Samantha Dawes - 8 October 2015
81-year-old Ted Gross should have been on the operating table this week but instead he’s patrolling the diamond – alongside his two best mates – in the 15th Australian Masters Games softball competition.
Suffering from a clogged heart valve which desperately needs replacing, Gross’ determination to fulfill his umpiring duties was enough to persuade doctors to allow him travel to Adelaide.
“I was supposed to have procedure the week before I came down but I said, look, I’m due to fly out to Adelaide on the Saturday and told them I am part of a team,” said Gross.
Gross’ closest friends, 75-year-old Spenceley Williams and 85-year-old Dinga Bell have joined him in Adelaide, and praise his commitment to the sport he loves.
“It’s fantastic. All I can say is that’s my mate Ted,” said Bell.
When Gross spoke nervously of his postponed procedure, it was Williams who slapped his mate on the back with a cheeky grin of comfort.
“We’ll see you up at Pan Pacs next year mate. We’re going to umpire again together after you’ve had this operation for sure.”
The trio befriended one another at the Pan Pacific games some fifteen years ago, and have been umpiring games of softball ever since.
“This would be the fifth time we’ve umpired all together. They deliberately put us together because we’re the oldest,” laughed Gross.
The three men have been umpiring separately for decades, with Bell first stepping into the diamond in 1978, Williams 18 years later in 1996, and Gross in between them in 1983.
Gross has obtained a level six umpiring rank and travelled around the world and Australia for the sport he holds so dear.
“I’ve been to about five Australian nationals open championships and six national secondary league championships, as well as the World Masters Games in Italy 2013 and Sydney in 2009,” he said.
“I was also in Italy in 2013 and Sydney 2009 for the World Masters Games.”
“I won’t say it [softball] keeps me off the streets, but what else would I do?” he laughed.
“I just like doing it. It keeps me active and young.”
“You get to meet a lot of people and see old acquaintances like the three of us here. I always look forward to coming away from home to catch up with Dinga and Ted.”
The Australian Masters Games wishes Ted Gross well for his operation in the coming months, and looks forward to welcoming him back to the diamond with his three best mates.
The 15th Australian Masters Games are being held in Adelaide, October 3-10, featuring more than 10,000 participants from across Australia and around the world.
The Australian Masters Games is proudly sponsored by the South Australian Tourism Commission through Events South Australia.
We're heading west! The next Australian Masters Games will take place in Perth in 2021.
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