Hamel rebuilds with young talent

Sports Editor

Famous town ball team dates back to the year 1926

The Harlem Globetrotters traveling basketball troupe first went on the road during the summer of 1926.

That same year, in Hamel, Minnesota, another successful franchise was founded by amateur baseball enthusiasts.

Shortstop Nick DeVos of the Hamel Hawks fires a throw to first base in the Hamel Hawks’ 7-0 loss to St. Louis Park Aug. 4 at Andrew Klaers Field in Loretto. (Sun Sailor photo by John Sherman)
Shortstop Nick DeVos of the Hamel Hawks fires a throw to first base in the Hamel Hawks’ 7-0 loss to St. Louis Park Aug. 4 at Andrew Klaers Field in Loretto. (Sun Sailor photo by John Sherman)

For 10 decades, the Hamel Hawks have been one of the famed clubs in Minnesota town ball. Achievements of the organization include state Class B titles in 1987 and 1997, second-place state finishes in 1989 and 1992, and a Continental World Series title in 1993.

During the last 40 seasons of Hawks baseball, the one constant has been the presence of Tim Flemming. He is the manager now, but during his 20-year playing career, he showed grit and versatility that helped make Hamel a powerhouse in the amateur ranks.

With a young team this summer, the Hawks were not able to contend for a championship, but they did show a great deal of improvement, according to Flemming.

“When kids come from high school or college baseball to a wood-bat league, that’s a big difference,” he said. “You have to be shorter with your swing when you’re using wood.”

The Hawks were 9-17 this year and won their first Riverview League playoff series before losing a second-round series to St. Louis Park, 16-0 and 7-0, last week.

The 2017 season marked the first year the Hawks have played Class A baseball, instead of Class B. They joined the Riverview League, which includes teams from Bloomington, Chaska, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Osseo and St. Louis Park. Flemming indicated the move was needed to expand the recruiting base for his team. Under Class B rules, the Hawks could not recruit players from inside the 494 loop.

“We have a great group of kids playing for us,” said Flemming. “It’s a different society now, and there is more going on, so the guys can’t come to every game.”

First baseman Jake Marsh of the Hamel town ball team lines the ball into left field during the 7-0 loss to Park. (Sun Sailor staff photo by John Sherman)
First baseman Jake Marsh of the Hamel town ball team lines the ball into left field during the 7-0 loss to Park. (Sun Sailor staff photo by John Sherman)
Starting Hawk pitcher Kyle Bode puts on his warmup jacket following a competitive effort against St. Louis Park. (Sun Sailor staff photo by John Sherman)
Starting Hawk pitcher Kyle Bode puts on his warmup jacket following a competitive effort against St. Louis Park. (Sun Sailor staff photo by John Sherman)

The Hawks had 11 players on hand for the second game of the playoff series with St. Louis Park. Although the Hamel club couldn’t get the key hits they needed, Flemming thought they competed well.

“Our starting pitcher, Kyle Bode, gave it all he had and did a good job over six innings,” Flemming noted.

Bode, a traditional overhand pitcher with a live fastball, worked his way out of two bases-loaded jams during his appearance and left in the seventh with the score 5-0.

“We needed a couple hits with two outs to get back in the game,” said Flemming. “We probably struck out more than we should have.”

The Hawks’ good nucleus of young players is led by Bethel University’s Jake Marsh, a former baseball and football star at Wayzata High School.

The roster is heavy with Wayzata High graduates. The pitcher, Bode, is a Rockford High grad. Shortstop Nick DeVos had a very successful high school career for Providence Academy.

“I know we can get better the next few years,” said Flemming. “We’re positive. In all, it was a good season, a fun season.”

Additional players on the Hawks roster are Matt Blanchard, Clayton Bodine, Matthew Bohlke, Michael Bohlke, Taylor Broderson, Collin Coats, Stephen Curbelo, Robert Dworsky, Tim Flemming, Dom Flemming, Josh Gallop, Cody Goedderz, Parker Hlavacek, Joey Johnson, Tyler Meyers, Nick Nelson, Grant Nonhoff, Aaron Pietsch, Soomin Song and Andy Williamson.

As a franchise that has been around as long as the Harlem Globetrotters, the Hawks are still entertaining fans with their traditional 2 p.m. Sunday ball games. Flemming is determined to rebuild the winning tradition with young players from the western suburbs and adjoining small cities.

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