Going strong: Giordano turns 90

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Joe Giordano has been a staple in the Rhode Island softball community for nearly 40 years, and continues to make history to this day.

Giordano, who resides in Cranston, is one of the founders of the RI Senior Softball League, and recently celebrated his 90th birthday with friends and family at the field at Western Hills as his Blue Cross team hit the field for another Sunday match.

Giordano, along with Len Yanku, formed the league in 1982. At the time, the only men’s leagues available were ages 35-plus, however, the duo, along with a handful of others, sought to create a league that was more senior-friendly.

After putting an ad in the Providence Journal, and holding a meeting at the Driftwood Restaurant in Pawtuxet, the league was officially formed days later when 19 players in total arrived to play ball. The league expanded to four teams the following season and would go on to eventually grow to 28 teams and 500 players. The league currently holds 21 teams with roughly 400 players.

Yanku served as the league’s first commissioner for the first 10 years of its existence. Giordano would then take over, and has since served three, 3-year terms at the helm. He currently serves on the 12-man board of directors, is the captain of the 60-plus division, which includes nine teams, and is the manager of the Blue Cross team in the division.

Giordano is currently the oldest player in the league, and although his duties at this point are primarily managerial, he still hits the field from time to time to compete.

“I love it. Every Sunday morning, it’s like I’m showing up for the first time,” said Giordano, who’s seeking to win his first league championship since 1997, as Blue Cross is currently sitting in second place. “Every year is different, and I have been very lucky to be on this team. I have a very good team in the 60-and-over division. I am anticipating a championship this year; I have a bottle of champagne that’s about 20 years old that I’ve been saving.”

Giordano has been proud to see his product grow, and to become the largest men’s softball league in the state for 37 years.

“(The league) is very strong, we have some great people running it. We’ve got younger guys, we have elections every year, we have an awards ceremony every October, it’s very well organized and well put together. I’m still involved and am part of the board, I’m also the captain of Division 4 which includes nine teams,” said Giordano. “Everyone knows me, not everyone will like me since as commissioner, you sometimes have to make tough decisions, I had to do that, but you have to do what you have to do and we go by the rules.”

More than anything, Giordano has been happy to see countless players and families celebrate the sport, and continue the tradition every Sunday throughout the state.

“People know me. Every man’s goal in life is to make a lot of money, make a good living, and to be successful. The second biggest thing that every man wants is recognition,” said Giordano. “I am lucky to have both.”

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