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Senior Men’s Baseball Searles Ballpark a hit

Searles Bullheads pitcher Dayton Larson delivers a pitch on Saturday, August 14 during the Senior Men’s Amateur Baseball State Tournament in Searles.

Al Drexler and his son Jeremy have been associated with Searles and Hanska baseball for a long time.

The Drexlers, who are now putting in time with the Searles Bullheads, were among the many proud residents of Searles and Hanska the last two weekends as both towns were among four that hosted the Men’s Senior Amateur Baseball State Tournament. Searles finished the tournament 2-2 under Jeremy’s management. Al, meanwhile, worked the concession stands and Jeremy joked that the only time he left was when he was working on the field in between games.

While he may have been joking, the two put in a lot of time and effort for both the team and the field this year. They were both proud of how the community rallied around the baseball park to help make the event go well for all the fans and players.

Jeremy Drexler and a few others from the area went to the state board a while ago to have Searles, St. James, Hanska and Mankato be considered to host the tournament. The process took a little while, but eventually all four sites were approved to host. However, there were some issues that had to be considered when making the bid.

“Usually you try to have three sites in mind when you submit that, we were fully aware that Mankato might have some issues with the MoonDogs playing at home or not, so we had Hanska as a backup, one because we knew Searles would host a church picnic on the last day, that’s just the way it falls every year, and Hanska was willing to be a host site the first weekend if needed,” he said.

Searles Bullheads players and some younger fans often hang out on the field before the game to keep a good family atmosphere.

He said that there was a lot of planning beforehand, and it took a lot of work to figure out exactly how everything was going to go down.

“Dan Baumgartner in St. James was the one who really spearheaded this, he’s the one that wanted to host in St. James,” Jeremy Drexler said. “Dad and I obviously jumped on board, we knew going into this season that we were going to host, we just didn’t know how many volunteers we were going to find, if Hanska was going to be a host site and Hanska ended up hosting three out of the four days. They [the Hanska Lakers] were playing in the state [Class C] amateur tournament, they helped us as much as they could but we had to get the guys to commit some extra time. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well.”

Drexler said that every one of the Bullheads players worked three shifts at a minimum for the tournament, so

me working even more. He said that they wanted at least three people in the concession stands and also the players helped with the grounds crew in between games or help in the press box with announcing or the scoreboard. He guessed there were about 10 volunteers working each game.

Drexler also said that weather was basically a non-factor for the tournament, with the exception of Sunday when there was a delay in Searles and one game being canceled in Mankato.

Overall, Drexler was proud of the way everyone came together to make everything work.

the sign outside of Searles Ballpark, which hosts two amateur baseball teams and recently was one of four hosts of the Senior Men’s Amateur Baseball State Tournament.

“Just like the church picnic or anything else in a small town, it takes a community of people willing to volunteer and put in the time,” he said. “We have a great group of guys on the baseball team that aren’t afraid to help out, everybody stepped up and did their part.

“It was fun to play at home, too, so that’s what made it worth it in the end, having bigger crowds for the Over-35 guys, Saturday night’s crowd [August 14], that first night against Becker, the defending champs, was a lot of fun and I think that’s what kind of made it worth it,” Drexler said. “Great help from the baseball team and obviously the Searles community, Christie Dewanz made sauerkraut for a ton of games this summer and especially the last two weekends so we could put a great spread as far as players and fans when they came to the park.”

A statue of a grizzly bear is outside of the Searles Ballpark. The town of Searles has both the Grizzlies that plays in the Tomahawk East League and the Bullheads, the Over-35 team.

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