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When Wilson’s David Allen was inducted into the Southern Softball Association of America Hall of Fame five years ago, he swore that he was hanging up his glove and bat after more than two decades playing the sport.
However, it didn’t quite work out that way for Allen, a former Fike High baseball standout who will turn 50 in June.
“I actually played one more full year after that. I played in 2015 and I’ve actually been kind of coaching, playing, semi-playing since then,” said Allen, who is looking forward to his 30th year of playing slow-pitch softball starting next month.
While Allen is deeply appreciative of the SSAA Hall of Fame induction in 2013, he was just rewarded with what he considers the crowning achievement of his career — to date — when he was inducted Jan. 6 into the North Carolina USSSA Hall of Fame. Formerly the U.S. Slow-Pitch Softball Association, the organization branched out into other sports and rebranded as the U.S. Specialty Sports Association, but it still stands as the gold standard for slow-pitch softball.
“This one is the highest honor you can get in softball,” Allen said. “U-Triple S-A is what started softball and if you win something, you want to win U-Triple S-A.”
Allen couldn’t begin to tell you how many teams he’s played on or championships he’s been a part of over the years.
“I’ve played on so many. The thing is, Saturday night when I got inducted I wanted to say so much,” he said. “I was honored to be inducted. I didn’t know what to say.”
Allen, who played baseball at Fike his first two years of high school before his family moved to Emporia, Virginia, got his start playing with Wilber’s Barbecue of Goldsboro in 1988 alongside his older brother, Babe Allen.
“I wouldn’t be nowhere near where I am if it wasn’t for Babe,” David Allen said.
Both brothers picked up their love of baseball and softball from their late father, Nathan, who played fast-pitch softball in the 1960s and ‘70s.
“He was a very good fast-pitch player. He got all kinds of awards,” David Allen said. “Daddy was me and Babe put together. He was extremely fast and had a cannon of an arm.”
David Allen played in his first world series in 1990 and, 10 years later, celebrated his first world series title with Paramount Builders of Virginia. He went on to be part of seven more world series-winning teams prior to 2013 before his so-called retirement.
Allen, who has worked at Bissett’s Fire Protection for 19 years, thought he was going to spend his free weekends racing go-karts. However, that only lasted a couple of years.
“Yes, sir! I had to give that up. That was too expensive for me!” he said.
He’s made the most of his extended career. Allen played for the Broughton Pharmaceuticals team that has won the National Softball Association 40-over World Series for the past four years. He was also on two USSSA Winter World Series champions, with B&B in January 2016 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and then last January with Structural Solutions. Last fall, Allen moved into the 50-over division and played for two world series champions with Fifty Core, based in Maryland.
He said he’s found his niche playing in the 50-over division alongside former minor league and even some major league baseball players. Allen pointed out that former Beddingfield High star Freddie Bynum, who spent parts of four season in the major leagues, is “one of the better softball players around.”
“He’s still unreal. He’s fast and you can’t hit it by him,” Allen said.
Allen assures that he’s not in great shape and laughed when admitting that he uses a courtesy runner when he gets on base.
“It’s funny because on the team I play on now, there’s a guy who’s 62 and he runs for me!” he said.
Still, the grind goes on for a guy who knows better than to try to retire again.
“Man, I tried to retire from 2010 on,” he said. “It’s just in my blood. It’s hard to give it up and retire.”