BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Volunteers are in the final push to get the Delano Municipal Baseball Park ready for the State Class C Amateur Baseball Tournament starting Friday, Aug. 16.
“It has been extremely gratifying to see the community pull together over the past few years to make dramatic improvements to Delano Municipal Baseball Park as well as Central Park,” said Joe Schleper, who serves on the stadium committee and is chairperson on the Delano park board. “We have received support from almost every community service organization, numerous volunteer contractors, the City of Delano and hundreds of individual volunteers.”
Schleper proclaimed that when finished, “We believe that we will have one of the best small town baseball parks in the state!”
A grand opening will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, including a ribbon cutting ceremony and ball park tours. The tournament runs the weekends of Aug. 16-18, 23-25 and Aug. 30-Sept. 2.
If you still want to get involved in this special event, there are volunteer opportunities at the state tournament.
There also is still more to do to prepare the stadium, including trimming the ivy, assembling and moving picnic tables, continued field surface work and giving most everything a fresh coat of paint. If you are available to help out, contact a committee member or stop down at the ball park when you see people working.
“It takes a whole bunch of volunteers to run the state town team tourney,” adds Schleper. “If you are interested in helping out, some shifts are filled, but we still can use ticket takers, concession stand workers, team hosts, scoreboard operators, etc. Or, if you are interested in playing LIVE MUSIC at the state tourney, please let us know.”
The Delano Athletic Club has been the group that has provided the main impetus for the ball park improvements, notes Schleper. The Athletic Club took out a loan from the City of Delano that provided the first major jump start.
Schleper has taken the lead on improvements like the new grandstand redesign, stadium seats, the new sideline viewing decks, exterior ornamental fencing and the design of the new plaza area.
The ballpark in Shakopee is named after Schleper’s father (Joe Schleper Stadium), so he has had some prior experience in revitalizing a ballpark.
In Delano, Mike Lindquist and Schleper took on the designing and organizing of contractors and volunteers to do the four-plex of softball fields at Delano Schools. Along with Jerry Litfin and Greg Johnson, Lindquist and Schleper were also involved with working with architects to plan/design the Tiger Athletic Center.
On the park board, Schleper has been part of a team that has planned numerous trails, playgrounds, neighborhood parks and ball fields in the City of Delano.
“Many others gave valuable input, provided the needed funding and the skilled labor to get these projects accomplished,” adds Schleper. “I can’t emphasize enough that the ball park improvement project has truly been a community effort.”
The new bathrooms are up and running, with help from the Delano Lion’s Club and City of Delano. The new exposed aggregate concrete has provided improved walkways and gathering areas for the public.
The new concrete has created a couple of plaza areas for people to gather. Inside the park, a second plaza area is located behind the third base deck. For that area, seven new round and oval picnic tables have been donated by the Knights of Columbus and local resident Bruce Johnson.
The Delano Athletic Club and Delano High School Baseball Program have raised funds to install ornamental black fencing and gates on the third base side of the park. This will secure the park for most baseball related events. A pair of 12-foot wide gates will serve several purposes including allowing emergency and maintenance vehicles access to the park.
With donations from the extended Ditty Family and the Knights of Columbus, there will be nine pub tables and 20 bar stools placed on the top level of the sideline decks adding another unique feature for fans.
“Numerous volunteers have been working almost daily on the field playing surface to bring it to a high quality level,” notes Schleper. “This has included re-sodding, over-seeding, edging, fertilizing, aerating, constant mowing, watering, etc. Advisors Brad Johnson and Jay Bernick have led the effort.
The General Federated Women’s Club and Big Woods Garden Club have donated their time, expertise and plants to create a couple of garden areas at the ball park. They also are looking at bringing planters to add another colorful finishing touch for the state tourney.
David Ditty, the Janzen family, the Muckenhirn family and Dan Paulson are joining together to fund signs at the park that honor Delano’s baseball history.
If interested in helping at the state tourney contact one of the Delano Athletics committee members: Steve Eilen, Gene Hayes, Pete Roth, Jack Lynch, Frank Muckenhirn, Jim Janzen, Tim Diem, Brent Muckenhirn, Jeff Janzen, Adam Jaunich, Mark Peterson, Aaron Swenson, Ryan Hayes, Andy Brown, Craig Sinkel and Cary Swenson.
A link to the state tourney web site is www.mbastate2013.com. Schleper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 763-972-3865.