A baseball celebration: Baseball at center of town's vitality

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 9, 2014 - 8:04 AM

Baseball interest among young and old in Cold Spring goes way, way back and keeps building.

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– The “Day at the Park’’ fundraiser for Cold Spring baseball started with the Silver Springers, the 35-and-older state champions, taking on the Richmond Royals from the Stearns County League.

Dave Hinkemeyer, 51, was on the mound for Cold Spring’s senior team, throwing to his longtime catcher, Rod Schafer, 53.

Hinkemeyer was asked: “How many games have you thrown to Schafer?’’

He thought and said: “Rod started here in 1986. So, almost 30 years … 300, I’d guess.’’

Hinkemeyer used his variety of off-speed pitches to hold off several threats by the Richmond youngsters and came away with a 1-0 shutout in the seven-inning game.

When the game was over, Hinkemeyer, Schafer and other Silver Springers celebrated by raking the area around home plate, the pitcher’s mound and the bases.

“That’s the way it’s done at this ballpark,’’ said Bill Huls, the manager of the Silver Springers. “If you play a game or have a practice here, you work the field afterwards, to have it ready for the next team that’s going to use it.’’

The postgame reinforcements working the field included Jace Griffin, 7, the son of Ben Griffin, a Cold Spring slugger of note and still the designated hitter for the Springers, the defending Class B state champions.

“Can’t get him to sweep the sidewalk at home, but he loves raking the field,’’ said Griffin, as Jace wrestled with a large, wooden rake.

After 15 minutes of this activity, the field was ready for the Rockies, Cold Spring’s Class C amateur team, to take on New Munich. And then it would be the Springers, Cold Spring’s longstanding town team, against Lake Henry.

It wound up being a Cold Spring sweep of the Stearns County League, with the Rockies beating New Munich 1-0 in 13 innings and the Springers beating Lake Henry 4-0.

“We used to call this Springer Field, but then the Rockies started, and the Silver Springers, the high school, the Legion and the VFW teams all play here,’’ Huls said. “Now, it’s just the Cold Spring ballpark.’’

Huls paused and added: “I’m prejudiced, of course, but I don’t think there’s a better town-ball park in Minnesota.’’

• • •

A sportswriter was working for the St. Cloud Times in the summer of 1967 when he made his first visit to the Cold Spring ballpark. The Attucks-Brooks Legion team from St. Paul was in town to play Cold Spring Post 455.

The field was a glistening green that night. The ivy covering the outfield fence was in bloom. And the ballpark was overflowing to see this big-city team featuring the already-renowned Winfield brothers, Dave and Steve.

The first reaction was: “Cold Spring is quite a baseball town.’’

Nearly a half-century later, that hasn’t changed.

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  • The Springers celebrated scoring a run in a 4-0 victory against the Lake Henry Lakers. The game was the last of three played during the “Day at the Park” fundraiser at the Cold Spring ballpark.

  • Kids watched a game at the Cold Spring ballpark from the top row of the grandstand. The ballpark is heavily used, by teams ranging from 35-and-older down to high school age.

  • As water is sprinkled onto the dirt around home plate, Jace Griffin, 7, works a rake while his dad Ben Griffin looks on. Players and family members fill in as grounds crew to shape the field between games. ] A look at the Cold Spring Springers amateur baseball town team of Cold Spring. The teams have a tradition of family members playing and managing for many years with their children helping out as bat boys and grounds keepers. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(mlevison@startribune.com)

  • Silver Springers manager Bill Huls, 73, considers his team’s ballpark the state’s best for town teams. It’s in a good spot, too, the middle of town.

  • Editor’s note

    This is the first of a four-part series on baseball in Minnesota.

    Today: The town team tradition.

    Tuesday: Dick Siebert and the Gophers’ national titles.

    Wednesday: Remembering the Millers and Saints.

    Thursday: The

    challenges of modern-day baseball.

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