“Put Me In, Coach”

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[This is from our friend, Roy – retired in Hawaii.  He sent this photo of the Celebrity Solstice cruising by his place on the Big Island Monday morning.  (Well, actually the ship cruised by on Monday morning; the photo was sent on Tuesday morning.  Is the International Dateline somehow involved in this confusion?)  This has nothing to do with our following story other than to note he probably hasn’t been shoveling snow lately.]

Alexandria, Class of '65It’s May Day, marking the 65th year in a row I did not receive a basket.  But, the supervisor says I don’t need (or deserve?) all those goodies?  I used to dance around the May Pole, until I was advised I’m Norwegian, and thus have two left feet (a factor, I believe, that could have been ameliorated by a basket of goodies!).  The snow is gone now . . . well, mostly, though there is no sign of the ice leaving the lakes any time soon.  It has previously been reported here that spring sports have virtually been non-existent, until yesterday.  There was a high school baseball game.  I went to it.  I haven’t really done that in the 12 years.  Something about lost youth?  I dunno – baseball is still my favorite sport, and the game I played.  I sat in stands looking out onto a field, and pitching mound, on which I played . . . 50 years ago.  To think 50 years ago is frightening . . . it’s probably time to buy new underwear?

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[Knute Nelson Field (or is it Stadium?), opening day, 2013 – for anything!  The varsity and JV teams were shoveling snow off this field just a couple days ago.  Our Cards were hosting the Cards of Willmar, in a double header.  The rest of the season will be double headers.]

Before we proceed any further, it’s time for you to call up the following video.  If you are a student in class, crank this puppy up full blast!  (OK, only kidding.)  But this is the best baseball (or softball) song of all time, and I recommend continual play as we re-live the first game in still photos.  Without further adieu (with thanks to Anne Riggs for teaching me “adieu”), John Fogerty’s classic, Centerfield:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqY7e4bP9PQ

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[After three quite lovely days in a row, Tuesday was overcast and windy.  The wind was chilly out of the northwest, i.e., blowing in directly from centerfield (take that, John Fogerty!).  I thought I’d last a couple innings, at best.  Then Newmie came by to greet the fans.  Al Newman, of Minnesota Twins fame, is the manager this year for the Alexandria Blue Anchors (nee, Beetles), of the college players Northwoods League.  Then I saw the new school superintendent, Rick Lahn, standing in the ramp, and we had a nice visit for the better part of an inning.  The gist of which was that when I played on this field, before the age of the dinosaurs, the outfield fences were wooden, with ads running from the left field line to the right field line, and our own version of the Green Monster in dead centerfield.  The closest I ever came to a homerun was hitting the base of the Green Monster on the fly in batting practice]

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[Our Cards coming off the field after the top of the first.  So, this is probably a good time to introduce them:]

baseball '13

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[Batting lead-off for the Cards, Nick Knoblach, senior rightfielder, No. 13.  With my limited coverage of boys’ sports over the years, one of the few names with which I was familiar.  Nick is also a fine football player, as I recall.  😉 ]

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[The Willmar pitcher had pretty good stuff.  We had trouble with him early.  He had a 1-2-3 first inning with 2 strikeouts.]

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[Pitching for our Cardinals was Beau Backhaus, senior, No. 12.]

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[He worked fast, pitched to contact, and showed pretty good control.  Which may seem oxymoronic as he did hit 3 batters, all with curves that didn’t.]

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[He mixed his pitches and changed speeds well – threw a lot of slow curves, which appears to be the pitch here.]

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[From my one game scouting report, this kid can play.  Zach Peterson, junior shortstop, No. 3, showed all the tools . . .]

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[He can run, throw, field, and spanked the ball around pretty good too.]

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[Another familiar name, as the pretty-darn-good hockey goalie.  Ben Allen, senior 3rd baseman, No. 9.  Looks like he can play this game pretty good as well.]

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[Parker Bowden, junior 2nd baseman, No. 1, backed up by Knoblach.]

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[A closer view of the guys.]

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[Bowden here backed by Jeff Swedberg, senior centerfielder, No. 2.]

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[Parker prepping for the next pitch behind Beau.]

