The town team baseball, or town ball, season is well underway in Minnesota this year, and its legacy of localized fun keeps on rolling.
My family looks forward to warm summer nights and hot weekend afternoons in the bleacher seats of the Litchfield, Minn. Optimist Baseball Park. There, we can munch on popcorn and cheer on our favored Litchfield Blues as they take on other Class C amateur baseball teams from in and around west central Minnesota. After a hot prairie summer day, there is nothing better than hearing the National Anthem, a local yell out “play ball,” and hearing the click of the floodlights coming on as game play nears evening.
This year’s Sauk Valley League standings, of which the Litchfield Blues are part, show town ball teams Sartell and Foley leading the way this season at 3-0 and 3-1 respectfully, with our beloved Blues pulling in the rear at 1-5. Next games for Litchfield are with the Luxemburg Brewers on May 28 and the New Munich Silver Streaks on May 30, both games taking place at the Blues’ home field. We are hoping for a Litchfield comeback!
For a full schedule of this year’s Litchfield Blues games, check out the Minnesota Baseball Association site.
Jim Caple of ESPN.com once called Minnesota town team baseball, “the last pure sport in America.” Adding that “Although there are tales of star players long ago being paid under the table, no one plays for money here today. They play for better reasons — out of a love of baseball, a sense of community, family and friendship.”
So many Minnesota residents and communities participate in town ball that the state’s baseball association organizes a state tournament each summer season.
Last year’s Minnesota Class C state town ball tournament took place in Maple Lake and Delano, Minn. This year’s is planned for Jordan and Belle Plaine, with 2015 being held in Cold Spring and Watkins, and 2016 slated for Litchfield, Hutchinson and Dassel.
We are thrilled to have two state amateur baseball tournaments taking place so close to home in the next couple of years.
Along with Minnesota, prairie and agricultural states Nebraska, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota all boast town ball teams with seasonal play also taking place this summer. For listings and information about teams in these states, check out Nebraska Baseball Association, the Wisconsin Baseball Association, the North Dakota Amateur Baseball League, or South Dakota Amateur Baseball.