DASSEL, Minn. (KMSP) - Dassel-Cokato Saints Coach Jeff Neutzling is a baseball lifer. He grew up with the game and played four years at the University of Minnesota, even earning some big praise from a famous Gopher teammate you might recognize.
“Just a high character individual who’s always tried to give back once he took the uniform off as a player,” said Minnesota Twins Manager Paul Molitor. “I know down in Dassel-Cokato, he has influenced a lot of people in a positive fashion.”
Molitor and “Knits” as he is known to friends and teammates, even went to a College World Series Together in 1977. Neutzling never got his crack at the pros, but has been involved in amateur baseball for decades now.
When asked about his favorite part of going to the ballpark, Neutzling replied, “The camaraderie of the players.”
That relationship with the boys has gotten more and more important to Neutzling over the years, who now coaches first base for the Dassel-Cokato Saints.
Jeff has seen his share of tragedy in recent years. He lost a 20 year old daughter in a car accident and the love of his life, his wife Carol, to cancer in 2006.
“Somedays, it seems like a long time,” Neutzling said. “The next day, it feels like yesterday. That’s the emotion stuff here and there.”
Neutzling has also fought through health issues of his own, including a large brain tumor that eventually proved benign. It’s one of the many reasons he appreciates his precious summer knights at the ballpark.
“Some guys have a passion for fishing or hunting,” he said. “Mine is baseball. I loved the game.”