Esko baseball field gains new lease on lifeA group of Esko ball players and enthusiasts has decided to make certain there will be a baseball season this year.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A group of Esko ball players and enthusiasts has decided to make certain there will be a baseball season this year.
High school baseball players, their friends and families gathered for a work day on Saturday, Sept. 29, to help replace a fence at the ball field, located along Canosia Road, that was ruined in last June’s flood. The group also spread two truckloads of agricultural lime on the field to replace what was washed away.
“The field is adjacent to the Midway River, and it was under water following the flooding in June,” explained Ben Haugen, head coach of the high school baseball team. “It ruined the dugouts and the fencing and compromised the lime on the field.”
Haugen said approximately three dozen ball players, coaches and community members showed up to help with the Saturday project. Community members donated the use of skid loaders, a compressor with a jackhammer and a post pounder. Thanks to a B&B Market fundraiser at the Esko Spur Station the weekend before, the team also raised enough money to rent a sod cutter for the day as well.
“Our kids weren’t able to play ball here at home this summer due to the flood damages,” said Haugen, “and they were really disappointed. They wanted to make sure they will be able to play baseball in Esko next spring.”
The dugouts were also in need of replacement, and since there were far more extensive repairs to be made to other parts of the school’s athletic complex, Haugen said the group of supporters decided to look outside the district for funding. He, along with Shawn and Sue Northey of the Esko Little League and Softball Association (ELLSA), wrote a grant application to the Minnesota Twins Community Fund’s “Twins Fields for Kids” program.
Just last week they were notified that their grant application was successful and the Association will be awarded $10,000 in matching funds from the Twins’ organization. Haugen said the local match will come from a combination of labor donations, funds from the ELLSA, the Esko Baseball Association and the school district, for a combined total of some $26,000 to fund the dugout project.
“We are so grateful to the Minnesota Twins and their willingness to get involved and support communities in this way,” said Haugen. “Thanks to the generosity of the Twins Community Fund, combined with the hard work of the volunteers who showed up to work on the field, the outlook for baseball in Esko is very positive.”
A storage shed on the field is yet to be replaced.
“It was nice to see everyone taking ownership in this project,” Haugen stated, “– especially our seniors, who demonstrated a lot of leadership to the younger kids. One of the positive side effects of a project such as this is watching these kids growing up and becoming a part of the community.”
Esko School District will have a referendum on the November ballot this year asking voters to approve a $2.7 million referendum to upgrade the district’s aging sports facilities. An operating levy will also go before the voters at that time. For more information about the district’s proposed levy and referendum, go to www.esko.k12.mn.us and click on the “Levy Info” tab or go to facebook.com/eskopride.