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[Must have been Bowden’s moment in the lens.]

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[Patrick Leary, senior catcher, No. 6, was impressive – looked good behind the plate and has a strong, accurate arm.]

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[A defense has gotta be strong up the middle – Peterson and Swedberg.]

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[Christian Anderson, senior leftfielder, No. 10, would make the play-of-the-game.]

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[Grant Becker, senior first baseman, No. 19, made several nice picks on throws in the dirt.]

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[Backhaus, a bit of a deceptive three-quarters delivery.]

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[Go foul!]

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[Another breaking pitch?]

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[The last time I got in that position, I had to be gurneyed to the chiropractor.  (This computer is telling me “gurney” is not a verb.  Well, oh yeah!)]

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[Spiderman?]

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[A shot to right center was run down by Knoblach.]

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[Swedberg and Knoblach come in to hit!]

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[Is it No. 3?  If so, Peterson.  This may have been the shot he hit to deep center but was caught.]

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[The Willmar catcher had a foul tip hit his bare hand – always pleasant in chilly weather.]

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[Peterson]

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[It may have been this at bat – just ripped a line single to center.]

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[Cody McLaughlin, junior designated hitter, No. 15, hit several balls hard but no hits.]

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[Bowden]

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[Leary]

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[Bowden with a lead off first.]

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[Leary unleashes a mighty swing.]

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[The results of which I already don’t recall – other than it looks like me trying to get out of the right side trap on No. 17!]

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[Even Al Roebke of informedTV.com was wondering where it went?]

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[Ahh, that must have been it.  The single that drove in the only two Cardinal runs of the game as Swedberg, the number 9 hitter, and Knoblach, the lead-off hitter, both scored.  Now it can be told . . .]

Final score:  CARDINALS – 2, Cardinals – 1

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[So, yay for our team.]

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[But we left Allen on 3rd.  And twice grounded into double plays when it looked like we had something going.]

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[And the runner is . . . SAFE!  Earlier Backhaus picked off a Willmar runner, but the base ump, who is then stationed behind the pitcher, obviously couldn’t seen the tag so he called the runner safe.  Seems in a two umpire situation, that call would be easier for the home plate umpire?  Just a thought.]

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[And the score after 3 1/2 . . .]

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[Swedberg had a couple of nice shots out of the 9 hole.]

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[Knoblach again at the top of the order.]

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[Now Nick’s on 2nd.  As I recall, as a result of a bad throw.  But for the first game of the year, I thought it very welled played by both teams.]

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[Becker, batting 2nd.]

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[Let’s kill some time here just to annoy the cub reporter.  He knows the supervisor is waiting at home for them to go out to dinner at Bella’s!]

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[A cameo appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, who would not be scared off the field.]

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[As I recall the only walk by Backhaus came around to score on a clean single – that no-out walk will bite you every time.  And then it was great diving catch by leftfielder Anderson of a blistered line drive that saved the day – two more runs would have scored for sure.]

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[Allen – trying to hit one through the “5 hole”?  😉 ]

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[Knoblach came in to close in the top of the 7th.  Apparently one of those guys who play anything at any position.  🙂  ]

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[Allen warm-ups]

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[Peterson warm-ups]

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[Nick has a good arm . . .]

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[What you look for in a closer.]

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[The defense was ready behind him.]

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[Let’s wrap it up!]

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[A 1-2-3 7th and he has a save.]

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[Please drive home safely!  I did not stay for game 2.  Tortellini awaited at Bella’s.  It was terrific, as was the supervisor’s fettuccine alfredo.  We learned from the baseball mom’s, a/k/a, the Fat Boys Walking Club associates and photographers, at the Y this morning that our Cards won the second game also, and that the JV team (for whom their sons play) swept Willmar as well.  🙂 ]

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[That morning we had the final interment for the grand old elm.]

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[Steidl’s returned to put the body parts in the chipper.]

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[Uffda, well at least it was sunny in the morning.]

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[The bigger body parts had to be loaded by the jaws-of-death!]

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[And there it is – almost as big as the chunk of change it will take out of our wallets!  😉 ]

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[The stump will remain as a headstone.]

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