For the love of the game: St. Albert seniors keep active in 70-plus slo pitch league

A slo pitch league in St. Albert is helping seniors stay active and have fun on the field.

The St. Albert Men's Slo Pitch Association, with 1,100 members, has a team for any age group, including open pools, 40-plus, 50-plus, 60-plus, and 70-plus divisions.

Malcolm Parker, a pitcher and coach for the Esso Bees, has grown up playing in the league.

"I've been in the league since '82, until now," Parker told CTV News Edmonton. "So a lot of time."

"When you ask me my age, I'm not telling ya," he added with a laugh.

Esso originally sponsored the team in 1984 — hence the name. Parker said the play on words was too good to give up.

"Esso Bees, you can read into what I'm trying to say with that without me trying to say it," he said.

Playing in the 70-plus division, most players are not strangers to the diamond, but experience doesn't always mean success.

The team's last win was in August 2018.

Parker is quick to point out that there was no season in 2020 due to the pandemic and an abbreviated one the next summer.

"We can't stretch it (the streak) to four," said Ryan Markowski, 68, Esso Bees left field.

Winning is not the team's priority, Parker says.

"We're all competitive to a point that we do want to win, but the main thing for us is the friendships that we have and how we get along and the fun we have doing it," he said.

"It's no point getting upset about," Markowski added. "Not like any of us are going to the majors or anything."

Al Weinger, who has played ball for 50 years, said it's more about the exercise and the friendships.

"I love the game," Weinger said. "We go out and have fun. That's what we do. If we lose, we lose. If we win, fantastic, but it's the game. We play to get out and get some exercise."

Parker is optimistic the team will shatter their losing streak in the coming season.

"It's just a matter of when," he said. "And when we do, we'll call you."