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'Mr. Softball'

Former Hillie Cox plays on five teams, 250 games per year


Anyone who plays slow-pitch softball in the Merrimack Valley or in southern New Hampshire probably either knows Ray Cox or knows of him.


If ever anyone deserved the title of “Mr. Softball,” it’s the 58-year-old Cox, who grew up in Haverhill and currently lives in Chester, N.H.
















Cox, who graduated from Haverhill High in 1975, has actually cut back a bit the last two years. He figures that he only plays about 250 games a year now.

“My wife wanted me to cut it down so I agreed to it,” said Cox. “In 2014, I played in 312 games.”  That’s no typo. Cox played on eight different teams back in 2014 and played year-round, including in an indoor New Hampshire winter league he is still involved with and with a traveling team that played in Florida among other warm weather locations. He’s also played pick-up in the snow.

Another year, Cox was again set to play in over 300 games but, much to his dismay, he broke his arm after 298 games. He tried to play in games with a cast to reach the magic number but no league official would allow it.  Cox is pretty much “down” to five teams this summer. He plays on teams in Salem, N.H., Tewksbury, Pelham and Haverhill as well as a church team out of Hooksett.

“It’s usually seven days a week, but I get a day off here and there depending on the schedule,” said Cox. “It’s just the weekends in the winter.”

On Sundays in the summer, Cox plays in the Haverhill 50-and-over league for the Orange Crush, but he still holds his own in open leagues. A lefty, he primarily plays third base, but he’s been seen at first base and elsewhere.

“He’s a very good player and he can play just about any position,” said Andover’s Kevin Twohig, a league coordinator who has played with Cox in the winter. “He’s a competitor and loves to win but he’s also a good sport and very helpful. If he sees something wrong, he’ll tell you in a nice way.”

Cox has certainly been around long enough to give advice. He’s been playing almost non-stop since he was 16, shortly after failing to make the Haverhill High baseball team.

“I started playing (softball) in the Haverhill league,” said Cox, who is also an avid skier in the winter. “My father was on a team and guys weren’t showing up. I was there anyway. You were supposed to be 18 but they asked if I could play and they said it was all right.”

And that started a love affair with the game. He limited his involvement when his kids were younger but he’s been going non-stop the last 10 years. “I’ve probably played in about 7,500 games,’ he said.


One has to wonder what there is about slow-pitch softball that makes Cox nearly obsessive about it. He’s ready with an answer for that one.

“I like team sports and slow-pitch is a great team sport,” said Cox. “And unlike baseball or fast-pitch (softball), everything is put in play as opposed to when 70 percent of the game is dominated by the pitcher. Every player is challenged in slow-pitch.”

With everything put into play, good defense becomes more important, which is fine with Cox.  “I like to play defense and I think I’m pretty good at it,” he said. “I’m a little more frustrated by the offensive part of the game, but I like the challenge of it.  “Just about everyone can hit. You try to hit it where a team is a little weaker on defense and that’s what I’m kind of noted for.”

Of course, Cox is noted more for just being there, year after year, which is something he doesn’t plan on changing anytime soon.

“This is a game you can play literally until you drop and I’ll keep playing as long as I can,” said Cox. “One of my Tewksbury teammates is 75 and I plan on playing at least that long.”

Eventually, Cox may need to slow down a little. He still enjoys playing in open leagues when he can (“It’s flattering to be playing with guys much younger.”), but he also enjoys his role in the 50-and-over league (“It feels good to be one of the main guys and be a real contributor.”)

With that in mind, there are actually 70-and-over leagues, one of which is in Nashua that Twohig plays in. One can safely bet that in another 12 years Cox will be “main guy” there.


“It’s usually seven days a week, but I get a day off here and there depending on the schedule.”

Ray Cox

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