HINSDALE, N.H. -- The only year of his life Winston "Bubba" Pasha wasn’t able to play softball was when he was recovering from throat cancer.
The bottled water he sets on his kitchen table is a grim reminder that he has to constantly stay hydrated, as a result of his saliva glands being removed six years ago during his treatment.
His wife Kathy, sits across from him at the table at their Hinsdale home as he describes his condition.
"I can dry up real quick," said Pasha in a gravelly voice as he pours fresh water into a glass. "I have always found that - whatever you get involved with - staying moving can help anyone overcome any obstacle."
As if cancer wasn’t an obstacle too big, Pasha was back playing softball the following year and credits his speedy recovery to an active lifestyle, something instilled in him at a young age.
Looking over a black and white framed photo titled, "Burlington City Champions 1962", Pasha points to his brother, and father, who coached the "Bedard Bombers" and led the team to a state crown when Bubba was just 13.
"It was a rundown old field," describes Pasha. But this tiny sandlot off North Avenue in Burlington, where Bedard’s Market once stood, was where Pasha began his lifelong interest in the sport.
Fifty years later, Pasha, who just turned 63, today plays at first base or hurls from the mound for Brattleboro Family Health Care, a Division 4 team in the Brattleboro Area Men’s Softball League. The team is made up of a group of doctors and health care specialists.
In the second, color photo, Pasha points to teammates Dr. Tortoloni and Dr. Ted Johnson, area physicians who Pasha shared a Div. 4 title with in 2006.
This year, Pasha said his team isn’t looking so good, as they struggle with injuries. That, and an aging roster. "We’re getting beat almost every game," he said. "I guess we’re getting on in our years. Still, we don’t mind taking on guys 30 years younger than most of us."
After graduating from Brattleboro Union High School, Pasha enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam conflict. It was during his training at Fort Devens, Ma, where Pasha’s fondness for softball peaked.
With fastpitch ball gaining popularity, Pasha pitched his "F" Troop to several Army league victories. In the spring of 1970, Pasha was transferred to Vint Hill Farms Station in Warrenton, Va, where he served within the Army Security Agency.
It was there that Winston met two southern boys who somehow both carried the nickname, "Bubba". Pasha would end up becoming the third "Bubba" on the team and it’s a name that has stuck to him ever since.
Pasha said his 20 years in the service contained some of his greatest softball memories, and the thrill of conflict, both on and off the field, sent him to places from southern Bavaria to Italy and Berlin, Germany to Camp Humphrey’s, in Korea, where First Sergeant Pasha continued to play.
All his work paid off. In 1988, Bubba was selected to play on the Post Softball team, where he traveled to Long Island, N.Y. to represent the U.S. Army in the East Coast Tournament.
After retiring from the Army in 1989, Bubba moved to Brattleboro where he has played softball ever since. He teaches auto-tech at Brattleboro Union High’s vocational center, and said he enjoys golf and riding his Harley motorcycle.
"He’s great with kids," said Kathy. "He’s coached his own kids and grandkids while they were in school." At one point, Bubba worked with Chris Pratt, where they both coached the Rockies of the Brattleboro Little League.
Being married only a few years, Kathy said she had many questions for Winston when they first met, since she found him so interesting.
"My wife kept asking me questions about my life, taking footnotes," said Bubba. "So she organized my thoughts and suggested I express them."
For now, Bubba said he’s finally going to try and enjoy some much-needed relaxation ... until the next 50 years rolls around.
David Aquino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.