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Clyde Bennett
updated: Mar 22, 2014, 2:00 PM

By Rudy Soriano

If you were to go to the Santa Barbara's Elings Park softball fields on any given evening, you will find a man who has been playing longer than the existence of the park itself. This man wears many hats here: league/tournament coordinator, umpire, coach, but the most impressive hat this man dons is player. This year marks the 60th anniversary as a player for Clyde Bennett and this past Wednesday night he put on his catcher's mask to celebrate this tremendous milestone.

Clyde started playing fastpitch at the age of 16 in 1954 with his church team in the fastpitch leagues of Paramount, CA. Since then it has seemed almost impossible to get him away from the game. His love for the game didn't just stop at playing but he contributed back by becoming an umpire in '61 and continues to do so to this day, whether it be for the fields of Elings or local area high school games. Around the end of his 20's, Bennett came to Santa Barbara, a place that he calls home. Back then the city had approximately 60 teams ranging from church leagues, industrial leagues, to Class A B C & D leagues. Sadly, the league is now down to four teams but Clyde continues to introduce people to the game, developing new players and pitchers. As a player and coach, Clyde has accumulated nearly a hundred trophies from league championships and local & national tournaments. Taking a step into the home of Clyde Bennett is like taking a trip into Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame. In his trophy room not only will you see old fastpitch memorabilia, the faces of present and past players included in team championship pictures, but you will see numerous trophies scattered from floor to ceiling, resting on any shelf or window sill, on and around the fireplace mantel, pouring out of that room into the hallway. Sitting on the walls of that hallway are nearly 150 hats that Clyde has collected from past teams. Clyde's newest trophies sitting in this "hallway of nostalgia" are those attained from his Santa Barbara Fastpitch League championship winning team, properly named the Clydesdales and his NAFA National Trophies from his 23U team, the Young Bucks. Bennett has been able to take eight 23U teams to Nationals, all which have finished in the top 3 and he plans to take another team to Quad Cities this year with the plans of bringing the championship trophy back to California.

Having just celebrated his 76th birthday this past week and after all these years of playing, when asked what has been his favorite memory as a player he said it is being able to play alongside with and catch for his son, Mark Bennett. Clyde has had the fortunate opportunity do this for the past 35 years and this past Wednesday night the two paired up once again as the first place Clydesdales look to stay on top the league in search of their 8th consecutive championship.

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