The softball guy

KEKAHA – Guy Ruiz never gets tired of running.

He never really gets tired, period. The 72-year-old Kekaha man is an avid softball player with a penchant to win. The athlete is the proud owner of 21 World Series rings in senior softball competition.

While visiting Las Vegas last week where almost everybody hopes to hit it big and win, his idea of a jackpot is of a whole different persuasion. He’d rather hit a ball deep and help his team win on the diamond more than anything else.

Which is exactly what he did last week.

“I love it,” said Ruiz, who earned another MVP award during last week’s tournament in Sin City. “I like to play against the big boys.”

But not even the bright lights of Vegas were enough. He hit the road with his wife Priscilla to play at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, this week. The international senior sports competition, founded in 1987 for those in their golden years, is expected to draw more than 10,000 athletes from more than 20 countries.

Ruiz will play with Kapili and Hanapa, two softball teams in the 60- and 65-years-old and over category. He’ll also be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the games.

It’s doubtful he’ll share stories of the secret lucky charm he has carried around in his uniform pocket throughout the years on the diamond. If he does, everybody will finally learn about his secret weapon – Hawaiian salt with tea leaf in a baggie.

For Ruiz, beyond softball stories about hitting a grand slam and pushing his Kauai team to first place in a state division title game, beyond competing in Las Vegas or Utah; beyond the gold rings and the hard-earned medals, it’s all about celebrating being alive.

“I ride my bike every night at 8 o’clock at least three to four miles around Kekaha,” Ruiz said.

It’s a world he has always loved to explore as far back as he can remember. When he wasn’t playing on a Little League team as a child, he was keeping busy in other ways.

“I’d be out working, feeding the animals – rabbits, ducks and cows – and hunting pheasants, pigs and mountain goats,” Ruiz said. “It was for our food.”

The ballplayer devoted 37 years to driving heavy equipment at the Kekaha Sugar Co. before retiring. But his devotion to softball was equally as strong – oftentimes he played the game seven days a week.

Priscilla said the 50 years married to Ruiz have been a half a century of going to softball games – something she has grown to love.

“In order to be a softball wife, you have to enjoy it,” Ruiz said. “It’s like a separate world, an atmosphere separate from your working world and family.”

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Lisa Ann Capozzi can be reached at lcapozzi@thegardenisland.com.

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