sunday in miesville
it is tough to get out of the office just before the annual sociology meetings next week. but with the summer slipping away quickly and no vacation in sight, i snuck off to red wing this weekend for dinner at the nortons, hiking at barn bluff, and amateur baseball in miesville.
whenever i visit the youth correctional facility at red wing, i pass a ballpark wedged between a cemetary to the right, highway 61 to the left, and cornfields everywhere between. this is jack ruhr field, home of the miesville (pop. 135) mudhens and host of the 2006 minnesota baseball association class "B" state tournament.
i've been threatening to take in a game there for years, and finally pulled the trigger today. i'm not sure whether other states have strong amateur leagues full of skilled players, but "town ball" remains big in minnesota. many teams have kids fresh off the local high school or college team playing with forty- or fifty-something veterans. one also finds ex-minor leaguers in town ball, along with the occasional big-hearted big-leaguer such as terry steinbach, who reportedly still suits up with friends and family for new ulm kaiserhoff.
since there's no money involved, these games are nothing like gimmicky minor league events. the brats are fresh and the beer is cold, but there's no music after the national anthem, no giveaways, and no wacky announcer. the local nine just take the field for a little country hardball against the lads from down the road or around the bend.
today i witnessed a crisp contest between the dundas dukes and the hastings hawks. adam barta, the hard-throwing hawks pitcher, looked strong throughout, while pat wadzinski is a classic hustle-down-the-line catcher. i was partial to the dukes, though, given their stylish glovework. both corner outfielders cut down runners with perfect throws to second and javier guevara made some nice picks at first.
in the end, the hawks prevailed 2-1. the dukes rallied in the eighth, however, when their big third baseman got just under one of barta's few mistakes of the day. neither pitcher walked an opponent, though, and the contest was decided in less than two hours. as a point of reference, the twins-royals game was in the second inning when i parked the car and the seventh when i returned. from the looks of it, i saw the better game on this day.
if you think you might agree, miesville is about 45 minutes south of minneapolis and playoffs continue at "the jack" through early september.