Sports

Ambers brings experience to Major NIT

"Mike Ambers takes a lot of good-natured ribbing about his age from his teammates and opponents.I always tell the guys that's the wrong stat they're looking at. There are a lot of other numbers on the field that are more important, he said.The first thing everyone sees, however, is that he recently turned 51 years old.Despite being old enough to be some of his opponents' fathers, Ambers will be behind the plate for Team Snap/Winzer at the USSSA Major National Invitational Tournament this weekend at Celebration Park.Opponents certainly don't look at Ambers as a novelty or an easy out.He's chiseled. It's like somebody took a screwdriver and a hammer and built his body, said teammate Danny Comeaux. And he plays much younger than his age. Through 14 games this summer, Ambers boasted a .805 batting average, 12 home runs and 30 runs batted in.Team Snap/Winzer is based out of California but is comprised of players from throughout the Western United States. Ambers is one of several players from the Houston area.Athletics have always been a part of Ambers' life. He played basketball in high school, baseball at Texas Southern University and tried out for the Houston Oilers and the Kansas City Chiefs.He didn't start playing softball until the early '80s when he was already over 30. In 1985, Ambers caught on with a national-caliber team from Florida. Then in 1988 he joined the Bell Corp team at the Super level. He won most valuable player honors at the Super Major World Series while with Bell Corp.Ambers left the national softball scene in 1996 when he moved to Malaysia, where his wife was transferred by her employer. There he played for the U.S. Embassy team.Upon returning to Houston in 1998, Ambers played with his Team Snap/ Winzer for what he thought would be just one tournament. I found out I was still able to compete with all the young guys even with the long lay-off, Ambers said. Much of his longevity on the diamond can be attributed to his constant workouts. He lifts weights three to five times a week and runs with his wife, Christina, a native of Denmark, who used to run competitive track in Europe.Having a sports background is second nature. (Lifting) is something I do whether I'm in a sport or not, said Ambers, who often gets competitive with Christina on the track. We go out and compete against each other on the track. I was winning. Now she edges me out most of the time.Comeaux's goal is to be as competitive in 20 years as Ambers is now.I'm definitely going to try, said Comeaux, 31. I look up to him being in shape and I respect him for being in the game so long and being able to perform at the level he is.The senior leagues will have to wait for Ambers.I still enjoy playing, but I don't have the fever that I used to have. The fulfillment for me is being able to compete in the middle of the pack. It's not going for the glory, he said. I would like to play one more season at this level to see if I can do it. Physically it should be no problem."

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