Death of softball player in The Villages sparks heat index rule

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SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. - The death of a softball player in a retirement community in the Villages last week has sparked new rules.

Softball games will no longer be played once the heat index reaches 95 degrees.

Thousands of people moved to the area specifically to play softball. Eyewitness News found out they don't want to play along with the new rules.

There are about 22 teams in one league. There are at least a dozen other leagues just as big, so a sweeping change to when games are played would affect thousands.

From the coolest spot in the park, Sandy Winchester watches the game and her husband's health in the heat when he's on first base.

She said the guys do a good job of watching over themselves by staying hydrated and getting a breeze from the dugout fan.

She said having a policy that cancels softball games if the heat index goes above 95 is a bit much.

"I think the guys are intelligent enough to make the decision. They can tell their manager and they can sit out and get a substitute for them," Winchester said.

The Villages is dubbed a "premier active adult retirement community," complete with other outdoor activities aside from softball including golf, pickleball and tennis.

The Villages recreation department didn't reply to a request asking if they would apply the same 95-degree heat index policy to other outdoor activities.

"If you do it for one sport, you have to do it for all the sports and not just for one," Winchester said.

Sal Riggio manages the Bobcats. He said such a policy would knock out the whole summer season.

"If you keep up that policy, there's going to be a lot of days where we're not going to be able to play," Riggio said.

Softball leaders in the Villages are expected to meet later this week. It's expected the new policy will be the center of discussion.

Friends of the softball player who died last week told us he also had health issues and hadn't played for several months.