May was a special month for Buckley resident Lloyd Livernash, who was also inducted into the Tacoma/Pierce County Oldtimers Baseball-Softball Association’s Hall of Fame. Nearly 250 people packed into the Affifi Masonic Center located on Vassault Road in the City of Destiny to witness Livernash receive a token of the Tacoma Athletic Commission’s equivalent of a lifetime achievement award.
Considering the scope of sporting achievements in 82-year-old Livernash’s life, the special recognition seems well deserved. About the only one that doesn’t think so, is the man himself.
“I’ve just been very lucky in my life to have made the acquaintance of the people I have known and the strength in my arm that enabled me to play baseball and softball a bit longer than the average fellow,” he said with a radiant smile.
He’s done so despite some physical setbacks. Livernash has continued to play ball through a bout with cancer, a quadruple bypass and replacement of both knees.
He credits his wife of 14 years, Joyanne, for her strong support.
“We just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary in May,” Livernash said. “Unlike most of the other players’ wives, Joyanne used to go to all of my games when I played for the Northwest 80s. She was almost always in the stands cheering on the team and myself.”
The Hall of Fame plaque handed to Buckley’s finest and oldest diamond dog had these words inscribed on it. “For your dedication to the game of slow pitch softball and significant accomplishments on the field of play.”
In his relative youth (30s, 40s and 50s) Livernash played baseball all over the Plateau in Buckley, Orting, South Prairie and Black Diamond, mostly for the Eagles lodges that sponsored teams in those days. But it was when he was playing for a coed softball squad in Auburn in the mid-1980s that he met Gil Splaine, who advised Livernash that he was meant for greater things than coed softball.
“Gil is going to be turning 90 years old next Christmas,” Livernash said. “Unlike me, he is still playing with all his original equipment and is still playing for the Northwest 80s men’s softball squad that I played for, at a high enough level that they still want him around. Gil is truly amazing. He can still do it all. He can run, steal, catch, throw and hit for average as well as power.”
Livernash has had the good fortune to be part of some special teams. In the mid-2000s the Northwest 80s (75- to 80-year-old men) won the Senior Softball Association World Championship in Phoenix. There were a dozen teams there from places like Japan, Hawaii and Canada.
“That was something special, really a shining accomplishment in this old man’s life,” he said.
Another highlight came a few campaigns prior, when he was an integral cog in the turning of a 6-4-3-2 triple play.
“I never got around to checking the record book out regarding that play, but I doubt if that had ever taken place in a national championship game before,” he said.
“We really had a talented team that year and we were like a band of brothers. We had an excellent comradeship or rapport with one another on that team and it showed in the success we enjoyed as a ball club.”
As a player Livernash was renowned for his fielding prowess, not to mention a laser cannon for a throwing arm. Hitting-wise, he was the line-drive type, not one for home runs.
“In all the seasons of baseball and softball I only hit one home run. It was when I was playing baseball for the Wilkeson Eagles in 1947 and the only reason I remember that is because I scrawled that information on the ball with an ink pen. I still have the baseball around the house here somewhere, because I paid a little guy to go search for it in the woods,” he said.