Southern Wisconsin's Milt Friend Celebrates 73 Years of Playing Baseball
By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
I am no kid. I am 66 years old and continue to play through aches and pains and doctor's advice and that faint echo of wonderment coming from the other room as my wife listens once again to my annual 'one more year' speech. Why do I mention anything at all about me? Because there is a guy who resides in the middle of Packer country and Badger athletics who makes my desire to continue on this baseball trek seem like child's play.
Milt Friend is 80 years 'young' and has been playing organized baseball for 73 years. Milt decided to hang up the spikes after this past 2016 season as part of the league champion Grays in the 45+ division of the Southern Wisconsin MABL. He merely gave up 35 years to his younger teammates!
Think about Cal Ripken for a moment. Milt's achievement may not include consecutive games but for you younger guys out there, and you know who you are, do you see yourselves playing when the championship rings and the highlight films long cease and you go on the field for the mere unabashed love of the game? I know you all hope to, as did Milt, but sometimes life just gets in the way. You can't steal too many bases any more, your belt is screaming as you try to hold in the latest winter expansion and you notice the fielders moving in just a step, as you envision the day when you could easily 'burn' them but not quite any more.
Milt doesn't want the spotlight thrown his way but that's just too bad. I am old enough to know just how hard it is to continue playing, as many of you can attest to as I watch the senior divisions play in Arizona at our World Series. But they embrace every minute of it as they help each other up, always smiling with a respectful pat on the fanny and truly thankful at being able to still play. Milt is at the top of that list of special and highly respected players.
Go ahead and get mad at me, Milt. I just couldn't let such a wonderful story not be told. You are an inspiration to baseball players everywhere, amateur and professional. I would feel truly blessed to be able to make it to your milestone, even though my wife will have long stopped listening to my annual plea for leniency. Below are some shots from Milt's farewell game in a Grays uniform as part of the Southern Wisconsin MABL.