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The Drill: For Scott Bahr, amateur baseball is a smart summer ticket

JACKSON -- The old-timers remember when every little berg had an amateur baseball team. They had fans who were devoted. On some Sundays, whole towns came out to watch the boys of summer play.

Scott Bahr Drill web 07 18 18.jpg
Scott Bahr
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JACKSON -- The old-timers remember when every little berg had an amateur baseball team. They had fans who were devoted. On some Sundays, whole towns came out to watch the boys of summer play.

There was nothing much else to do in the days when TV was black-and-white and the Internet wasn’t yet invented, so baseball was the big draw. The games were hard-fought on the dusty fields of southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa, and beyond. Sometimes, scouts would come out to see the local hero. And if he was really good, he found himself in the minor leagues somewhere.

Scott Bahr doesn’t really qualify as an old-timer. But he remembers a great deal. Manager of the Jackson Bulls and president of the First Nite League, Bahr has been involved in the sport for about 30 years as a player or a coach. Along with Hadley Buttermakers manager Myron Bennett, who also serves as Gopher League secretary, Bahr helps set the tone of what constitutes amateur baseball around these parts.

There have been many changes down through the years. Years ago, the leagues embraced aluminum bats. Recently, however, they’ve gone back to wood bats.

“At first, it was a pretty scary change,” Bahr recalls. “But it’s the best thing that ever happened.”

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He adds: “The sound of a ball hitting a wood bat is great. If you ever go watch the (Minnesota) Twins in spring training, and you’re walking around and you hear that sound coming from three or four different parks … yes, I think it brings some traditional sense back to amateur baseball.”

Bahr is a good ambassador for amateur baseball, saying it’s become more of a fan-friendly game over the years. Fans still see strategy, speed, and -- of course -- a lot of dynamic players, some of whom have played or are playing for good college programs.

The Globe checked in to visit with Bahr recently in Jackson, at Wacker Field adjacent Jackson County Central High School. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com . Here are a few highlights from the interview:

QUESTION: What are some of the things you do in your current role?

ANSWER: “We want to make sure that everybody is having a good experience -- meaning, we want to have players who are legal. There’s a state board that has a lot of rules and regulations, and we kind of transfer them over to the managers.”

Q: Who are the tough teams in the First Night and Gopher leagues, generally?

A: “You’ve got Hadley, and you’ve got Luverne. Those two are at the top right now. They’ve been good for a long time. And with that, I think, some good high school programs that they’ve had. They’ve been coached really, really well in their high schools. So when you see good high school coaches, you’ll usually see good amateur teams in the next few years.”

Q: So what was it like for you in your amateur baseball playing days?

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A: “I think I probably started playing and managing at the perfect time, so I got to see some of the real hard-nosed players. We didn’t have rules like you can’t run a catcher over. We had those collisions. People got it in the ribs (a pitched ball) if they needed it. Of course, that stuff doesn’t happen anymore today, and it’s not accepted anymore today, and that’s OK.”

 

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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