Bill Regynski might not be a professional ballplayer, but he can rack up the miles just as quickly as a traveling softball player, as the longtime Pierre resident did when he traveled to Las Vegas for a Senior Softball USA championship tournament last month.
Growing up on a Woonsocket farm, Regynski said he didn’t play much baseball other than some as a kid. He started playing fastpitch softball in Pierre before he entered the service, which he exited in 1967, and worked several jobs around the area, including for the State of South Dakota and Morris, Inc., mostly in sales.
Though in his 80s, Regynski is still going strong on the diamond as a catcher for the Midwest Express 75s. He’s been playing travel softball for decades, nowadays getting to 8-12 tournaments per year around the country.
“Being I’m here in South Dakota, we don’t have much as far as senior softball, so to be on a traveling team, to be on a team that falls into my age bracket or whatever, I usually got to go out of state to get on a team,” Regynski told the Capital Journal. He said most of the players on his team are based in Nebraska and Iowa.
Though he has been a resident of Pierre for over a half-century, Regynski has seen much of the country from one ballfield to the next.
“I have played I don’t know how many states, from California to Arizona to Florida,” Regynski said. “Midwest, Indiana, Illinois I went to this summer. Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota. I try to, during the summertime, play closer to home, but if there’s nothing in South Dakota, I usually got to go to these other states, wherever the tournaments are.”
Last month in Las Vegas, Regynski and the Midwest Express 75s scored 129 runs in just seven games en route to Senior Softball USA’s World Championship in the 10-team 75+ AAA division. Regynski was named an All-Tournament player alongside teammates Duane Carolus, Bob Kubat, Ed Rastovski and Rick Simodynes.
“This victory completes the grand slam of senior softball for the core members of this team who have, in recent years, won the Softball Players Association (SPA) National championship (twice), Independent Sports Association (ISA) National Championship, and now the SSUSA World Championship,” team member Ed Tworek wrote in an email to the rest of the team. “Also, during that period, these players have won the Tournament of Champions (TOC) Championship and Phoenix Winter World Championship (thrice).”
Regynski was contacted by the team’s Omaha-based manager last year to play in the Tournament of Champions after a number of players came down with COVID-19.
“We are planning on going down to Phoenix in November,” Regynski said. “And Phoenix actually starts the competition for the 2022 season, so that’ll be actually the first tournament, if you win, to qualify and to move on.”
Regynski said he doesn’t follow them as much as he used to, but he has been a Minnesota Twins fan for a long time. The Twins failed to make the MLB playoffs this year, but the National League Division Series between the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers still played on Regynski’s television on Monday afternoon.
Regynski’s ring for the Las Vegas championship hasn’t arrived from Jostens yet, but when it does it will likely join two others that he keeps in a special wooden box for safekeeping.
“To me, it’s a good feeling that you’re on a team that’s a quality, good team,” Regynski said, adding that he is close with his teammates.