By Per Peterson
Leroy Wagner, Don and Rocky Rud and Terry Sames drove a long way — over two hours one way — to watch their favorite amateur baseball team this past weekend at the Class C Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament in Milroy, and they weren’t disappointed.
Of course, their main source of joy was watching their St. Patrick team blow out Carver 16-4 Saturday, then edge Bluffton 2-1 the following day (it ended up losing in the championship game Monday). But it wasn’t just the games the foursome enjoyed in Milroy.
“This ballpark is beautiful,” Wagner said during the tail end of St. Patrick’s big win over Carver on Saturday. “They did a real good job getting the field ready. To do what they did that late in the game is great.”
The foursome had never been to Milroy before this year’s state tournament, although Don, the old-timer of the group, knows of the Yankees’ history.
“They’ve been to state a lot of times,” he said. “There’s a lot of history here.”
The Yankees couldn’t celebrate their 75-year history this year because of the pandemic, but the baseball gods were certainly in their corner. New Ulm was set to host this year’s tournament with Springfield, but back in July, the New Ulm City Council voted against being a host city because of COVID-19 fears. Milroy literally stepped up to the plate and in a matter of about four weeks pulled everything together.
“They cleaned it up in a hurry,” Don said.
“We’re just happy to be able to be at a baseball game, period,” said Sames. “I didn’t think it was even gonna happen because of the pandemic.”
“They got all their volunteers lined up and just did a great job,” added Wagner. “You have to give them a lot of credit.”
Rocky Rud, apparently not used to seeing crops surround a ballpark, called the Yankees’ field a “Field of Dreams” — “there’s corn right behind the left field fence,” he said. “And everyone is real nice — the people running the show, the volunteers.”
Because Don doesn’t get around that well any longer, the group noted how thankful they were that they were allowed to take a short cut from the parking lot, behind the grandstand and to the field area, as opposed to having to walk all the way around.
“He has a bad leg, and the people let us in, and they gave us this table to sit at,” Rocky said. “That did that out of kindness. You can’t beat country people.”
Bill Dolan made the trip to the tournament this past weekend to take in the festivities and check out the new-look field. Dolan grew up in a house just to the north of the field. He played with the Yankees in the 1970s and marveled at how the field looks today.
“It’s like the real Yankee stadium,” he said. “It just is so cool.”
Dolan’s grandfather, John, was the founder of Milroy baseball back in 1945. He said the section of town where the field sits is a pretty special place to his family.
“They’ve got the field here, and the church — that’s all those guys needed,” he said. “This whole thing is just great. Everything looks wonderful. This is very meaningful because of grandpa, and our dads, and Pat and Lori (Dolan) and their boys, the Schmidt boys, the Dolans …”
Fairmont ended up winning the Class C championship with a 12-0 win over St. Patrick on Monday.
The Martins outscored their opponents 36-10 in five games, en route to the title. It is Fairmont’s first championship since 1959.