Town Ball: Chanhassen Red Birds draw from past to build vibrant future

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Today's Chanhassen Red Birds are relatively new by town ball standards. Organized in 2010, they are a young team in the league, but the inspiration for the "new" Red Birds comes from a team of the past.

Roger Pauly played for the original Red Birds of the 1940s and ‘50s, back when the uniforms were 100 percent wool.  

“It was the biggest show in town,” he says with a laugh. “That might not say a lot. There was a gas station, grocery and two bars and a bank and that was about it."

Just a 16-year-old kid, he was part of the first team in 1947. In those days, they practiced during the week and games were on Sundays. The field was basic, but the baseball was really good.

Roger was the starting pitcher when the team went to the state tournament two years later in 1949. Everyone in town was invested. 

"They were literally hanging from the rafters sometimes, they were very emotionally involved, partisan, and that made it a lot of fun to have that support."

The team faded in the 1960s -- many speculate that when development came in, the team lost their field. However, a strong affection for town ball never went away.

“I think there was a memory of how town ball affected this community in the ‘40s ‘50s and ‘60s,” said Denny Laufenburger, who does play by play announcing for the games.  

Denny has also been a big part of the re-birth of this team.  

When the high school was built and the city put up money for the athletic complex, a movement to bring back town ball began.

“The Chanhassen Park and Rec Board, under the direction of Todd Hoffman, said we need to bring town ball back," Denny said.

While Chanhassen looks nothing like it did 60 or 70 years ago, now, you can always find its roots at the ball park on a beautiful summer night.