By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent
Town baseball may be over for 2021, but fans still can enjoy America’s pastime on television.
Many psychologists say that watching baseball on TV, or in person at town baseball games, is a nice diversion for 3 or so hours from all the troubles in the world.
Historian Ken Burns points out that, since the early twentieth century, baseball has been considered America’s National Pastime.
“Baseball is the sport that has defined America the most, playing a massive role in America’s overall culture,” Burns said.
“Presidents would regularly attend baseball games. Icons such as Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson are now discussed in American history textbooks for the impacts they made on our country.”
Mention the name Harmon Killebrew and many Minnesotans, including those in Otter Tail County, get a warm feeling inside. This slugger for the Minnesota Twins was not only a great player but also fit into the role of Minnesota Nice.
Harmon has left this world but is by no means forgotten.
Across Minnesota, nothing beats sitting in your ballpark in towns big and small.
Football is popular, but in many small communities which don’t have high schools, nothing beats town baseball. It’s heartwarming to see 100 to 300 people gathering on a weekend summer night, under the lights, to cheer for hometown teams.
Some ballparks in Minnesota communities, including those in Otter Tail County, have nice seating areas. In smaller towns, fans are happy just to position lawn chairs along the first base and third base lines.
Purchasing a hot dog and soft drink, for a modest sum, makes the evening complete. In some towns you make due with the purchase of a Coors Light.
Three years ago I reported on attending the regional town baseball tournament in Dent, my wife Sharon’s hometown southwest of Perham. It was a great time under the lights at Jake Wolford Field.
Sharon, me and son Mark sat in lawn chairs along the first base line. Our dog Maggie, a golden retriever, came along with us and retrieved one of the foul balls.
“Old-fashioned small-town team baseball is the glue that holds many communities together,” says Tom Tomashek, co-author of the book, “Minnesota Town Ball.”
In towns such as Dent, baseball generates a great sense of pride and passion among its residents.