Small Town Baseball
By Thomas Sartell
“” “Baseball-“the All-American sport”—at times also has been the all community sport. Other sports activities such as hockey and basketball were pretty much “pick-up” activities, but baseball sometimes came to the point where some organization was called for. Its local popularity expands or contracts by influences such as the local economic condition, aggressiveness of promoters and availability of local talent to fill all the positions. Now though, no matter how bleak the prospects, there always seems to be some activity, organized or otherwise.
The 1920’s probably stand out as the time of greatest small-town baseball local interest in Central Minnesota. The local game had just moved from sand lot and pasture diamonds onto improved graded and graveled surfaces and players – usually all volunteer and payless, of course—into distinctive uniforms. Villages and their best athletes on the fields but, lacking enough players, sometimes sought additional participants from nearby farms and even smaller hamlets. There were even some teams put together in rural areas where there were no villages but a lot of community spirit, all the players being farm boys.
We were in the midst of such a community of communities. Sartell had a team and often played Holdingford, Opole, Mayhew Lake, Foley and other small community teams. For some time in the late 1920’s, though a more or less formal league—“The Mississippi Valley League”—got us into quasi- professional status, with paid umpires, accounting and accountability rules and the like. More teams were attracted, such as the Dinty Moore’s of St. Cloud and more distant towns. Our own team, of course was dubbed the Papermakers.
Some teams could afford to have paid pitchers. Such a person could deal with whatever team he wished and often realized $15.00 for his Sunday afternoon effort. He could pitch for one team one Sunday and its opponent the next.”
And Sunday afternoon it was. The whole male population of the village seemed to turn out-often several hundred persons—to watch their sons, brothers and friends triumph or get trounced. There were no bleachers. People sat in or on their cars, on blankets or on the ground. Most stood. And all had a good time, probably the only times in their lives when they could cheer or jeer to express themselves without being criticized.
The only seating was two benches—one for the home team and one for the visitors. A couple of men circulated among the crowd in an effort to garner loose change admission fees, which were about the only source of support for the local nine.
The team furnished the uniforms, bats and balls and perhaps some specialized equipment such as the catcher’s paraphernalia. Put player bought their own gloves and perhaps furnished their own shoes to be fitted with cleats. There was usually someone selling pop and candy at such Sunday events.
Almost everyone who saw those long-ago games remembers some specific occurrence from them. For me it was a magnificent home run hit by Rip Sartell, a strong batter. I that saw the ball go up and out over center field, clearing the edge of the diamond by at least 60 feet and sailing through a huge oak tree and out anywhere down a hill.
No other hit anywhere ever came close to matching it, in my view. And Rip, rounding the bases, came puffing toward home plate, his obvious excess weight keeping him from the greatest of speed.””
This is a direct quote from the book; History of Sartell, Minnesota Lumber, Paper, Valves and Progress A Century of Progress Welcoming a Century of Promise pages 231-232
Mississippi Valley League Championship Game Rooster
August 19, 1928
Sartell beat Sauk Rapids 6-5 in 13 innings
back row far right Ray Anderson
front row 4th one from the left is Jim Anderson.
Tom Anderson and his other brothers Floyd and Lloyd also played for the 51-52 team.
The Sartell Winter Haven Baseball Team
Can you name any of these players? We are looking for any information about this team. email us with any names or information. Thanks
This photo is from the
1950 baseball team Winter Haven
Small Town Baseball 1950’s-1960’s
By Rip Sartell Jr
“Sartell had several teams during this era. Most of the players resided in Sartell. We played Junior Baseball against St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Rice, Opole, St. Stephen, Elks, Waite Park Moose and several others.
Before every season, we had to raise enough money to pay for the umpires for the home games, balls, bats, catchers equipment, bases, rosin bags, and an equipment bag. We all furnished our own gloves, spikes and sometimes uniforms.
The Sartell Boosters Cloud would help us raise money in the mid 1950’s. We sponsored gambling nights at the Village Hall, raffled guns and boats, setting all of the things for the raffles etc. ourselves. All at the ripe old ages of 11 to 16.
Chuck Schaffer, our coach most of the time arranged for us to fix up the Sartell School playground baseball field. We rented a sod cutter, cut sod from a local farmers land and laid the sod at the field. We also built dugouts out of cinder block and mortar. We drug the diamond with Chuck’s 39 Chevy. We traveled to games in and on Chuck’s 39 Chevy. The whole team road in it, on the running boards on the fenders and on the rear bumpers. We won the 1953 Junior League Playoff Championship, played at the St. Cloud Rox Ball Park. See our Photo below, our team photo taken at the Rox Ball Park. We were really proud. What fun. What life lessons. “
This is a direct quote from the book History of Sartell, Minnesota Lumber, Paper, Valves and Progress A Century of Progress, Welcoming a Century of Promise page 233
Sartell Junior Baseball Team Playoff Champions
Photograph taken in the St. Cloud Rox Baseball Stadium
Left to right
Standing; Joe Bobe, Bob Stellmach, Neal Pearson, Dick Heins, Ray Plafcan, Larry Burton, and Coach Charles "Chuck" Schaffer.
