It is said the family that plays together stays together, but the Penitschs of Redmond take that adage to a whole new level.
They play competitive slowpitch softball as part of as summer co-ed league — run by Redmond Parks and Recreation — usually at Grass Lawn Park, with a very unique team.
Diane Penitsch, 50, is the manager of Tres Hermanos, a team that is composed primarily of her immediate family.
Her three sons, Colin, 18 (OF), Kevin, 21, (LF), and Shawn, 28, (starting pitcher, SS) comprise the youth of her team, and Penitsch’s husband, Gary, also plays as an outfielder. The the most stately member of Tres Hermanos is Diane’s 75-year-old father, Glen Muggy, who plays a quick and agile second base and is also the team’s utilityman, filling in wherever he is needed. Diane herself also contributes on the field as a first baseman.
Softball has long been the family sport, and years ago Diane decided it was time to introduce her sons, who all played competitive soccer through their prep athletic careers, to the game.
“My dad plays in a men’s senior league, and I’ve played softball for years. It was getting to the point where I thought we should put a team together,” Diane said. “They were like ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’… It’s just something that through the generations everyone in our family has played, and so we thought, “why not get all three generations out here?”
Although there were no girls’ softball teams around while Diane was in school, she caught onto the game in her early 20s, playing on very competitive women’s and co-ed teams. Then the soccer bug bit, hard enough that she temporarily gave up her bat and gloves for a pair of cleats.
“Then I had three knee surgeries,” Penitsch recalled. “I thought, ‘You know, softball’s sounding really good.’ That’s something I could do. I couldn’t do the quick turning and stuff in soccer, so that’s what really brought be back into it.”
While many would abhor the thought of managing a softball team comprised mainly of their family, Diane enjoys the responsibility and feels that the pressure is actually lessened.
“They’re all wonderful. You don’t have to deal with the drama… we really don’t have a problem,” Diane said of the most difficult aspect of managing Tres Hermanos. “There are times where we’ll razz each other and the brothers will put the pressure on, but because we’re all family and friends we all get along and there’s never any issues.
“We just want to go out and have fun.”
At the same time, Diane and the rest of her family have a burning competitive desire to be the best they can be, and she admits that the wide variation in skill level of the teams in the league can be difficult to deal with at times.
“The hardest thing has been that you are playing teams that are first-time teams together… so we’ve got three teams in our division that are real competitive, and three or four that are less skilled,” said Diane, whose self-appointed job title is “domestic engineer.” “It’s really a balance on having fun but still playing and trying not to compromise (yourself).”
Diane’s team dominated the spring league with only one loss overall, but have been struggling through the summer swing. In a must-win doubleheader in order to make the playoffs, Tres Hermanos pommelled “The Replacements” 14-3 and 17-3 last Wednesday to finish with a regular-season record of 6-3-1.
If you thought the name Tres Hermanos sounded familiar, yes, it is that family mexican restaurant located on 85th Street in Rose Hill, and yes, they are proud sponsors of Penitsch’s team, which it is now ironically named.
“They have been awesome.” Diane said of her sponsor. “After every game, whoever can, we go and eat there. I told them tonight there will probably be 10 of us. I thought ‘Tres Hermanos’ was appropriate, you know, ‘three brothers.’”
AGE IS JUST A NUMBER
The biggest thing about fielding such a unique team, for Diane, is to show that age has nothing to do with the ability to stay competitive and still love the game.
“The average age (of the other teams) has got to be 25 and lower, and we have a guy that’s got 10 stitches in his hand so he can’t play, he’s almost 52,” Diane said. “We’ve got the young, the old, the middle… age doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
Diane’s father, Glen Muggy, is an inspiring testament to staying fit in one’s golden years. At an age when many would be content just to be alive, he plays in softball leagues year-round, including a special 75-and-over team, Giuseppe’s, based out of Tacoma.
“I started playing fastpitch in April of 1949, and I’ve been playing senior ball for 20 years,” said the spry Muggy. “I work out all the time at the athletic club … all summer long I’ve been playing on three teams, and one week I played 10 softball games. By Friday night I was tired.”
After taking a round of batting practice in preparation for a Wednesday night doubleheader, during which he hit line drive after line drive, Muggy took time to reflect on what it means to be able to share the sport of softball with his family, two of the things dearest to him in his life.
“There’s nothing better… it’s just exciting,” said Muggy, who has 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. “The grandkids get a big kick out of it. I’m almost 76 and still playing the game, it’s great. And it’s fun to play with the younger kids because it makes you feel younger.”
“I have 11 grandsons, so I have another whole team right there,” added Muggy with a laugh.
By introducing the game to her sons, Diane hopes the family softball legacy will continue for many generations to come.
“Twenty years from now I can look back on this and say, ‘we all played together.’ I’m hoping as (my sons) get older, that their kids will play with them and I will be the grandparent playing with them,” Diane said. “It’s just kind of a legacy thing, but the most rewarding part is seeing my dad out here. It means so much.”