Hamel baseball looks to future
Tim Flemming and Hamel amateur baseball go back a long way.
As a 10-year-old, Flemming served as batboy for the Hawks franchise. He was wide-eyed, but also observant. The baseball players became his idols.
When he became a teenager, Flemming dreamed of playing for the Hawks, specifically as their second baseman, but he had to wait.
There wasn’t room on the Hawks roster at first, so he went to Loretto to play his first year of town ball. The next year, he got the call to the big club in Hamel, and he has been wearing a Hawks uniform ever since – playing for more than 20 seasons and managing after that.
“There’s a great baseball history in this town,” Flemming said last week. “Paul Fortin started the team, and the first games at our park were played in 1929. For many years, the stadium was filled. We even had Dick Siebert playing here.”
Championship baseball has been a big part of the Hawks’ legacy, and they were state champions in 1989 and 1999.
As the longtime Hamel manager, Flemming has stayed in shape and looks like he could still play, but most of the current Hawks are less than half his age.
There’s still nothing better for Flemming than playing a 2 p.m. game on a Sunday at the Hawks’ home park,
“This is a really nice small-town baseball park,” said Flemming. “But one thing is missing – lights.”
Flemming is on a mission to make Paul Fortin Memorial Park a lighted field sometime in the near future.
“Now that the team is playing a Class A schedule, it is difficult for us to host a game on a week night,” said Flemming. The Hawks play in the Riverview League with Bloomington, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, the Northwest Orioles, St. Louis Park and Hitdawg Academy from Chaska. It is a stretch for those teams to be able to get out to Hamel for a 6 p.m. game, Flemming explained. With no lights, a 6 p.m. start time is needed to avoid darkness.
“A lot of the ballplayers work until 4 or 4:30, and that doesn’t leave much time to get to the field,” said Flemming. “I thought this would be time to push for lights.”
Lights would allow the Hawks to play an expanded schedule on weeknights and would also help the town host weekend tournaments.
Loretto, the town-ball field closest to Hamel, has lights on Arnold Klaers Field. It is a beautiful setting for night baseball with the stands high on the hill overlooking the ball diamond.
Local government would supply some of the money to put lights around Paul Fortin Memorial Park, but donations are needed to supplement the project. The total price tag would likely be somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000, Flemming said.
Flemming hopes baseball fans from the cities of Hamel, Corcoran, Medina, Plymouth and Wayzata will dig deep to help light this grand local park.
Anyone wishing to donate should send a check to Hamel Baseball, 13225 34th Ave. N., Plymouth, MN 55441.
Information: Greg DeVos at 763-228-3136.
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