For a man who played for Hutt Valley Cardinals from "age five to 36" these are sad times for softballing great Mark Sorenson.
After 61 years in existence and an incredible run of success, Cardinals can't put a competitive team on the diamond for the opening round of the premier one intercity competition on Saturday.
The finger is being pointed this way and that but ultimately Cardinals has crumbled and will probably never again scale the heights of the mid-1970s when they won five national titles on the trot.
Sorenson describes himself as "pretty devastated" at the situation.
The lack of club loyalty by players across all sporting codes these days frustrates him, but in the case of Cardinals he is left scratching his head after helping assemble a talented team in the off-season only to see it disintegrate.
Four players have gone to Hutt Valley Dodgers, including promising Black Sox pitcher Nicky Hayes, and five other talented ball players have registered with Johnsonville.
Cardinals were co-coached by Joe Ferriso and Rob Siolo and they both cite a change in their personal circumstances for their breakdown. Ferriso remains Cardinals chairman but no longer has the time to coach and Siolo also wanted to scale back, though finds himself in charge at Johnsonville.
"The two coaches changed direction and by the time I found out, the players had scattered," Sorenson said.
"There is not a lot of loyalty around it seems. Cardinals was the only club I ever played for but there are not a lot of fellows who play for one club. Sure the world has changed, but our sport is still amateur."
Cardinals had problems last season and defaulted three games but Sorenson thought "we had laid the foundation for something a little more sustainable".
Cardinals has a second team made up largely of Korean players but the feeling is they would not be competitive in premier one, where it all starts with a good pitcher.
"There are no pieces to pick up, unfortunately," Sorenson said.
"We needed to get through the next couple of years, especially with the crop we had.
"We had a great young pitcher (Hayes)."
Sorenson said the inability to field a premier one team was a bitter blow for past players like Dave Workman and Darryl Marino and club stalwarts like the Baldwin family and his father Dave Sorenson.
"It won't be something I put to bed too quick," Mark Sorenson said.
"A lot of guys I played with for a long time contributed a lot to the club."
Dave Sorenson, a life member of the club, echoed his son's words
"I'm obviously disappointed. We feel very disappointed, but these things happen."
With Cardinals falling over, it leaves just two Hutt Valley clubs in the intercity competition - Dodgers and Marist. Two years earlier Giants and Wainuiomata folded and Mark Sorenson has serious concerns about the future competitiveness of Hutt Valley representative teams.
This season's premier one competition will comprise Poneke-Kilbirnie, Miramar, Johnsonville, Porirua City United, Hutt Valley Marist, Dodgers and the Fastpitch Vikings from Hawke's Bay.
- © Fairfax NZ News