'Grandma' has special bond with Livermore softball team

- It's a story about a special friendship between a woman and members of a Bay Area high school softball team that demonstrates when you have something in common, age is really only a number.

At the Ernie Rodriguez Softball Fields in Livermore on Tuesday, the Livermore High girls softball team played their last home game of the season, and paid tribute to a woman who inspires them.

The Lady Cowboys are made up of students from freshmen to seniors.

Watching from the sidelines was an honorary member of the team, 95-year-old Frances Cunningham. "Absolutely wonderful... I pitched in baseball and this I can do… but the speed that they have," said Cunningham as she watched the game.

Her eyes light up when talking about the sport. In the late 1930's, she was a standout pitcher on Oakland's Castlemont High School's baseball - not softball - team.

A few years ago, Cunningham started attending the Livermore team's practices when she saw them near her home.  She's been going to their games ever since.

The players call her grandma, and say she inspires them.

"I was about to go up to bat. I looked over and grandma was sitting over there. It just kind of gave me motivation. I have to do good. Grandma came all the way out here," said Emily Trask, a member of the Livermore High's Girls softball team.

The Lady Cowboys gave Cunningham a team jersey.

"She loves her jersey," said Sue Trask, Cunningham's daughter who brings her to the games. And she loves watching the girls play.

"Wonderful memories. I grew up like you playing ball," Cunningham told the team as she thanked them for the team jersey.

Cunningham says it's a chance to relive wonderful memories of a lifelong passion for the game, and passing that love onto future generations.

Cunningham's daughter says her mother nearly died from pneumonia a few months ago.

"She continued to get stronger and stronger," said Trask.

Grandma's strong will to live fueled by her anticipation of a weekly visit to the softball fields.

Cunningham says coming to the games is priceless, "It makes me feel close to baseball - period."

When asked if these girls are as good as she was.

Her answer, " I won a lot of awards."

‘Grandma’ tells KTVU she plans to attend the Livermore team's playoffs starting next week.


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