‘This town needs amateur baseball again:’ Detroit Lakes Baseball Club looks like a community first team – Detroit Lakes Tribune

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DETROIT LAKES – The crunch of the bat on a beautiful day in mid-July is a sensation that screams “Summer.” However, he has been missing from Detroit Lakes for quite some time.

Washington Park is expected to welcome a new amateur baseball team this summer. Detroit Lakes Baseball Club is hosting five of its 11 regular season games in what will be a reimagining of amateur baseball in the region.

“We started talking about it last year with youth programs. This town needs amateur baseball again,” player-manager Brandon Johnson said. “We were able to put it in place this spring. The most important thing is that we wanted to solve the problem of the past. There were problems with amateur baseball before in our community. One of the most important things was to not having committed guys or having a good culture. Good ethical things weren’t going on. As a former angel, I can attest that we weren’t angels.

The club includes many former Detroit Lakes High School players who are committed to bringing a professional and fun atmosphere to summer baseball. While the ghost of former amateur teams may linger, Johnson’s community outreach is what he hopes will set a new standard for how Detroit Lakes residents view summer ball.

“We decided we couldn’t be the angels,” Johnson said. “We tossed around a bunch of ideas. Through the Washington football team, we created The Club. We’re the Detroit Lakes Baseball Club. We want to talk about our community. To do that, we didn’t want to separate from our community We have made it our mission to use baseball to celebrate and engage our community.

A challenge for many amateur baseball teams is player and coach engagement. Johnson has ensured that the club is rooted in its expectation that its players respect the game.

Blaine Henderson throws the ball to first base at Ralph Anderson Gym during Detroit Lakes Baseball Club practice on May 11, 2022.

Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“Before we did anything baseball-related, we got together and had a meeting,” Johnson said. “Part of it was generating excitement and showing them everything we’ll be doing. The other part was setting our expectations. There won’t be any booze or other shenanigans from us at the park before , during or after. If you get rid of that, it eliminates a lot of problems.”

“Another thing we talked about was that on game day you don’t show up 10 minutes before the first pitch. We’ll be on the field dressed and ready to go an hour before and ready to do baseball-related things. “The great thing is that we can set those expectations and build a culture. Guys come here to prove not only that they understand those expectations, but also that they live up to them.”

Johnson thinks if people are going to take this new team seriously, they’ll have to deliver.

“Detroit Lakes is a nice, fancy place full of great people,” Johnson said. “If we want to represent these good people, we don’t want to be the bunch of ragpickers. We don’t want to mix junkie t-shirt jerseys and trucker caps for uniforms. We want to make sure we look well and playing well. It’s about building a culture. We know we’re not big leaguers, but we can still be professional.”

The club will play in the Red River Amateur Baseball League. For the inaugural season, the objective is to build on the field the identity of a team capable of competing.

“When we look at our league, our biggest goal is to stay out of the bottom four teams,” Johnson said. “If we finish in the bottom four, we have to play a qualifying game for the regions. Looking at our league and looking at the talent we have, our basement should be third in the league. Dilworth and Ada are teams They’re the two best teams We can be that third team Our goal in year one is to work our way to a deep appearance in a regional tournament I’d love nothing more than a state spot “Honestly, that’s the goal every year. But here, the first year, we want to finish third in our championship to give ourselves a chance.”

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Blake Itzen lines up a ground ball in the Ralph Anderson Gym during Detroit Lakes Baseball Club practice on May 11, 2022.

Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Many Club members have played together on the school grounds. However, the extra pieces built strong chemistry through a few weeks of practice.

“We have a group of guys who graduated last year. There are six of them,” Johnson said. “We have guys who graduated a year or two ahead of them. They all have chemistry and all get along. What surprised me was the random guys. They’ve been amazing for this group One of my biggest fears was lacking team chemistry, especially with the lack of away time, luckily it seems to be organic.

“Casey Ness is our most tenured player so we made him captain of the team. We’re all adults so we can all speak up and be the leaders of this team. That mix of guys made this whole experience so much fun.”

For Johnson, June 1 can’t come soon enough. Winning and losing will be secondary to efforts to change amateur baseball culture in Detroit Lakes. He hopes to play for a team that people want to see play on a summer night.

“After the last few years that people have been through, we want to bring people together to celebrate a baseball team in Washington Park,” Johnson said. “There is no nicer place to be in the summer. We can use our platform to celebrate our businesses and our community. Everything is going great. We have great sponsors and great players. Last three months have been great to see everything falling into place.”

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Casey Ness hits a ground ball at Ralph Anderson Gym during Detroit Lakes Baseball Club practice on May 11, 2022.

Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES BASEBALL CLUB SCHEDULE

May 27 at Breckenridge, 7:30 p.m.

June 1 vs. Hawley, 7:30 p.m.

June 5 at Dillworth, 4 p.m.

June 10 at Carlos, 7:30 p.m.

June 24 c. Erskine, 7:30 p.m.

June 27 vs. Ada, 7:30 p.m.

July 10 at Hawley, 1 p.m.

July 10 vs. Dilworth, 6 p.m.

July 13 at Ada, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 at Erskine, 3 p.m.

July 22 c. Midway, 7:30 p.m.

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