Minnesota Winter Texan Creates, Then Grows, Softball League to Over 100 Players
by Rocio Villalobos
Over the course of nearly three decades, Ed Martens helped grow the Senior Texan Softball League from four teams to 14 teams with two divisions.
The Winter Texan from Minnesota began playing baseball in high school, continued while stationed in Manila, Philippines, during his four years in the Air Force, and later coached a boys’ team in Minnesota.
Shortly after he started visiting the Rio Grande Valley 29 years ago, Martens’ neighbors at Mission’s Bentsen Grove Resort convinced him to form a senior softball league.
Although he was at first hesitant because baseball was all he knew, he soon realized “it’s the same thing, only with a larger ball.”
Martens, himself, played in the league for 25 years, retiring from the field only two years ago after a shoulder surgery. His role during that time was very hands on. Now he has taken a step back and has allowed committees to help organize the teams and practices.
“I’ve made a lot of good friends,” he shared. “It’s good exercise and good fellowship, too. Everyone gets to have fun and enjoy good weather.”
Practice and games for the Senior Texan Softball League take place at McAllen’s Westside Park. There are 14 teams, each with 12 to 13 players, divided into an “A” and “B” divisions.
“The ‘B’ division is a little more competitive and has younger players,” Martens said. “By younger, I mean 65, 75 years old.”
The League does not turn anyone away, accepting players 55 years of age and up. Martens said the oldest current player is 88.
“We have some that play for five years, a few that play for 10,” Martens said. “Some don’t ever play and are just fans who come out and watch.”
The majority of players are from McAllen and Mission, but the League also has participation from La Joya, Edinburg, and Alamo. According to Martens, Winter Texans make up about 50 percent of the players, while the remainder are locals.
“Spring training,” or practice for the season, starts in November. Then teams are created and games scheduled, beginning in January.
One of the biggest games of the season is the U.S. vs. Canada game, which is set for 9 a.m. March 12 at Westside Park.
As many of the Winter Texans are from Canada, for this one game, the Canadians form a team of their own to challenge U.S. players.
Martens said anyone attending can expect to be showered in spirit and fun.
“We hang up flags, decorate the dugouts,” he said. “It’s something we look forward to every year.”
Martens said the League is already scouting for players for the 2020-2021 season. If interested in joining, he can be reached at 956-581-2254.
If you have someone you’d like to nominate for our spotlight feature, please complete the application below. We’ll be in touch with you if your nominee is selected.