COLD SPRING (FOX 9) - One of the essential pieces of summer in Minnesota is amateur baseball.
It’s Week 2 of the Fox 9 Town Ball Tour, and we’re northwest of the Twin Cities metro at Cold Spring Baseball Park. It’s the home of the Cold Spring Springers of the Lakewoods League, and has been since 1924.
Cold Spring is a town of about 4,100 people a little more than an hour northwest of the Twin Cities near St. Cloud. They’re known for a legendary bakery, Rocori High School that’s filled with athletic success, the Third Street Brewery and, of course, the amateur baseball.
They’re also known for Eric Decker, a star athlete from Cold Spring who played football and baseball at the University of Minnesota before taking his talents to the NFL. He played for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets before retiring.
The Cold Spring Springers have won nine Class B state championships, and have been to the state tournament 56 times in their 95 years of existence. This town loves its baseball.
“As long as I can remember, baseball has been a big part of Cold Spring in so many ways. It’s not just the two amateur teams that play here and all the youth teams. It’s just a lot of other things that go with it,” Springers manager Dave Hinkemeyer said. “We’re rich in tradition, deep in tradition. We’re just trying to do our best not to screw things up.”
Sometimes it’s best to not mess with a good situation. The Springers most recently won Class B state titles in 2013 and 2014. Hinkemeyer said there are at least seven or eight current players whose fathers played amateur baseball for the Springers.
It’s a tradition they want to carry on for generations. The product on the field has been consistently successful, and it goes with one of the classic ballparks in Minnesota.
Hinkemeyer played for the Springers for several years himself. Now, his two sons are on the team.
“I think it says there’s a lot of good baseball players here, and there are. We’ve had several players that have played in the minor leagues, didn’t quite get all the way up to the Major Leagues, but several of those,” Hinkemeyer said. “It starts at a young age, the youth programs are very good here and the high school teams have had some fantastic seasons as well with a couple of state championships themselves. I guess we’re lucky, we’re fortunate that kids grow up in Cold Spring, Richmond, Rockville, they want to keep playing baseball. They want to be baseball players.”
The Springers got their start in 1924, and won their first Class B state title in 1955. Dave Bell, now 80 years old, started with the team as a bat boy in 1949. He played on the first state championship team, and doesn’t let his age stop him. He umpires multiple games per week.
He says amateur baseball is something that brings small communities together.
“Town ball was everything years ago. You went to church, and then you went to the town baseball game that Sunday,” Bell said.
Bell has either played for or watched many of Cold Spring’s state championships. It takes dedication from a tight-knit community to a game they love to produce a quality product on the field every summer.
It takes a group that loves to get together and play baseball on Minnesota summer nights.
“That’s from way back before I was bat boy, they always loved baseball. You have to be dedicated, and there’s some good athletes here,” Bell said. “We’ve had great managers over the many years, and they are the leaders naturally every year.”
The Springers hosted the Sauk Rapids Cyclones Wednesday night on a gorgeous night at Cold Spring Baseball Park. They’re 7-2 on the season, and they love their baseball.