*This story was featured in the Hastings Tribune on June 22, 2016.
A group of more than 75 senior citizens filled the stands at Duncan Field on Tuesday evening during a pair of American Legion baseball games as a part of the annual Good Samaritan Society’s Senior Night.
The night allowed seniors to enjoy a night of baseball and fun.
“This will be the second year we’re doing this,” said Sandrea Marx, Good Samaritan Village’s community relations coordinator. “We started it last year. I thought, why not have a senior night at Duncan Field? So I invited all the other senior groups in town and brought a group out here for the evening to enjoy one of America’s pastimes — baseball.”
Adults 55 and over were given seat cushions and a coupon for a free popcorn and a 16-ounce soda. Some seniors also were involved in the game as a group from Good Samaritan Village sang the national anthem, while one lucky senior was chosen to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Jimmie Meers, 68, a Good Samaritan Village resident and veteran, was chosen to throw that pitch.
Meers admitted he was nervous upon hearing that he was selected.
“I didn’t know how far I can throw it,” he said. “I don’t know if I can make it … if I would’ve known sooner, maybe I could’ve practiced.”
His wife, Shirley Meers, 63, was a part of the group of seniors who sang the national anthem Tuesday night.
For that group, singing before the game was a special moment.
“I think it’s an honor to have us sing tonight,” she said.
Along with the group singing the national anthem, Paul Hamelink, Good Samaritan’s senior living administrator, took part in the broadcast alongside Mike Will, sports director for Platte River Radio.
The idea to join the broadcast was to help further add to the experience for everyone involved.
“As we planned senior night, we thought about ways to make it a great night for everybody. We knew the broadcast was a part of that,” Hamelink said. “It’s just a blast for me to sit next to him, talk about Good Samaritan and watch some baseball.”
Overall, the night allowed seniors to support Hastings Legion baseball and enjoy “America’s game,” he said.
“Not only does this support our local kids, which I think we should do, but it’s America’s game,” Hamelink said. “Everyone has a connection to baseball.”