CSSA PLAYER PROFILES - BILL KING & JERRY KING
In the beginning, there was Bill King. To tell the complete truth, Jerry King was there, too, at the start of the Cherokee Senior Softball Association (CSSA). There were only two teams at the birth of the organization, the red and the blue. The rivalries were not bitter, as the colors of today’s political world would imply, but a group of older players interested in playing slow-pitch softball. No civic fallout intended.
Remarkably, the two Kings of CSSA softball are unrelated.
In 1995, Lowell Larson sought a way to start a new softball league dedicated to players fifty years and older. He had a foundation from members of his church league, and Bill King was one of those who followed Larson to his senior league. This new league didn’t have enough 50+ players to exclude those under the target age, so Larson designed a system where teams could have a certain number of younger players to reach a full roster.
Bill started playing Little League baseball in 1958 in Southern California. He was a Dodgers fan back then, and idolized Hall of Fame great Sandy Koufax.
Growing up in a military family, he moved often. In fact, he attended twelve different schools, including four high schools. He played baseball for his high school team in North Carolina before relocating to Georgia. That’s when he changed his baseball allegiance to the Braves, who he follows today. He’s a graduate of Georgia State University.
Following his military roots, Bill joined the U. S. Marines and became a Cobra Helicopter pilot. He married Linda before enlisting, and they’ve been happy together for fifty-two years! They’ve spent many of their younger days touring together on their Gold Wing Motorcycle. While they are not as active on their cycle as they once were, Bill has a BMW cycle with the allure of the road always there.
In 1988, Bill experienced his most memorable moment in sports. He attended the inaugural fantasy camp of the Atlanta Braves in W. Palm Beach, FL. It privileged him to meet and share the field with Hall of Fame greats such as Henry Aaron, Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette, Eddie Mathews, and others. This makes common players envious merely thinking about that opportunity.
Bill stresses the importance the CSSA has had in his life. Sure, he’s had his moments of glory on the diamonds. He’s won three batting titles and was his league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2003. He’s a pitcher and second baseman.
Barney Greene had the most influence on Bill’s softball life. His former manager and he shared the same passion for the game of softball, cherishing every moment with a glove in their hand or gripping a bat.
For Bill, it is truly the love of the game that attracts him to the ballpark several times a week. The league is the foundation for his close friendships and he’s still going strong after 26 years.
In 1995, Jerry King responded to an advertisement seeking slow-pitch softball players 50+ years old. He had just retired and was looking to focus his energy on a beneficial avocation. He discovered that and much more when he met Lowell Larson.
He quickly became a good friend of Andrew Fowler, who was a foreman for the Canton cotton mill. In that era, industrial softball leagues were common, and Fowler introduced several players from those teams to the concept of a senior league in Cherokee County.
Jerry King signed up and changed his life.
It seems like almost every person one meets in Georgia is a transplant from another state or country. Well, Jerry King is an exception, since he is indigenous to our lovely state. Do you remember gas station attendants? They would pump gasoline, clean windshields, and check fluid levels. That was Jerry’s first job, where he labored part-time after high school for a whopping fifty cents per hour.
He graduated from Murphy High School in Atlanta, where he played on the varsity baseball team. His one link to softball prior to 1995 was his mother. She worked for the Atlanta Parks and Recreational Department and was also a softball coach.
After high school, Jerry began working at an auto repair garage and discovered he enjoyed tinkering with old cars and trucks. He then grabbed at a chance to become a dock worker for Roadway Express. He learned and developed into a long-haul truck driver, then followed a tangent to become a business agent with the union. Jerry later settled at the top of his game with his appointment as president of the Teamsters for the state of Georgia. While he was cruising America in his big rig, he was the Iceman (his CB handle.)
Jerry married his wife, Sandra, fifteen years ago. She’s a native of Liverpool, England, and former midwife who first came to the United States on a traveling nurse assignment in 1975. They are a testimony to the online dating experience, having met through eHarmony. They proudly raised three boys and a daughter, and now have three grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Wow! And this couple appear like they haven’t reached age 60 yet.
Jerry kept close to his transportation hobby, and he and Sandra have taken long trips (during the off season, of course) across America and Canada. They have enjoyed travel around the globe as well, including Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe. He still owns a Harley and BMW motorcycle and together they often take weekend rides.
Jerry received the Lowell Lawson Award in 2019, and has been on several league championship teams, always as an outfielder. For Jerry, individual trophies are never an attraction, but he prefers the comradery and satisfaction of sharing an achievement with his good friends—his teammates.
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Looking back at those pickup games in 1995, no one could have ever predicted the CSSA would thrive for over twenty-six years, and grow to nearly 500 senior players. These two guys were not only playing senior softball, but they became integral parts of an organization that, over the years, has become a meaningful segment in the lives and memories of thousands of players.
On any day, there’s an excellent chance you’ll see one or both “Kings” at Hobgood Park. If they’re not on the field, they’ll be sitting with associates, watching others who they know on the softball diamonds. The game is in their blood and part of their psyche.
In 2020, the CSSA awarded them each with the Founders Award, in recognition of being founding members of the organization and for their twenty-five years of being active players. Both have this crystal trophy proudly displayed in their homes, since they recognize the involvement of their families was a significant contributor to this achievement.
Through all these years, they have been a part of the humble and silent who contribute to the success of the CSSA. As Jerry says, “You will always receive more rewards than you could ever give.” This seems to be the life premise that guides both kind and generous souls.
Written by Marty Aftewicz
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