RANCHO SANTA FE — Health, fitness and mental dexterity can occur at any age. Yes, even for someone in their 70s or beyond. And Alan Mindell can prove it.
For Mindell, life began at 70. He amplified this message to the RSF Senior Center on June 25, but his inspirational words affect people of all ages.
A couple years after celebrating his 70th birthday, Mindell’s first novel entitled, “The Closer,” was published and skyrocketed up the best seller list.
First time novelists generally write something they know about. And Mindell knows baseball.
“When I was in my 20s, I played center field varsity at the University of California, Berkeley, for three years,” said Mindell, adding how he was a skillful base stealer. “During the course of my three years, one of my coaches, who became a head coach, nicknamed me, ‘Motorbutt.’”
Mindell was known for his speed. His talent on the diamond gave him the chance to live out a boyhood baseball dream.
Then that “announcer daydream,” the one that plays in the minds for so many kids, came true in college for Mindell.
He was up to bat.
“Bases were loaded, two outs, I came out against the University of Southern California who at that time was the number one team in the country; and, it was the 10th inning and the score was nothing, nothing,” he said. “I struck out — and I never forgot it.”
With a little poetic justice on his side, Mindell wrote, “The Closer,” a story about a minor league knuckleballer relief pitcher who gets a crack in the major leagues after 15 years. Intertwined is some romance, too.
Not giving too much away, Mindell said he reshaped the bases loaded, two outs scenario once and for all and put his main character on the pitcher’s mound. After all, that’s where all the action is.
Mindell wants people to know although his novel is a fictional piece, like his main character in the book he never gave up, either.
In total, it took Mindell 15 years to write and ultimately publish, the book. Mindell’s dream of being a novelist finally came true.
A year before his novel was published, though, Mindell decided to tackle another goal.
“My ‘Motorbutt’ was good at the age of 20 so I thought maybe it was still there at the age of 70,” Mindell said. “I decided to try out for the San Diego Senior Olympics.”
Mindell became disciplined and trained hard.
At 71, during the 2012 San Diego Senior Olympics, Mindell won four gold medals as a sprinter in the 50, 100, 200 and 400 meter races.
“I was pretty tired after that day but it was a wonderful experience,” he said. “It showed me that training was very important.”
In 2013, Mindell took part in the San Diego Senior Olympics once again. He beat his 400 meter race from the year before and received a 25th masters rating in the U.S.A.
While Mindell publicizes his book, he puts a twist on things by also weaving in a motivating message, particularly for seniors: Life Begins at 70.
In many respects, he’s become an inspirational speaker by reminding people to keep the body and mind active.
After Mindell’s talk, he grabbed his nearby glove and baseball and gave a few RSF seniors some knuckleball lessons.