Middle Row: LeRoy Davidson, Gary Akervik, Rip Sartell Jr. , Leslie Milner, Tom DeZurik
Front Row: Ron Hurd, Dick Hurd, Gary "Pro" Hochsprung, Bob DeZurik, Malvin Patton
Sartell Muskies Baseball Team
By Kaye Wenker
“The Early Years-Information provided by Larry (Rip) Rassier. The Sartell Muskies began in 1979. They Joined the Sauk Valley League. The City of Sartell donated the land and a group of Sartell citizens got together to build the baseball field located off of Twelfth Street North. The initial group consisted of Larry (Rip) Rassier, Urban Frank, Larry Traut, Dave Guggenberger Sr., Tom Gaughn, Jim Ohotto, Harold Perry and their wives. Since there was no budget, funding to build this baseball field and park were raised in several ways which included donations from residents, donations from DeZurik and Champion Companies, turkey parties, game day program advertising and a gold tournament.
The score board came from the Dick Putz field in St. Cloud when they put up a new one. The field was built by the organizers of this group and was not ready for play for the first two years of the teams existence so they played on the Sartell High School Field. Which is now the Middle School field. The Sartell Muskies went to the State Tournament the first year they joined the league. Members of the first Sartell Muskies baseball team which went to the State play-offs. They are as follows, Mark Guggengerger, Steve Paul, Rip Rassier, Graham “Punky” Hendrickson, bat boys Todd Ohotto, and Chuck Neslon, Pete Hess, Roger Ohotto, Greg Frank, Tom Gaughan, team host Sid O’hara, John Vinge, Dave Wickstrom, Steve Johnson, John Dolan, Mike Roth, Lynn McClintok, drafted players, Jeff Neutzling from Avon, John Taufen from St. Joseph, John Omann from St. Stephen, and Bill Nelson.”
“1992 State Champion Muskies: Randy Beckstrom, Suzy Pohlkamp, Danny Shea, Brooks Angel, Jeff Hille, Andy Thayer, Brad Smoley, Kevin Stuckey. Carl Johnson and Dave Furcht (draftees from St. Joseph). Greg Thayer, Jerry Pohlkam[, Dick Henkemeyer, John Matchinsky, Mike Nistler, Scot Hille, Jamie Beckstrom, Dave Angell, Paul Wippler, and Bruce Geiser (draftee from Clear Lake). Scot Hille was selected MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the State Tournament.
Two former Sartell Muskies have played for Major Leagues teams. Ben Hendrickson, who pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers and Greg Thayer who played for the Minnesota Twins.
Greg pitched 20 games for the Minnesota Twins in 1978. After his professional career ended, pitched and hit for several amateur teams. In 1992 he played for the Muskies, helping them to win the State Championship.
Ben’s father, Punky Hendrickson, was the Muskies manager in 1999. Ben was drafted by the Brewers and made his Big League debut in 2004.
Another player who made it to the Major Leagues was Greg Thayer. He played for our Minnesota Twins and in 1978 he pitched 20 games for them. After his professional career ended he became a pitcher and slugger for several amateur teams including the Sartell Muskies. Greg played for the Muskies in 1992 when they won the State Championship.
The 2006 Sartell Muskies Baseball Team: Casey Allar, Randy Beckstrom (player/manager), Chris Feneis, Tim Burns, Brandon Knettel, Nate Strenge, Seven Fish, Pete Johnson (player/business manager), Josh Rathburn, Mickey Knettel, Ryan Bottini, Dan Gaughan, Brian Kampa, Evan Oscarson (coach), Jayson Kron, Adam Schellinger, David Schlangen, Eric Oscarson, Brian Schellinger, Travis Weaver, Chad Yamon and Shawn Schoen.”
This is a direct quote from the book; History of Sartell, Minnesota Lumber, Paper, Valves and Progress A Century of Progress, Welcoming a Century of Promise pages 234-235
The above photo shows the members of the first Sartell Muskies baseball team which went to the State play-offs 1979
front row; Mark Guggenberger, Steve Paul, Rip Rassier, Graham "Punky" Hendrickson, bat boys Todd Ohotto and Chuck Nelson, Pete Hess, Rober Ohotto, Greg Frank, Tom Gaughan
back row; Team host Sid O'Hara, John Vinge, Dave Wickstrom, Steve Johnson, John Dolan, Mike Roth, Lynn McClintok, drafted palyers Jeff Neutzling from Avon, John Taufen from St. Joseph, John Omann from St. Stephen, and Bill Nelson
1992 State Champion Muskies Baseball Team
Front Row; Randy Beckstrom, Suzy Pohlkamp, Danny Shea, Brooks Angel, Jeff Hille, Andy Thayer, Brad Smoley, and Kevin Stuckey
Back Row: Carl Johnson and Dave Furcht (draftees from St. Joseph) Greg Thayer, Jerry Pohlkamp, Dick Henkemeyer, John Matchinsky, Mike Nistler, Scot Hille, Jamie Beckstrom, Dave Angell, Paul Wippler, and Bruce Geiser (draftee from Clear Lake.
The scoreboard in this photo is the original board from St. Cloud
Scot Hille was selected MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the State Tournament
2006 Sartell Muskies Baseball Team
Front Row: Casey Allar, Randy Beckstrom (player/manager), Chris Feneis, Tim Burns, Brandon Knettel, Nate Strenge, Seven Fish, Pete Johnson (player/business manager)
Back Row: Josh Rathbun, Mickey Knettel, Ryan Bottini, Dan Gaughan, Brian Kampa, Evan Oscarson (Coach), Jayson Hron, Adam Schellinger, David Schlangen
Not Pictured; Eric Oscarson, Brian Schellinger, Travis Weaver, Chad Yamon and Shawn Schoen
Display case showing Sartell Baseball artifacts