BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Even after he retired from playing amateur baseball in Delano for 21 years, Jeff Janzen is still deeply involved as co-chair of the state tournament committee.
Delano is hosting the State Class B and C tournaments along with Maple Lake starting Friday, Aug. 16. Action continues the following two weekends.
The first game at Delano is 5 p.m. Friday, when St. Benedict takes on Owatonna and Richmond takes on Avon in the 7:30 p.m. game Friday. Saturday, New Ulm faces Fairmont at 1 p.m. Upsala gets Midway at 4 p.m. and Loretto takes on Elrosa at 7 p.m.
Sunday games include Maple Lake vs. Roseau at noon, Spring Hill vs. Jordan at 2:30 p.m. and Fairfax against Union Hill at 5 p.m.
“The idea of hosting the state tourney started four to five years ago,” said Janzen, who was inducted into the state hall of fame last year. “We were pretty excited to bid to host despite knowing it would be stressful.”
Janzen said he and the committee had no idea it would help achieve around $300,000 in stadium improvements, making it a completely different facility.
“Improvements were not contingent, but we realized they were long over do,” adds Janzen. “If we were ever going to get it done we knew this was the time. We brainstormed this crazy and incredible idea to go around to different organizations asking for funds that we would pay back over 12 years at no cost to tax payers at any time.”
Next, the group went to the business community to sponsor ads on the scoreboard, with proceeds going into an emergency account as a backup plan. Seating was individually sponsored and Janzen estimates receiving more than $100,000 in donated labor.
The new scoreboard cost $40,000. The project included new concession stand that is located on the side where fans and workers can see the game instead of being behind the grandstand.
Along with total field resurfacing, there is new fencing and roof on the grandstand built in 1994. The frame of the grandstand was not changed, but it was gutted out and its footprint was expanded.
Land around the stadium was purchased to make room for the new bathrooms and deck areas. The initial plan was to add one deck, but it was added to both sides. Half the seating was originally going to be benches, but seats were added to the entire grandstand. The city stepped in and put aggregate concrete instead of asphalt so it is built to last.
“If we were going to do a long term project we wanted to do it right,” notes Janzen. “It may cost more now, but it will last for 20 or 30 years.”
Janzen says how Delano has always been a baseball town and the ball part has been at the center of the town. The high school and town teams are good role models for the youth who someday will want to play on the field. A good example is seen in Delano playing in four straight state high school tournaments.
“What is unique about Delano is all but one amateur player either lives or graduated from Delano,” adds Janzen. “It has always been that way as long as I can remember where other teams draw from other communities.”
Janzen graduated from Delano in 1991 and would go on to play in 16 state tournaments, four for Delano. He was drafted by the other teams. In his junior and senior seasons in high school Delano lost the section championship game to go to state. Times were different with a tougher two-class system.
Some 12-15,000 fans are expected for the three weekends of the state tournament. Musical groups are being recruited to entertain between games.
Tickets for the games are good for all games on that day, including both Delano and Maple Lake.
Both Janzen and Steve Eilen, the other co-chair for the tournament committee, were guests of Mike Max on WCCO radio last Thursday to talk about the event. Eilen has managed Delano’s team the past few years after playing for the team for 16 seasons. He was seen catching for Janzen from time to time over the years.