It's a summer Sunday in Schellsburg, Bedford County.
The sun is hot, even though it's early evening; the sandlot is dusty, even after a Saturday downpour.
Just off the Lincoln Highway, behind the VFW, lawn chairs and picnic blankets are scattered about, with a small contingent of faithful followers watching a fading tradition: The Schellsburg men's fast-pitch softball league.
Barry Dietz, 62, tosses a pitch during a recent game.
Just a couple of weeks ago, one of the league's most seasoned veterans celebrated an almost unbelievable feat: 62-year-old pitcher Barry Dietz tossed his 1,100th career win.
The milestone is bittersweet, as Dietz, who plays for the Pleasantville VFW team, reflects on the decline of the sport in recent years.
"I've watched a lot of players come and go," he said.
In fact, Barry now takes the field with a son of a former teammate; his career spans, and even generations of Central PA softball. Dietz has been playing ball for 48 years, with the exception of a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He came to the Schellsburg league in the mid 1970's and first took to the pitcher's mound in '75. During the good times of the sport, Barry could throw more than 90 games in a season, playing in three different leagues, plus weekend tournaments.
He's won about two-thirds of the games he's pitched over the years. But today, the Schellsburg group is one of the last remaining leagues in the state.
"The commitment factor just isn't the same today," Dietz said. "We have some good guys in our league, but the interest just isn't the same as it used to be."
Dietz, a Somerset barber by trade, can reminisce about the old days with the best of them. He has watched many changes in the game he loves, including advances in equipment.
When he started, players used wooden bats, which never had the pop that hitters enjoy in today's composite bats. Still, Dietz has been able to rack up win after win after win.
"[Pitch] location, ball movement and a good defense behind me," Dietz said when discussing what has made him successful over the years. "Playing with guys who understood how to play the game is important too. Back in the day, you played for a one-run game."
Undoubtedly, Barry's commitment to the game is another huge factor in his success. While technology has changed, and interest has waned, Dietz, along with a small group of compatriots, has been a constant force on the Schellsburg diamond.
They may walk a little slower than when they started decades ago; their smiles reveal a few more wrinkles, and they reach for bottles of ibuprofen in addition to a post-game beer.
But these men still hustle around the bases with the joy of teenagers and can still teach their younger teammates a thing or two about the game of softball and the game of life.
"To be really good, you need to be willing to make sacrifices and make a commitment to get better," he said.
So with more than four decades on the diamond, having gone through more than 10 gloves, 80 pairs of cleats and who-knows-how-many beverages, Dietz celebrates his now 1,104 wins by looking forward.
The league may be winding down, but Dietz can still wind up the windmill, and this seasoned player hopes to have few more seasons on the diamond.
"I'm just two years away from 50 of playing ball, and I only need 96 more wins to hit 1,200," Dietz said. "If the league stays available, I'm going to play."
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@ BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.