An octogenarian in centrefield

Kenn Oliver
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C.B.S. master league's Norman Warford celebrates 80th birthday

The Molson Conception Bay South masters slo-pitch softball league can boast of more than a dozen players over the age of 60.

There are even two players - Cyril Chafe and Cyril Boone - in their 70s.

Now the members of the popular 35-plus league can count an 80-year-old among their ranks.

The league's elder statesman, Butler's Quality Contractings Norman Warford, celebrated his 80th birthday with teammates, family, friends and members of the community at the Villa Nova ball field in Manuels following his team's 6-5 walkoff win over the Trip Inn Lounge last Thursday.

Upper Gullies native Norman Warford waits on deck during Molso C.B.S.?Masters Slo-Pitch?Softball League game. Warford became the leagues elder statesman when he turned 80 last week. Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

The Molson Conception Bay South masters slo-pitch softball league can boast of more than a dozen players over the age of 60.

There are even two players - Cyril Chafe and Cyril Boone - in their 70s.

Now the members of the popular 35-plus league can count an 80-year-old among their ranks.

The league's elder statesman, Butler's Quality Contractings Norman Warford, celebrated his 80th birthday with teammates, family, friends and members of the community at the Villa Nova ball field in Manuels following his team's 6-5 walkoff win over the Trip Inn Lounge last Thursday.

During the celebration, Warford received gifts and plaques from the town of C.B.S., the provincial governement, Lieutenant Governor John Crosbie and the league. Teammates awarded him with the game ball and a jersey bearing No. 80 on the back (Warford wears No. 78 on the field).

The Upper Gullies native has been active in sports his entire life, having played recreational hockey from his teen years until he turned 70.

"Playing ball and keeping on the move keeps you healthy," insists Warford.

"But once you give it up, you never get back. You've gotta keep at it. I went away from hockey when I was up to 70 and I planned on going back again but I couldn't."

Surprisingly, it was only after his 50th birthday, when the C.B.S. Masters league started up in the early 1980s, that Wardford started playing softball.

"I played years ago, when it first started. But it died out, it was only more or less a scrap league with maybe two or three teams.

"I never started anymore till this league started."

Thirty-years later, Warford is still there.

Teammate Warrick Butler, a whippersnapper at 41, has been Warford's teammate for three years running and is "quite amazed" at what the old salt can accomplish on the field.

"He runs his own bases, hits his own balls, and even runs for other people if we're short or someone's hurt. And if you hit it to him within a certain range, he'll come up with it."

Warford's range is not what it once was, but he still takes his cuts at the plate, continues to run the bases with gusto and is often the only player on the field to jog to and from his position in centrefield each inning.

"There's no need of putting in a runner, I can manage a run," insists Warford who still jogs near his home.

He's not sure how much longer he'll keep plugging away, he figures his body will answer that question.

"As long as I'm healthy enough, I'll stay at it. When I can't bend down to tie up my shoes."

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Trip Inn Lounge

Geographic location: Molson Conception Bay, Upper Gullies

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