A new era of Osseo High School baseball and softball officially began Friday, May 17, when a dedication of the new lights and a scoreboard at Memorial Field took place, followed by a baseball game.
An estimated crowd of 200 Osseo alumni and current students, community people and government officials attended the event. It was raining all day but by the time the ceremonies began, the rain slowed to a mist and then stopped completely.
Osseo High Athletic Director Ray Kirch was the MC and the Osseo VFW/Legion Color Guards were there. Speakers included Osseo Mayor Duane Poppe and Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat. Also present were some members of the Osseo Area School Board.
Bucky Hartkopf, an Osseo graduate who skipped school to lay the first sod on Memorial Field in 1949, threw out the first pitch. The 2013 Osseo Orioles then took on the Osseo Alumni Team in the first game under the lights at the historic field.
“The ceremony was great and the baseball really was fun,” said Deirdre Hultgren, one of the organizers. “Osseo baseball alumni vs. Varsity. It made it more personal for all and pulled in the crowd more than, I think, a regular game would have. The atmosphere was light and inviting and everyone seemed to have a good time watching. The varsity players had older siblings playing on the alumni, and there were great oohs and ahhs when the younger brother on varsity struck out the older brother on the alumni team.”
The new lights and scoreboard are the results of a fund-raising campaign spearheaded by community residents. The Osseo School District received $250,000 from the Hennepin County Youth Sports Facility Grant program and $50,000 in matching funds from the Osseo School District Legacy Fund. The $300,000 covered the lights for Memorial Field and for the girls fast-pitch field.
The district also received roughly $24,000 from the Twins Community Fund, to be used to purchase the scoreboard.
Kirch said the event was a celebration of how the Osseo community pulled together to accomplish a great goal.
“It went great,” Kirch said. “Co-chairs of the Dedication Committee, Amy Weaver and Joann Cross, did a fantastic job of organizing the evening. It was a testimony to a lot of good people all coming together to achieve something very significant for our school and the community of Osseo. This never would have happened without Shaune Younkers and Todd Eernisee, who worked tirelessly to see this dream of lighting Memorial Field become a reality.”