Jim Fullan had always dreamed of playing college baseball, but he never got the chance. He was cut from his high school team in the 1980s and his life took a different turn. He joined the Army for two years and worked for the United States Postal Service for 36 years. He married, divorced and became a grandfather of nine.
But he never gave up on his passion for the game. He played in an adult league in his 20s and 30s, and watched his granddaughter’s softball games with pride. He also kept an eye on the college baseball scene, wondering what it would be like to be part of a team.
Two years ago, he decided to pursue his dream. He retired from the postal service and applied to several community colleges in Pennsylvania. He also contacted their baseball coaches, hoping to get a tryout. Most of them ignored him or politely declined. Only one school gave him a chance: Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell.
Fullan showed up to the tryouts last fall, bat in hand and ready to prove himself. He was nervous about how he would be received by his much younger teammates, who were mostly in their late teens or early 20s. But he quickly impressed them with his skills and determination.
“Wow, this guy can really hit for how old he really is,” Cole Schuck, an 18-year-old pitcher, recalled thinking.
Fullan made the cut as an outfielder and became No. 38 on the roster. His coach, Mike Fitzgerald, who is only five years older than him, praised his attitude and work ethic.
“He’s just one of those guys that you root for,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s got a great attitude. He’s always positive. He’s always helping out.”
Fullan said he feels welcomed and respected by his teammates, who call him Jim or Jimmy. He also enjoys being a mentor and a friend to them, sharing his life experiences and advice.
He said playing college baseball is fulfilling and rewarding, even though he doesn’t get much playing time in actual games. He has one at-bat on the season and almost got a hit.
“It’s nice to have dreams of doing things, but when you actually do them, it’s so fulfilling,” he said.
He also hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams, no matter how old they are or what obstacles they face.
“You know, the more I talked about this, the more people laughed at me,” he said. “That made me want to do it more. It seemed like a joke at first, but I will see it through.”
Fullan’s story has attracted attention from local and national media outlets, as well as from other teams. He said he is often mistaken as a coach or a player’s dad by the opponents, but he doesn’t mind.
“The other team when we shake hands always say, ‘Good game, Coach,'” he said. “I stopped correcting them.”
– 56-Year-Old Man Is Achieving His Dream of Playing College Baseball, TODAY, April 14, 2023
– 56-year-old retired postal worker achieves dream of playing college baseball, NBC News, April 16, 2023
– 56-Year-Old Army Vet Retires From Postal Service To Play JUCO Baseball, OutKick, March 13, 2023
– 56-year-old retired postal worker achieves dream of playing college baseball, The Global Herald, April 17, 2023