(KMSP) - This summer we’ve been taking our shows on the road and we’ve been featuring Town Ball teams across the state.
Amateur teams have a rich history in Minnesota dating back to the farm communities in the 1800s, and ballparks in small communities continue as special gathering places for their communities.
Todd Mueller has a special affection for baseball and found that Town Ball captured a Normal Rockwell quality that we don’t see much anymore.
“I really believe Town Ball is a state treasure that needs to be discovered, and I think that is happening,” he said.
Mueller published a book two years ago featuring 27 of the approximately 300 Town Ball teams across the state.
“Town Ball Parks of Minnesota” pays homage to the parks, the history of the towns and the volunteer players who play for the love of the game.
And Town Ball games make for great, affordable entertainment.
“The prices are great, for a hot dog and beer, it will cost you $2.50,” he added.
Players of all ages make up these teams, with some coming off great careers and others on the verge of greatness.
“All of us are familiar with Terry Steinbach of New Ulm. He and his brother and two other players were drafted and went pro in the same year, probably a feat that was never matched by anybody,” Mueller said.
The ballparks themselves have great stories to tell. There are crooked fences, manual scoreboards, and re-furbished gems to put on a show. In Jordan, they use old traffic semaphores for the strike and ball count.
“For the ball players it’s the love of the game to just get out there and play ball. For the families it’s a place to get together and enjoy socially. The kids are running wild and it’s a great place for the kids to go,” Mueller said.