WESTLOCK – Leo Provencal is no stranger to baseball and after more than 60 years in the sport, is sharing his love of the game with his grandchildren by creating a family ball team.
The 78-year-old Vimy resident has spent most of his life playing sports, in particular baseball, and created a slo-pitch team this season called the Halfmoon Pirates, who play in the Clyde slo-pitch league. Provencal is coach and also plays shortstop.
“I lived in Vimy all my life and I started a hardball team there called the Vimy Blues and I played until I was 45,” said Provencal. “I like the game. You play the best you can, and I enjoy playing.”
After Vimy Provencal went to play slo-pitch in St. Albert for 35 years with the ‘Benny’s and White Sox’ and shared his love of the game with his four children while they were growing up and has now passed on his knowledge, skills, and passion to his five grandchildren.
“It’s a team I started in Clyde and it’s just a fun league,” he said. “It makes me feel good playing with my grandkids.”
The grandchildren range in age from 15 to 26. The eldest, Jesse Zeise, said he enjoys playing the sport and learning from his grandfather.
“Growing up my grandpa was always going to the worlds playing baseball and won a couple of gold medals,” said Zeise, noting his teammates are cousins Dylan and Haley-Mae Provencal and Julianna and Xander Patry. “A couple of years ago he won a tournament and won a glove. He gave it to me and that’s the glove I’m still using.
“He’s always been a role model. It’s always a fun time and that’s the main thing.”
Daughter and Westlock County Coun. Sherri Provencal knows how much her father loves his baseball and said he’s still in great shape.
“My dad can still catch a ball, he’s pretty quick,” she said. “He might not run as fast, but he played shortstop for many years, so his reflexes are very quick.
“We are all very proud of our dad.”
Baseball has allowed Provencal to see many parts of Canada and the U.S, over the years. He has travelled to such places as Whitehorse, Niagara Falls and Hawaii as well as St. George, Utah where he played baseball for 15 years and competed in the Huntsman Senior World Games. His collection of medals from both provincial and national tournaments are some of the special memories he cherishes.
“I really enjoyed playing all over,” said Provencal. “I hope I can still play for a while.”