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

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 7, 2014 - 7:08 AM

“The crowds for the Springers aren’t what they used to be, with people having so much to do,’’ Huls said. “The interest in playing baseball is great. Our kids programs are going as strong as ever.’’

Dana Hinkemeyer, Dave’s wife, was in attendance for her husband’s shutout. Her sons, Zach and Nate, would be playing for the Springers in the nightcap. In between, her brother-in-law, Chris Hinkemeyer, was the sole umpire for the Rockies-New Munich game.

“I would fill in a calendar at the start of every baseball season with the games,’’ Dana said. “One summer, when Nate and Zach were playing with three teams, and Dave with a couple, there were two solid months filled in. June and July … there wasn’t a day without a game, and often there were two or three.’’

What is the source of Cold Springers’ remarkable passion for playing baseball?

Bill Huls, a baseball coaching legend at Rocori High School, said:

“I think it comes from having this ballpark right in the middle of town. The younger kids ride their bikes over here in the summer and set up games in the outfield, trying to hit home runs.’’

Back in 2001, the Springers powered their way out of the losers’ bracket to win a second consecutive Class B title and their seventh overall. Josh Loesch and Co. put on such a thunderous display with those aluminum weapons that it might have helped convince the state amateur baseball board to approve a return to wooden bats.

The Springers have remained a power in ever-dwindling Class B, although it took a dozen years — until last Labor Day — to get an eighth state title.

The Minnesota Amateur Baseball Tournament started in 1924. Cold Spring was in the first one, and the Springers have made a total of 51 appearances.

On this Saturday, a “Day at the Park,’’ there were more people downtown drinking beer at the Third Street Brewery’s tap house than at the ballpark for the tripleheader.

So, yeah, the crowds aren’t what they used to be, not nearly the numbers that came to see the Winfield brothers way back when, but the grass still glistens, the ivy still blooms and Cold Spring lads remain addicted to playing baseball … even into their 50s.

When was your last shutout, Dave Hinkemeyer was asked?

He thought and said: “I can’t remember.’’

Dana, his baseball bride, looked over and said: “The last time you pitched … last week against Edina’s over-35 team.’’





 

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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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