The Roanoker - July/August 2017 - 130
Top: Rick Burch is the
former fire chief of
Roanoke County and a
man who played and
organized softball for
years before moving to
Above: Morgan McAfee
finds softball to be
98 | JULY/AUGUST 2017
of two children. She's been
playing ball for 20 years. Her father, well known umpire Mac McCadden, and
brother have been heavily involved in athletics, as well.
Like so many other players, McAfee has found home
and family on the diamond.
"There was a homeless woman who was at one of our
tournaments," she says, "and we helped get her back
on her feet. This is a support system, even for those
who don't play."
For her, the comfort level is like this: "You walk into
a tournament like you're walking into a bar and by the
third game, you feel like you're in a bar anyway."
Retired Roanoke County Fire Chief Rick Burch is
65 now, thrice-married ("I've bought the same house
three times") and he's had two aftermarket knees and one
shoulder. The hips are looking a little dicey, too. Some of
that had to do with softball. "It wears on you," he says.
He began playing at 20 when he got home from Vietnam (where he won a Bronze Star). He had been a high
school football player and dabbled in track and basketball, but softball became a sports home for him when
he joined the fire department in Richmond. He played
for 25 years and helped set up the team from the fire department here after taking the RCFD job. He's coaching
now, retiring from playing "when I moved here [for the
fire chief job] because I just didn't have time."
It has been a game that helped give him perspective.
Bill Adams, a 64-year-old Woods Rogers litigation
paralegal, was born with polio and has been proving all
his life that the dread disease doesn't have to prohibit
activity. He grew up playing various kinds of ball on
and in high school helped
form the Vandals, a softball team of
Patrick Henry High athletes who played in the
Roanoke City open league. He hikes and bikes extensively these days.
He still plays, mostly pitching and asking for a substitute base runner, but "polio has never been a problem." His polio doctor when he was a child was the team
physician (and part owner) for the Boston Red Sox, he
says. The doc operated on Bill several times.
During season, softball can consume a good bit of
time, he says, but a lot of that "is cooking hot dogs and
drinking beer. It's social for us."
Charlie Hammersley and Kelly Minton are a couple of
aging notables from the fast-pitch era that some would
term "legendary." Minton, who is 86 and still coaches,
pitched for 45 years and threw five perfect games, had
15,000 strikeouts and more than 100 no-hitters. He
lives in Bedford now, and played mostly for teams east
of Roanoke, but was a member of the Scrappers and
was on a Bedford team that finished seventh nationally.
He played his last game at 78. He is in the Piedmont
Virginia Softball Hall of Fame.
Hammersley, 66, was a well-known Salem athlete-
mostly for football-when he picked up softball at 19.