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Doug Wolter: The marvelous Windom baseball experience

Yes, it's an uneventful afternoon here at The Globe headquarters in Worthington. It can be like that in early August, with summer sports petering out and high school fall sports not yet emerging.

Yes, it’s an uneventful afternoon here at The Globe headquarters in Worthington. It can be like that in early August, with summer sports petering out and high school fall sports not yet emerging.

So naturally, my mind wanders. Here are a few thoughts that meandered through the empty spaces today:

Island Park is a gem I took in Wednesday night’s amateur baseball playoff game in Windom between the Pirates and the Hadley Buttermakers and once again came away thoroughly impressed with the way they do things over there.

There are other outstanding ballparks in the area, but few can match the overall experience at the beautiful Island Park field visible immediately to your left coming up Highway 60 from Worthington. What really makes Island Park games so pleasurable, I think, are the extras supplied abundantly by Dave Fjeld in the press box behind home plate.

“I have no official title. I just like to be at the ballpark,” Dave told me.

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But thanks to Dave, and others, baseball at Island Park is remindful of the best kind of minor league action, with an impressive scoreboard adding to the experience. Dave, who has announced games since 1986, entertains between innings with trivia questions. Like a professional dee-jay, he mixes music (and organ sounds) between innings and at bats, and adds a few other things you might have come to expect at a professional contest.

“We just try to do some fun things at the ball field,” he said.

Lance Jackson helps Dave with the scoreboard, which was built in 2012. It’s a bright and colorful scoreboard, and on Wednesday, the faces of players on both teams were splashed there the way you might see them at Target Field.

Don Jackson does a marvelous job on the actual field, along with a cadre of dedicated helpers.

Island Park was extensively re-worked in 2011, with the construction of a new maintenance shed and concession stand. In the future, said Dave, additional bleachers may be added and restrooms may be updated.

It’s obvious that there are a lot of people in Windom who love baseball, and love making it a really fun experience for fans.

Nothing worth mentioning The NFL is hiring full-time officials now. I’m not expecting this to improve the quality of reffing, which has been made worse with the advent of instant replay. True, replay has resulted in the reversal of some egregious calls. But it’s also made officials more indecisive in making the original call. … Hats off to the Minnesota Twins’ 44-year-old Bartolo Colon, who pitched seven shutout innings Wednesday night against Milwaukee. He has become the single biggest reason to tune in to a Twins game. And by the way, age is just a number. … The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that the overall number of prep sports participants has increased for the 28th consecutive year in 2016-17. Leading the way was the largest one-year increase in girls participation in 16 years. … I’m the commissioner of my own Strat-o-Matic football league, and my team (made up of 1997 players) consists of Dan Marino, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Tim Brown, Shannon Sharpe, Junior Seau, Dana Stubblefield and Deion Sanders, to name a few. I’m winning. Alot. It’s good to be the king.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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