When Gary Evans was growing up, father Russ played softball three or more times a week.

When Gary Evans was growing up, father Russ played softball three or more times a week.

Those were the days, and they still are. Russ Evans continues to play softball four days a week. He's in "over" leagues, as in one for people over 60 and one for people over 70, and he's WAY over.

Russ Evans is 81, and he's the patriarch to something of a Grove City softball dynasty.

Two of Russ Evans' three sons play or have played in the Grove City High School Alumni Softball Tournament, daughter Diane Wise's sons have both played and now some of his grandsons are participating.

"We do have a lot of softball players in our family," said Andrew J. Evans, son of the late John Evans, who died in 1994.

Russ Evans was among those who took to a few fields for the very first Grove City High School Alumni Softball Tournament and he'll be out there on one of the 14 fields this weekend as a member of the catch-all 1960s men's squad.

"I've played in it every year except last year, and I had a cancer operation and couldn't play," Russ Evans said.

Back then, he said, nobody could have predicted the small event would grow into the major operation it has become, with nearly 90 teams participating.

"I don't think anybody anticipated it growing to the size that it has, but (founder Steve) 'Moose' Carr is a go-getter," Russ Evans said. "If it hadn't been for him it wouldn't have started and if it hadn't been for him it wouldn't have perpetuated the way it did.

"It's great for the city. It's the type of thing that brings people together. It's a good fun time."

"It got through that first year and then it just kind of snowballed after that," Gary Evans said. "It's just something kind of unique to this community."

When he tells people not familiar with the event how many teams now routinely participate each year, Gary Evans said they're amazed.

"They just don't believe it, and it's really a great way for the people to come back to the community who do move away," he said. "It's a community reunion."

Softball has helped knit the Evans clan together, according to Gary Evans.

"I would say that would be very true," he commented. "It was a bonding thing."

Three generations of the family might have been playing this weekend, but the middle generation has been forced to withdraw.

"My days of playing may be over unfortunately," Gary Evans said.

He was in a car accident last year and broke his femur in four places. It's now held together with six cables.

"My doctor said my falling days are over," Gary Evans said. "Of course, I want to play but he's told me my playing days are over with."

That's OK. Russ Evans has things covered for the older members of the family.

"My grandfather is a huge inspiration," said Andrew Evans, who also plays in the memory of his late father. For his part, grandson Michael Evans has ambitions of following in his grandfather's footsteps.

"Absolutely," said the player for the Class of 2002 A team. "I hope that I have the health and still the coordination to be able to be out there like my grandfather at 81."

And he wouldn't mind if, like Russ Evans, he's still playing in the Alumni Tournament.

"Hopefully we'll have a long tradition of Evanses involved wit the Alumni Tournament, from here on out," Mike Evans said. "It's an event that we look forward to every year."

Andrew Evans and his wife Megan Evans, a former GCHS homecoming queen, recently had a baby. Little Scarlett Mae is 3 months old, the proud father said, and he's already looking upon her as a leading candidate to represent a fourth generation in carrying on a longstanding Evans family tradition.