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Kelly baseball stories

You'll find a long overdue story on Windom Coach Jack Kelly on page 3 of this week's issue.
There have been a number of stories written on Kelly over the years. In fact, he and I talked about the making of Island Park in 2017, which was a fun trip back in time with some interesting stories about its construction.
This time it's a trip back in time to his days as Windom's head baseball coach from 1960-76.
Why now, you ask?
Well, as I said, it's long overdue. Jack was inducted into the Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in late October. The appropriate time to have run the story was the following week. However, Jack has been staying with his daughter in the Twin Cities area. We finally connected when he came down to Windom just before Christmas.
But it's been my fault we haven't gotten the story in until now. On the other hand, this might be the perfect time with Major League Baseball teams reporting for spring training this week.
So, this is our own little baseball precursor here in Windom. (Yes, I know, a poor cover-my-tracks excuse.)
As you'll see, the story is quite long, but full of good information from Jack, his son, Kent, and Franz Boelter, the man who nominated Jack for the honor. Some stories just didn't make it into the story, so I'm going to share a few here. I hope you enjoy them.
A T-Ball triple play
When directing the summer youth baseball program, Coach Kelly had a T-Ball player - he doesn't remember the youngster's name - who accomplished one of the rarest feats in baseball - an unassisted triple play.
With runners on second and third, the batter hit a line drive to the T-Ball'er playing third base.
"He catches the line drive, takes one step over, touches the base and puts the glove on the guy coming in from second," Kelly recalls. "He didn't think anything of it. He just laughed it off."
Jack, on the other hand, was excited for the little guy.
Speaking of T-Ball, Kelly said he had a routine for T-Ball when they played at the fairgrounds. The first week was like spring training: They did calisthenics, learned how to slide in the wet grass of the outfield and, because every player was required to have a glove, they picked up a baseball glove full of rocks from the dirt infield and dumped them in the barrell.
Then practice began. Ahhhh, the good old days.
Boelter recalls practices
Franz Boelter, who was on Kelly's 1970 state tournament team, remembers the high school variety practices.
"We'd get toward the end of practice and he'd say, 'OK, we're almost done - five more minutes,'  " Boelter says. "We'd just look at each other and roll our eyes. We knew we were going to be there for at least 20. And at the end of those 20, once again he might say, 'OK, just five more minutes.'  "
Grams the base-stealer
You're going to read another column in the future about Bruce Grams, who still holds the state record for stolen bases (48) in a season (1969).
Kelly remembers talking with Bruce after that record season at the local grocery store:
"I said, 'Bruce, I want you to list the things that you thought were important for you to get that many stolen bases,'  " Kelly recalls, already with a smirk.
"He said, 'Number one, you have to get on first base.' He was a pretty good hitter, but he didn't go after anything that was out of the strike zone."
He was obviously smart, too!


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