A baseball dream turns into a reality

FAIRFAX — After months of planning and work, the fruit of Jim Weinzetl’s labor became a reality on Saturday afternoon.

The Fairfax Baseball Museum, which was a project Weinzetl dreamt up last fall to preserve the town’s baseball history, opened at Memorial Park on Saturday for fans. Saturday also was a big day for the town as an old-timers game was held at 5 p.m. Saturday night, which followed a fundraiser for Lenny Linsmeier, which was held at Mayflower Country Club that afternoon.

Plenty of fans showed up to check out the museum Saturday and Weinzetl was all smiles.

“The response has been incredible,” Weinzetl said. “The cool part was to dream it, to envision it, to work a lot of hours on this thing. A whole bunch of people said it’s not going to work, it’s too small — it’s spectacular and to see something and to have it turn out better than you hoped, it’s worth it to me.”

Brock Kiecker played at Memorial Park from 1965 as a freshman in high school until around 1983 when he stepped away from the Fairfax Cardinals’ amateur baseball team. His brother, Dana, played professionally for the Boston Red Sox and Brock now lives in Eagan. On Saturday, he came down to check out the new museum and he was impressed.

“This was amazing and long overdue,” Kiecker said. “Some of us have hung on to a few things over the years and this is a perfect place for them to be. To let people see things from the past and the number of different activities here, a number a benefits here to give back to baseball.”

Kiecker has a special spot reserved for him in the museum. There’s an article about his 22-strikeout performance in an amateur game against Gaylord, a game where he was a college player going up against a younger squad. Kiecker pitched for St. Cloud State University at the time, so once amateur season rolled around, his arm was in mid-season form. The same couldn’t be said of Gaylord’s bats, but baseball works in weird ways. While Kiecker got plenty of strikeouts, he somehow didn’t get the win as Gaylord prevailed 6-5.

“We had a little bit of problems that day, because our catcher wasn’t there so we had to improvise,” Kiecker said of that game. “I only know of one other player that struck out 22 people in a nine-inning game. Unfortunately, we lost the game but it didn’t really matter but was my forte, I threw hard and struck out a lot of people.”

While the museum wasn’t 100 percent complete on Saturday, it will be something that can change throughout the years as time passes on.

“We already decided we’re going to have somebody younger, that has the passion to do this, to continue this,” Weinzetl said. “It’s designed so that you can add things and improve things. As the time passes, the museum passes but the history of Fairfax baseball will always be here.”