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'I just really like the sport': Meet the 90-year-old local slo-pitch player still living out his passion

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Bill Neald is still living out his passion of playing baseball at the age of 90 in Regina’s Senior Mixed Slo-Pitch League.

“I started playing in this league 26 years ago and it’s been great, good fellowship, picked up lots of new friends. Before that, I used to play baseball in high school at home and after that, I got married, and kind of ball went the other way,” Neald laughed when sharing his background in the sport.

“I just really like the sport, I really like the ball game,” he said about joining the senior league that he has been a part of since its inaugural season.

According to the league’s website, it provides an opportunity for women 50 or over and men 55 or over to “continue to play ball in a relatively non-competitive atmosphere.”

The league is meant to provide an equal opportunity for all players of all skill levels and gives them a chance to exercise and meet people with the same interests as them.

The back catcher turned 90 back in February but does not think anything of being the eldest member of the league and an inspiration to others.

“I just hope to do my best I can and sometimes hope for a hit instead of falling over my feet,” he joked.

Bill Johnston met Neald back in 2014 when he first joined the league and is currently one of his teammates.

“We mix teams up every year and this is the first time Bill and I have played together. Unbelievable is probably the word I would use [to describe Neald]. He’s an inspiration. I think to myself, I’m quite a bit younger than Bill, and if I’m still playing at his age, I’ll be pretty grateful,” said Johnston.

“He’s a man of few words but when he does speak, everybody listens, and he’s always very encouraging.”

Neald said nobody takes the game too seriously, which makes it a good fellowship sport.

“We all come out to win but if we don’t win, it’s not the end of the world and that’s the main part of the game,” he said.

Neald definitely was a man of few words when asked what his secret was to still able to play the sport later in life.

“I don't know. I guess I’m just one of the fortunate ones who’s been able to keep my health and enjoy the fellowship,” he smirked.

When asked how many seasons he thinks he has left in him, he told CTV news that this would most likely be his last.

“Getting to the point where you have to say, ‘You can’t do it anymore,” he laughed. “Your body won’t do it anymore. Your mind might say it but your body just won’t do it. I’ll probably come out to watch [though].”

“If this is his last year, he will be missed. Bill is an inspiration to everybody, everybody looks up to Bill. He’s an encouraging teammate, everybody’s happy to play with Bill. So it’ll be a sad day when Bill calls it quits. In the meantime, we are going to try and encourage him to hang in there for one more year,” Johnston said with a smile.

Neald did have a message for others looking to join the sport.

“Just come out and try it and you’ll find out how much enjoyment you can get out of it. Everybody’s always encouraging you to try your best and that’s all you can do,” he said.

More information about the league can be found here.

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