Fall baseball a success in New Ulm
NEW ULM — With no high school or legion baseball to play this spring and summer, Al For of New Ulm decided to implement an idea that he had been kicking around in his mind — the possibility of a fall baseball league here in New Ulm.
“I had been kind of throwing around in the late summer about starting a fall baseball league because at that time there was not going to be any high school football,” Flor said. “I reached out to teams in the section to see what the interest was. It seemed like a good idea and we had teams who were interested in playing in it.”
Eventually Flor got 10 area teams to play a schedule that began on September 12th and ran until October 10th with teams playing two games on a Saturday at Johnson and Mueller Parks.
Three teams from New Ulm, and teams from Springfeld, Marshall, St. Peter, Sleepy Eye, Mankato East, Madelia and Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop participated.
Each team was scheduled to play 10 total games.
And the New Ulm Junior Baseball Association had teams play games late Friday afternoons.
“When I contacted the teams they were all happy about doing it,” Flor said. “I had other teams interested but we had to cut it off at a point because we did not know what to expect. We were kind of late in starting it. We had to switch gears with the level of competition.”
Flor said that while the overall reaction to the league received all positive comments, he said that perhaps the initial season ran too long.
“But COVID also played in it,” he said as two teams had to withdraw because of a player testing positive during the schedule. “That caused some teams to have to play three games in a day as we had to change the schedule. The overal comments were good and I have heard nothing but good things from everybody that was involved. All of the teams said that they are looking forward to next year and fall baseball again.”
And what about a second fall league here?
“We all learn from what we do,” Flor said. “There are a lot of things that we found out as we went along. If we do it again next year we are going to need more help.”
Fall ball is something that Flor feels can be done here as it is in other areas of the state.
“I think that fall baseball is something that you will see continue to happen,” Flor said. “You are seeing this happen in other sports. “You can play basketball, hockey or volleybal year-round. We can’t play baseball in the winter. So fall baseball is the best that we can do give kids a chance to improve. And if high school football is played in the fall next year, we would probably play games on Sundays.”
And Flor would like to fine-tune it and improve it with teams and use that to tie into having it be showcase for players to be seen by college scouts.
“There is something to be said where we can help the area. We may revamp it with possibly some bigger teams.”
Flor also said that New Ulm is looking at — in addition to the two legion classic tournaments and the Section 2AAA tournament — additional tournaments.
“There has been talk about bringing some pods of team from the Gopher Classic to both Johnson and Mueller Parks next year. That would involve the legion,” he said. “Our VFW and Legion tournaments should be back next summer and there is talk about expanding that.
“We are looking at high school tournaments — maybe a jamboree or something like that which would be similar to what St. Could has,” Flor said. “There has been talk about an amateur tournament but our board gets stretched thin. And our Legion and VFW boards have been talking about hosting more district and state tournaments at Johnson and Mueller Parks.
“I really appreciate all of the help from all of the volunteers who put in a lot of long hours to make this happen,” Flor said.