COLUMBIA — After winning a gold medal on Sunday, the Kansas City Barons celebrated by giving 55-year-old player Mark Smith an ice bath.
The Barons defeated 50 Caliber St. Louis, a St. Peters-based softball team, 18-2 in the Missouri State Senior Games on Sunday at Rainbow Softball Center in Cosmopolitan Park.
Both teams are considered to be major level by Senior Softball USA, which means that both teams travel around the country playing in major tournaments.
Each team has also had its fair share of success in recent years. The Barons won the Senior Softball World Championships two years ago, and 50 Caliber St. Louis placed second last year in the Championships and won gold at the Missouri State Senior Games last summer.
"We play a lot," Smith said. "We've played in stadiums, it's real fun."
Smith's team not only plays a lot, but puts in a lot of practice as well. The Barons practice indoors when it’s not suitable to play outside and do weight training to stay competitive. Some Barons drive halfway across the state just to meet up with the team.
Columbia spectator Rick Hudson said he was drawn to the stands overlooking Purple Field because he was enthralled by the idea of fierce competition between the two teams.
"They are a fundamentally sound team, they know when and where to hit the ball," Hudson said about the Barons. "They don't make mistakes."
Though some games can seem very relaxed with teams scoring as much as 30 runs, games can also be grueling under the baking sun and swirling dust. On top of that, players have to sacrifice time and money to participate on a regular basis.
"Everyone's gotta get off work and be able to afford it," Glen May, of 50 Caliber St. Louis, said.
For the Barons, a quick ice bath was their celebration party. The team didn’t go to Shakespeare's for a pizza or Harpo's for a celebratory beer. Instead, they packed up their bats, gloves and gold medals and drove straight home.
"At our age, it's a game of attrition, you get very tired," Smith said. "It’s not just about being good, it’s about being able to last."