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home : columns : dave fjeld
August 9, 2020

6/24/2020 3:27:00 PM
Back at the ballpark
It was good to finally get back to the ballpark last week - especially Island Park.
It's been almost two years since baseball has been played at the only baseball home the Eagles and Pirates have known for the past 60 years.
Social distancing was encouraged, but there's little that the Windom Baseball Association could do to keep friends from sitting next to friends. That was happening.
On the other hand, I noticed others doing their best to social distance in the stands. I also noticed some patrons - older patrons - wearing masks, which is not only their choice, but highly recommended.
The concession stand was a relatively busy place with a variety of measures in place to social distance at or near the window.
As far as umpires go, Windom had just a single umpire working the game - and he did a great job from behind the plate. The same applied again on Tuesday when the New Ulm Brewers came to town. At least in the case of Wednesday's game against Worthington, the umpire did not call balls, strikes and outs wearing a cloth facemask under his metal padded facemask (an option umpires have). And, he didn't call balls and strikes from behind the pitcher, but called the game from his customary location behind the plate.
Opposing players conducted themselves well in the field and at the plate, although, admittedly, most did little social distancing in their respective dugouts. It's a difficult place to get that job done.
One gesture that I really liked came at the end of the game. What seems to have become a somewhat accepted practice is players stepping out of their dugouts and collectively tipping their caps to the opposing team. Rather than shaking hands, this is sportsmanship in the age of COVID-19.
I remember saying back in early June, when there was serious doubt as to whether we would see any kind of live baseball in 2020, that it would be the first time since I was in fifth or sixth grade that I hadn't recorded a game in a baseball scorebook.
To me, one of the real joys of baseball is documenting a baseball game in a scorebook. I like recording the number of balls and strikes, a pop-out to the first baseman in foul territory as an "f3" or a fly out to the center fielder in fair ground as an "F8." I especially like recording a hotbox "5-2-6-1-2" put-out, or a classic, around-the-horn 5-4-3 double play or, more commonly, a "   " for a strikeout looking.
With pleasure I did all of that last Wednesday as the Pirates downed the Cubs 8-1 (see the game story on the sports page).
Now that baseball is back in most local parks, it looks like I'll be scoring and public address announcing games at the home of the Pirates.
Nothing like Island Park
A big hats-off goes to Don and Mike Jackson, Jim Garrison, Dane Nielsen and a handful of others who have played a big part in bringing baseball back to Island Park. (You can read more about that starting on page 1.)
While it's sad that high school teams didn't play ball this spring, it was probably a good thing for Island Park. The newly sodded and seeded ground got a good, undisturbed season of growth this spring and the grass has sufficiently filled out.
It looked like teams were enjoying playing on the revitalized field at Island Park.
Fans apparently enjoy it, too. Jim Garrison told me after the game on Wednesday that a Worthington fan came up to him and said that of all the local ballparks he goes to, Island Park has the most "baseball" atmosphere.
That's a great thing to hear and makes the great amount of work that's gone into bringing baseball back to Island Park worth it.

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