Sights and sounds of spring

April 13, 2009

by Aaron Schultz

’I hate going out on a limb with us being in Minnesota and all, but I really believe that spring has arrived, at last.

We were all teased a few weeks back with some very nice weather, only to have Mother Nature hit us again with a winter punch.

As a baseball coach and player (well, I used to be, and might be again), the weather can really play games with my head.

First, we get some nice weather and I am excited for a great spring.

Next thing I know, winter is back, and we are back in the gym practicing.

The roller coaster that is spring weather is something that I won’t miss once I hang up my cleats.

With that said, spring in Minnesota is always a great time because it signals the start of baseball, outside baseball anyway.

This past week, not counting Monday, we have had some great spring weather, and it looks like it is here to stay.

Spring always brings some of the best sights and sounds – the crack of wood bats hitting a baseball, the moan of players as they get jammed when it is still a little too cold, and baseball talk, in general, to name a few.

This past week, plus, hasn’t been any different.

Just over a week ago, the Winsted Wildcats had practice at Lester Prairie, and took some cuts in the batting tunnel.

The weather had yet to turn completely, and it was still pretty chilly out.

No matter, the Wildcats still headed outside and got some cuts in.

Although there weren’t many of us out braving the cold on this day, the short practice did meet all my earlier requirements.

Cullen Schultz, Greg Kohler, and Tony Kley all dropped their bats in pain at one point when they got jammed by a pitch from Steve Bisping.

Although it happened a number of times, that didn’t change the fact that we all got a good chuckle every time it did happen.

Even though it may have just happened to one of us just moments before.

Then, there was the crack of the wood bat. That is a surefire sound of spring.

Of course, the talk of baseball was just as good on this cold day.

The only thing that interrupted the baseball talk was when someone hitting in the cage would yell out in pain after getting one on the hands.

After practice was over, the talk always needs to continue somewhere warmer for a few hours, which it did once again on this day.

Moving on to this past week, the weather turned warm, practice outside became fun (opposed to the chore it sometimes feels like when the temps don’t crack 40 degrees), and the baseball talk just kept heating up, even more than the weather.

Of course, the surest sign of spring is baseball games actually getting played, and that started last week, as well.

The Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldog baseball team opened its season at Norwood Young America Thursday.

While things didn’t go the Bulldogs’ way on this day, it was sure fun being in the dugout again, standing in the coaching box, and watching the boys take the field.

This week, the Winsted Wildcats open their season Saturday, April 18 at Stark, kicking off the amateur baseball year.

Spring and baseball – what a great time of year. Too bad it is always such a short period of time.

Help appreciated

Field preparation is always one of the toughest things in the spring for baseball, and this year is no different.

It takes plenty of time, and enough volunteers to do it right, and luckily for me, I have numerous volunteers that help out since I don’t ever seem to have enough time.

Between working at the paper on weekends, and coaching high school baseball, my time seems to shrink every year.

Thankfully, both Lester Prairie and Winsted have volunteers that are willing and able to help me out.

While I don’t know who all helped out at Barrett Park in Winsted this year, I do really appreciate everyone that did to get that field ready to go.

OK, the fact of the matter is baseball games won’t be getting played at Barrett Park for school ball, but softball games will be.

The fact that Barrett Park got cleaned up so that softball games can be played on it, allows another field to open up so that seventh grade LP/HT games can be played.

Then, there is the work that gets done on the Winsted and Lester Prairie baseball fields.

A big thank you goes out to my uncle, Kendall Schultz, and my father, Chuck Schultz for their help this past week, plus, on getting those fields up to shape.

Then, there is always the question of when we can get the batting tunnels up at each of those fields.

This year Troy Feltmann and Larry Roth did a great job of getting the LP net up for us early on, and it looks great. Thanks a ton, guys!

As for the tunnel at Denis M. Campbell Field in Winsted, the Wildcats did their job and got that net up Saturday.

While I have mentioned only a few names, there are, no doubt, a number of other individuals in these two communities that volunteer time to help get spring baseball off to a good start.

As a baseball coach, I can’t thank everybody enough for all their time and effort. It is so appreciated.