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Winthrop Eagles baseball team may not have a team next year

August 21, 2012
The Journal

Dana Melius, who has been the driving force for amateur baseball in Winthrop for more than 20 years, said that the chances of the Eagles fielding an amateur team for the 2013 season "is 50-50, and that might be a little optimistic.

"But right now, we are planning on the status quo next year, but we are looking at a lot of options," he added.

Some of those options include staying in the River Valley League, requesting admittance into a different league like the Tomahawk East or pairing with another amateur baseball team.

"We have been very open with Ron Beckman, the president of the River Valley League, and we have had a wonderful 10-year run in the River Valley League," Melius said. "It has been the perfect place for us. That really reconnected us with the old Ara Wilson League with teams like Gaylord, Brownton, St. Peter and Kaiserhoff. There were also teams in Marshall and Granite Falls, but the distance and the competition were too steep for us. We were in there for 1994 and 1995."

After being in the Ara Wilson, Winthrop called the Tomahawk East League its home.

"We loved the Tomahawk - there is tremendous history in that league and most of our players were in the GFW school system, which moved toward the old Tomahawk high school conference."

The Eagles' last season in the Tomahawk came in 2002, when they spread their wings for the River Valley League.

"But it became really difficult to get everybody to those mid-weeks games at Springfield and St. James," Melius said. "Geographically, the River Valley League became a better option. So now with 2013 we are going to look at all of our options. If we go back to the Tomahawk, it might bring us back some old players. Next year is the 10th year anniversary of our state tournament run (also a state tournament appearance in 1956) and next year would also be the 20th anniversary of the Winthrop Eagles (not called the Eagles in 1956). So there is some sentiment to having a 20th anniversary team here."

Melius reiterated that all options are on the table.

"The reality is, and if you look at this year's Class C state tournament, is that Chanhassen has 23,000 people,"?he said. "Gibbon, Fairfax, Winthrop and Brownton (all in the GFW system) has only 4,000 people. We are supplying four town teams with 4,000 people. And the Tomahawk is similar in that you have a lot of teams in a small area."

He added that Stark had 14 players in uniform and Waconia has 13 players, "But you can have 20 players on your roster, so the numbers are not there."

He also said that Fairfax has the beautiful Memorial Field, Gibbon is building up its program in a smart way and Brownton has a nice facility.

"We are in a situation where no league is real close to us and the GFW system cannot support four amateur baseball teams," Melius said.

When asked if he saw the day coming when Winthrop amateur baseball no longer existed?

"I have seen it happen twice already," he said. "We did not have a team in 1960 when Winthrop first lost a team and then we got a team going again in 1973 and had to fold up again in 1985. Then we got a team back in 1993."

"I have seen it happen twice already and I would not be surprised if it happened next year," he added. "But we are exploring all options."

Prep loses in World Series

Creighton Prep of Omaha, Neb., which has played here in the Upper Midwest Legion Classic for many years, lost in the American Legion World Series by a 4-3 score to Brooklawn, N.J. Prep was one of four teams left in the World Series. Prep ended its season with a 51-11 record, with two of those loses coming in the Classic here.

Long football roadtrip

This season, St. Peter is playing Hibbing in a high school football game at Chisago Lakes. I think that it is time for a serious look at section football being your conference.



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