It began prior to the 2006 season when John Empie decided he wanted to enter a second Faggs Manor Presbyterian team into the Southern Chester County Church Softball League. It wasn't a popular decision among the womenfolk in Empie's life, a 71-year old playing the game could be harmful to one's well-being, but the former Kennett High School math teacher and girl's varsity softball coach is in excellent health and so reluctantly the family approval was given. Now the challenge of finding players to list on the roster needed to be addressed. "I wanted to add as many of the church members as possible," said Empie. When there wasn't sufficient church members to field an entire team, Empie sought the aid of family. His daughter Laurie's husband, Dave Swarr, and sons, Nate, 18, and Josh, 15, were recruited, thus making the Faggs Manor Presbyterian, No. 2, team unique in that three generations of the same family take their positions on the field. "It is truly a privilege and honor to play with my son-in-law and grandsons," said Empie, who manages and pitches for the Faggs Manor team.
Empie has been playing softball since 1948 when he competed with the Calvary Lutheran team in West Chester. After graduating from Kennett High School he joined the Navy and played the game during his tour of duty. He enrolled at Millersville State Teacher's College following his military obligation, earned his degree and came back to Kennett where he taught math for 33-years and coached the girl's softball team for eight years before resigning to follow his son's high school track career. "I love the game of softball," said Empie. "I try to see that players have an opportunity to play in every game, and I believe that's been accomplished in most games."
Swarr planned to bring a lawn chair and watch his sons, both students at Solanco High School, play the game, but the Octorara High School and University of Delaware alumnus was soon wearing the glove and grasping the bat as part of the team.
"Dave has been playing shortstop for the team," said Empie. "He was in the outfield, but Nathanial and Josh thought they could handle those positions, so I moved Dave to the infield." Dave is no stranger to the position having played shortstop for Wesley Church in the SECA Over-35 League in Quarryville for the past two seasons. "Afterward it's sometimes painful, but fun," said Swarr. "I take some aspirin before and after each game and that helps." Empie said he knows the day is fast approaching when he'll need some medicinal relief, but for now he's shunning the option.
Nate and Josh are Golden Mules athletes but they enjoy playing with dad and granddad and have proved to be valuable assets to the team, both in the field and at the plate. "Josh plays the short field position and does an outstanding job, "said Empie. "I think Nathanial has three or four homeruns and Josh has two."
It's not every day that you'll find three generations on the diamond, but Empie shows no signs of slowing down. "We're having fun," said Empie. "I like the competition, but winning isn't everything. Our team has great camaraderie and we're very sociable."
That said his team is 7-6 and may make the league playoffs. In Empie's opinion family is everything and being part of three generations playing the game - loved by all - is the ultimate.