St. James A’s celebrate return of amateur baseball

ST. JAMES — After a six-year hiatus, amateur baseball is back in St. James.

“It has been around 2018 since we have had amateur baseball here in St. James,” Doug Jones, the manager of the team that will be called the A’s said. “We have had quite a few players who have been playing in the American Legion program here and they are starting to age out of that.

“Some of them aged out last year and some are this year. And we tried to bring back amateur baseball last year, but we did not have the numbers to make it work and comfortably go forward with getting back into the Tomahawk East League.”

Jones, who spearheaded the drive to bring amateur baseball back, said that this year he has a fairly substantial number of kids who were out of legion baseball.

“They did not have anywhere to go to play,” Jones said. “And a lot of the older players — middle 20s and 30-year-olds also expressed interest in coming back to St. James and playing amateur baseball here.”

Currently St. James’ roster has 27 players listed.

“We have the numbers and it felt like now was a good time to give it a shot because it is important to me that these kids have a place to play. We stuck a lot of money into the facilities here in town. And it was sad to watch kids who wanted to play amateur baseball go other places.”

Jones said that St. James had the A’s for many years.

“Then we switched to the Express and we have always had baseball in town at every level,” he said. “But it was tough with the numbers because we would have college kids and they would move away and there was not much bringing those kids back to St. James.”

Jones, who will be helped by Jared Schwanz, is also a member of St. James Youth Baseball Association.

“And they own the field now,” he said. “We have always had the finances to support amateur baseball here, but it was we had to make sure we had the player numbers to support it.”

Jones said that the majority of the players on the team that will be known as the A’s are from St. James.

“But we do have a couple of players from Mountain Lake and Madelia,” he said. “I would say that 95% are in the 30-mile radius allowed by the Tomahawk East League. And we have a couple of the Heritage Rule players that have moved away but are coming back.”

Jones said that he has received a lot of positive feedback from the community.

“The A’s have done a Bean Bag Fundraiser to bring in money for youth baseball and not just specifically for the A’s,” he said. “We received really good feedback with that — it was one of the biggest fundraisers that we have had. The whole community has supported it, so we are looking forward to the season getting started so we can see what kind of support we get at the field for our games.”

Jones said that when the first home game is played there this season — Sunday, May 12 for a 5 p.m. game against Lamberton — he will be happy.

“And I will be proud that it happened and I will also be glad to have given the kids the opportunity to be there,” he said. “And it will be nice to see them playing amateur baseball where they grew up. They are excited to be back at home.”


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