesday morning in the community’s second annual home run derby, Oehrle, a retired data processer, dethroned reigning champion Dick Yates by launching a pair of round-trippers and clinching the title.
“I just wanted to get it over the fence,” Oehrle said.
It might not have been Kauffman Stadium, but Tallgrass Creek’s courtyard area — complete with wooden fencing serving as a makeshift outfield fence and plenty of shade to keep residents cool — provided pristine playing conditions for the young-at-heart retirees.
“We’d normally have (the home run derby) in June, but this year we held off to have it on All-Star Game day so we could bring out our all stars,” said Jill Cline, Tallgrass Creek’s community resource coordinator. “Most of them are from Kansas City, so the fact that the Royals are hosting the All-Star Game is a huge deal to them.”
Earlier this year, Cline said the retirees competed in a basketball shootout during March Madness to celebrate the University of Kansas’ appearance in the Final Four. And in fall, the community puts on a punt, pass, kick and dance competition where participants complete the three football-related tasks and then make up their own end zone dance.
“Our goal is to keep them doing what they enjoy doing as long as possible,” Cline said. “And our job is just to keep them healthy and safe while they’re at it.”
In the women’s home run derby, Karin Winn, 81, took home the top prize — a basket filled with a baseball-shaped water mug, baseball candies, and of course, peanuts and Cracker Jack.
Winn, who spent 30 years with the Kansas City school district as a teacher and administrator, said she had fun taking swings, but really enjoys watching baseball.
“I like to go out to the (Royals) games,” Winn said. “The best part about it is getting a sausage and sauerkraut — and beer.”
Oehrle, a baseball and softball player in his younger years, echoed Winn’s thought, though prefers a different venue.
“I like to watch baseball, especially when my grandson’s playing,” Oehrle said.
The community members have seen a lot of baseball — and they’ve still got some spunk and competitive drive.
“We’re not your typical retirement community,” Cline said. “This is much more like a college campus, except everybody has gray hair.”