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Farmer, umpire and cancer survivor Balogh shares his story

Lyle Balogh is a man with a variety of interests.
Langbank's Lyle Balogh has fought against cancer.

LANGBANK - Many people with sports connections in southeast Saskatchewan know Lyle Balogh.

He and his wife of 44 years, Sharon, live on their home quarter four kilometres northeast of Langbank.

Lyle's parents, Steve, and Emma Balogh, moved from south of Kipling to Langbank in 1954 when they purchased a half section of land. Lyle started farming with his parents in 1972 while attending school. Later, Lyle and Sharon took over the family farm in 1987 when Steve passed away. Lyle's mother, who is now 98 years old resides in Kipling.

Until 2015, the Baloghs were actively grain farming and cattle ranching. Lyle and Sharon maintained a 70 cow/calf herd and grew and harvested various crops and owned an older but dependable line of farm machinery. Now, they consider themselves to be hobby farmers, as they have sold their cattle and have their land rented out.

In his younger days, Lyle was very active in sports playing defence in hockey, being a pitcher in fastball and a third baseman in baseball. He also was third on his curling team. For over 25 years, Lyle played fastball for Langbank. Back in the day, it was a four-team league consisting of Langbank, Windthorst, Kipling and Corning.

In his later years, Lyle did a lot of refereeing in the Triangle and Big Six Hockey Leagues. He also officiated many games for local minor hockey league teams.

But by far, his favourite pastime was and is umpiring fastball. He has umpired for over 45 years and loves being behind the plate. He has umpired in two Canada Summer Games, three Canadian Fastball Championships and several Western Canadian Championships.

Until six years ago, Balogh weighed 240 pounds and would be the first to admit he was on the heavy side. One day, he had difficulty swallowing and knew something was wrong. He visited a local doctor and was immediately referred to St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon. It was determined he had esophagus cancer at the base of his stomach.

Balogh underwent both chemotherapy and radiation treatments but unfortunately, cancer remained.

In July 2017, he had a complicated 6 1/2-hour surgery and his esophagus was removed in its entirety. He developed severe complications, and another operation was needed. This surgery was successful, and his only side effect has been peripheral neuropathy of the feet.

"I feel truly blessed to have survived this dangerous cancer," said Lyle. "It was a big hiccup in my life, but only a hiccup. And one real good thing happened. I dropped my weight down to 170 pounds.

"I would really like to thank Randy Rapitta, Craig Savill and Dave Hill for organizing a fundraiser on June 11, 2017, prior to my surgery," he added. "It really helped my family and me with the expenses incurred during our stay in Saskatoon. We will forever be grateful."

Lyle still umpires in the Southeast Men's Fastball League. It consists of seven teams including Round Lake, Ochapowace, Cowessess, Grenfell, Whitewood, Fleming and Moosomin. He also umpires weekend tournaments during the summer.

The softball leagues and teams further south folded in the late 1990s. There used to be men's teams in Bellegarde, Carnduff, Arcola, Stoughton, Redvers and Alida. The Wordsworth Huskers and Carlyle Sundowners teams of old also bring back memories. Some of those players included Harold Glowa, Larry Chapman, Wayne Wilson, Gerald Clark, Lindsay Clark, Larry Brady and Roger Fafard, among others.

Lyle and Sharon have three daughters and ten grandchildren. They are still very active in their community and enjoy spending time with family and friends. Lyle plans on umpiring again in 2023.

"Life has been great, and it is what you make it. You are only as old as you feel," he said.