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Hometown baseball memories

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All baseball fans start somewhere

The Spirit of Sport After Hurricane Maria In Puerto Rico Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for Lumix

Not long ago, I took a little jaunt to my home town (Fergus Falls, MN), where I resided from K-12 and attended college nearby. As I visited the old stomping grounds—if you are familiar with that area, Dairyland & the old State Hospital are always favorite attractions—I was beset with some baseball-themed nostalgia.

First and foremost were memories of coaching youth baseball with my Dad, where we molded the future big leaguers of tomorrow. Okay, so it was more about getting the right-fielder to stop chasing butterflies and us throwing endless rounds of BP, but it was still an experience I greatly enjoyed.

Broadway Park in Fergus Falls, site of many a Little League contest.

During my own youth salad days (I averaged about two hits per season and played RF, though insect mesmerization wasn’t an issue), Dad would take me to the local batting cages to try and hone my swing. Even when the place was on its last legs and most balls would sail out of the cage and into the woods beyond, it was fun to get some hacks in. Though the site is now completely different business-wise, I’m convinced I could still find some yellow dimpled balls in that little patch of woods.

When the cage wasn’t an option, the back yard always was. I was fortunate to have a large swath of green to work with alongside our six-bedroom rambler home, and of course a well-placed stump served as a perfect home plate. One summer, Dad even mowed a rudimentary diamond into the grass. In what was my crowning achievement in back yard play, I achieved optimal launch angle on a rubber “super ball” with an aluminum bat, sending it two households away.

If I wasn’t acting out the exploits of my MLB heroes, I was probably watching them on TV. The early 2000s was a fun era to be an adolescent Twins fan, what with the resurgence of the “Get To Know ‘Em” bunch. Would my interest in baseball today be as great had not that gang came along when they did? I’m glad I don’t need to answer that question.

Minneapolis MN, 5/2/02 Twins vs. Devil Rays----Twins Doug Mientkiewicz 16 left, Jay Canizaro 1, and Tony Fiore celebrated Corey Koskie 10th inning home run against Tampa Bay giving a the Twins a 7-6 win.
Bonus points for anyone who names the two players in this photo who are not Doug Mientkiewicz.

A particularly big moment each summer was always the All-Star Game, mainly because my Dad would go all-out for it. Brats, chips, soda, frosty malts—a whole spread. To this day, I circle the Midsummer Classic on the calendar every year. Well, almost every year, I guess :(

What are your favorite home town baseball memories? Whether you grew up in a metropolis, or a hamlet that Dick Bremer might call out on the broadcast, I’d love to hear your stories!