Different Generations Meet for a Unique Softball Tournament


jovenes_viejitos_tournamentWhat started out as a “dare-type thing” for John Alonzo has now become a large gathering of different generations of ball players that tests the experienced ‘old guys’ against the energetic ‘young guys’ in a softball tradition that has been growing year after year.  John decided to hold a Jovenes vs. Viejitos (Young Guys vs. Old Guys) Softball Tournament in 2002 in an effort to show the young guys that the ‘viejitos’ still have it.
“I was watching my nephews and son [playing] in East Moline and they weren’t playing well,” said John Alonzo.  “So I said I could get some of my old friends together and we could beat them.”
The first year they only had two teams and
the young guys won the first game ever but then the old guys came back and won the second and last game that year.  Today the tournament, which took place on a hot Sunday, September 2nd at Illiniwick Park in Hampton, Ill., has 4 different teams divided into guys in their 20s, 30s, 40s and a 50 and over team.  Their rules include a 5 run limit per half-inning and they don’t allow players to slide into base to avoid injuries.  The tournament also recognizes 3 MVPs, one from the guys in their 20s and 30s, another one for those 40 and older, and one for best performance in the Championship Game.  This year Alex Sandoval took the MVP for the ‘jovenes’, Mike Otis Ortiz received the ‘viejitos’ MVP and Doug Cortez won the Championship Game MVP when his 20s team defeated the 40s team with a final score of 12-7.
This year they also added a homerun derby – which Doug Cortez also won with 11 homeruns – and a breakfast where the older generations shared their baseball and softball stories with the younger players.
“A lot of us traveled and always played ball.  During the breakfast with the old timers we talk and reminisce,” said Mr. Alonzo.
That is one of the benefits that have come out of that “dare”, the whole community has come together and young and old are sharing stories while creating new memories and traditions that will be passed along to future generations. Alonzo says that there were 7 guys in their 80s and 90s that were talking about baseball at the breakfast, which makes many people “grateful because we came out and we are starting to remember the old fellows.”
Some that some of those stories tell of how baseball was the only thing that some of the first Mexican immigrants could do for fun when they worked for the railroad.  That is what they played in Holy City and the Cook’s Point area in Davenport, Iowa.
With kids everywhere, the cumbia music in the background, the enchiladas, tostadas and brownies, one might feel as though they are walking into a large family reunion, which in a way it is.
“It’s kind of an end of summer fiesta for us,” says Mr. Alonzo.
The ultimate goal for Mr. Alonzo – who is also an organizer for the Mexican Basketball League – is to create a Hall of Fame for all Quad City sports.  He also plans to have a fiesta for the 10th anniversary of the softball tournament.

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