Townball, baseball teams representing small towns from across the state, has been a Minnesota tradition for nearly a century. This summer, the team from Elko is celebrating a historic milestone.
The manager of the Elko Express, Terry Fredrickson, has been with the team for more than 40 years, and just celebrated his 900th win with the team. For the Class B Amateur manager, baseball has always been a family tradition.
“My mom and dad, if you wanted to see them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day you had to go to the park,” the long-time baseball man told Fox 9.
The game chosen for the ceremony to honor the coach was the July 1 game against Elko’s main rival the New Market Muskies, a rivalry that goes back about 50 years. What made this game bigger than the usual rivalry was the pomp and circumstance filling the small town ballpark. There was a sellout crowd of about 1000 people, and even Fredrickson’s aunt flew in from Las Vegas to throw out the first pitch.
It has been a busy week for Fredrickson, who not only turned 60-years-old on Sunday, but also learned that day he had been elected to the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I’m so proud,” Fredrickson’s daughter Denae Schmidt said of her father’s accomplishments.
Schmidt is a mainstay at Express games, and through the years she has watched her dad coach quite a few games.
“I’ve been standing by his side for most of them, and I’ve been going to games since I’ve been a baby and now my children get to experience that too so it’s pure joy for me,” Schmidt said.
For a family that has embraced this summer tradition since the 1920s, everyone is hoping there are a few more wins to come.
“I’ll try to get to a thousand, I don’t know if I’ll get to that, but after a thousand it’s probably going to be looking like retirement after that!” Fredrickson said.
Fredrickson thinks to reach his new goal might take another two and a half to three years. Elko, not letting the passionate crowd down, won 7-1.