Area town ball all-stars to face pros
Area baseball fans will get a taste of professional baseball’s barnstorming era of the 1930s, Saturday, May 11, when the St. Paul Saints square off with town ball all-stars from the North Star League in a 2 p.m. game at Municipal Stadium in Delano Central Park.
The Delano Athletic Club (DAC) is bringing the Saints to Delano as a fund raising event to help the club pay for improvements to Municipal Stadium and Central Park. The improvements are being made in anticipation of an even bigger event — the 90th annual Minnesota Baseball Association state tournament happening Aug. 16 through Sept. 2. Delano and Maple Lake are getting ready to host this peak tournament for town ball teams and fans.
Jack Lynch, of DAC, was nostalgic and excited at the same time as he described the Saints event. He said, “It will not be just a baseball game.”
Hungry fans will be able to knosh on 4th of July burgers sold at the Central Park hamburger stand. Other eats and drinks will be available as well. Saints players will participate in pregame warm-ups and a home run derby. And the Saints will bring along surprise entertainment attractions.
“People will have to come to the ball park to see all the surprises,” Lynch said, adding that it will be “a fun day for kids.”
Lynch talked about how professional baseball teams in the 1930s traveled from town to town and “barnstormed” with local amateur baseball heroes. The Saints have returned to that tradition during their exhibition season. However, none of the players will be wearing retro uniforms in the Delano game. The amateurs, representing each North Star League team, will be wearing their normal team uniforms.
The North Star League already has posted the all star team roster for the Saints game on its website. Watch for Joey Althoff, Kevin Jaunich, Andy Brown and Jeff Althoff, all of Delano; Graham Brown, Luke Fobbe, Matt Bergstrom and Jeremy Schmidt, all of Maple Lake; Kent Koch, Tyler Maher, Brandon Scanlon and Adam McGrane, all of Loretto; Ben Smith, Adam Gregg and KC Johnson, all of Maple Plain; Jordan Danielson and Tyler Zwibohmer, both of Dassel-Cokato; Eric Schriefels, Howard Lake; Mike Freske and Bobby Kneefe, both of Saint Michael; Jeff Jarvis, Albertville; Jason Lesser, Rockford; Eric Pokornowski and Isaac Nelson, both of Cokato and Kyle Messner, Tim Thode and Justin Juergenson, all of Hutchinson.
Lynch said that team managers are being given tickets to be offered for sale in their home town locations. Tickets cost $7 each in advance and $8 at the gate. Make checks payable to the Delano Athletic Club. Seats are not reserved, so fans will have to get to the ballpark early to grab a seat and watch pre-game attractions.
In Delano tickets are available at Delano City Hall, State Bank of Delano, Crow River Bank, Coborn’s, All Seasons Sports, Jaunich Tire and from any DAC member. Or contact Joe Schleper or Andy Brown to pick up tickets through the Delano School District.
DAC, the city of Delano and the Delano Lions Club are among community groups working on getting improvements for Municipal Stadium and Central Park in anticipation of the late summer state town ball tourney. Improvements include new stadium style seats replacing bleacher style seats, replacing safety netting, expanding the bullpens and press box, installing decking on the first and third base sides that will allow fans to stand or sit, and adding new scoreboard, bathrooms and concession stand.
According to Lynch, DAC has spent close to $200,000 on tourney-related improvements. “We’re close to getting everything done,” he said. “Now we have to pay for everything.”
In addition to the Saints game, other fund raising events are being held by DAC and the Lions. One of them is an omelet breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon, Sunday, May 12 at the Delano American Legion, located at Bridge Avenue and Highway 12. Tickets cost $8 each.
In mid April the Delano Lions held a fund raiser dinner at the Delano Legion Club. The world champion “Shiggin’ and Grinnin’” barbecue team (Lions Derek Schansberg and Jeff Vanderlinde) cooked for a sellout crowd of 250 who knoshed their way through 160 pounds of brisket and 90 slabs of spareribs, according to Lion Dale Vander Linden. “Even the dishwashers couldn’t keep up,” he said.
The proceeds will be donated by the Lions, along with other committed funds and volunteer labor, to the construction of the new “comfort station” at Central Park.
The comfort station project involves upgrading the bathrooms located near the baseball grandstand. Volunteers built the old bathrooms in the 1970s, and they have served park and ball field visitors for almost 40 years. The old building is being demolished, and weather permitting, the new facilities will be “ready to go” in May. This is a joint project of the Delano Lions and the city of Delano.
Municipal stadium in Central Park is one of the oldest ball parks in Minnesota, according to a video on the Delano Athletics website. The Delano Athletic Club was founded in 1948, when the stadium became one of the first ball parks in the state to have lights. In 1996 a new grandstand seating 750 fans replaced a 75-year-old structure.
The latest improvements have enabled Delano to attract the Saints, the 2013 High School Section baseball tourney, the state town ball team tourney and the 2014 State Legion baseball tournament.