OCEAN PARK - Ralph Osgood is first and foremost a softball player. He travels the western United States every summer in search of the next game. He plays on at least three different teams, and at age 72, shows no sign of hanging up his spikes.
Osgood recently returned from the Oregon Senior Softball State Championship Tournament, held in Eugene, were he batted .600 for the two-day event and a perfect 1.000 for the championship game in which he batted in the winning run.
"We were losing nine to nothing after the third inning," he said with the sharp grin and New England accent that is still present 30-plus years after moving from Boston. "We eventually won the game 15 to 14, and afterward, the official came up to me said our game was more interesting than the young guys' games. You know ... the 40- and 50-year-olds."
Osgood, retired from the movie theater industry, now lives in Ocean Park and plays on several masters-class softball teams. So, when he is not selling advertising space part-time for the Chinook Observer to make extra cash, you can find him at any one of the many softball parks he visits during the summer months.
"I play on a few different teams," said Osgood. "There is the Olympia Masters team, Vancouver 60 and up team; I even play with a team in Salt Lake City. I drive all over the country to play softball. I have played on something like nine different [senior] teams."
"Oz" or "Twinkle Toes," as his teammates call him because of his tip-toed running style, got his start in the sport as a boy in Salem, Mass., playing in sandlots.
"During World War II, baseballs were hard to come by," he said. "When a ball would get worn out, we would have to use friction tape to hold it together."
One of the first teams Osgood played with was made up of ushers from the local movie house, who called themselves the Paramount Athletic Club. He eventually made a career out of the theater business, proving that his life-long love for the sport is equaled only by his love for Hollywood.
"I was one of 12 or more ushers working a 2,800-seat theater," he said. "The lobby was as big as this whole building, and it was my job to get the people lined up and ready to seat. Back then ushers got paid 35 cents an hour, and that was just fine with me because I got to watch all the movies free."