Cromwell-Wright takes swing at bringing back baseball
Tucked back behind the west corner of their town's small school sits the Cromwell-Wright baseball field, often vacant.
In fact, the Cardinals haven't put a school-sponsored baseball team on that field for the past eight straight seasons.
And while the winter season is in full swing, community members are taking a swing at bringing back baseball for this coming spring prep season.
While Little League has survived in each of the tiny towns, the lack of older members and interest had Cromwell-Wright cancel their team after the 2010 season, sending any would-be interested student-athletes 20 miles westbound on Minnesota Highway 210 to play in McGregor's cooperative program.
Ironically, while enjoying his family vacation from the baseball-rich country of the Dominican Republic recently, Cardinals activities director Dave Foster estimated that three to four students per year have been playing for the combined squad.
Yet, Foster said residents have been contacting him and Superintendent/Principal Nathan Libbon about returning baseball as a standalone sport. Thus, a signup sheet was created, a newsletter distributed and announcements made to continue to grow interest.
According to a recent school newsletter, all students in grades 6-12 who are interested in playing baseball this spring are encouraged to sign up by Wednesday, Jan. 9.
That's when the School Board will meet next and evaluate the numbers of the exploratory signup to see where the interest of the sport lies at Cromwell-Wright, the letter said.
"I'm as interested as anybody to see how many we come up with," Foster admitted. "It all comes down to numbers."
Speaking of numbers, the MCW program went 1-12 last spring, losing their final 10 games. Meanwhile, the last time Cromwell-Wright fielded a team, the Cardinals went 1-14, getting their only win over McGregor 8-7 in the final game on the Cromwell-Wright field May 17, 2010.
Despite nearly a decade of absence, the return of a team is real, with the likelihood of a junior varsity or junior high squad being formed if the numbers are regarded sustainable.
If added, baseball would be one of the 11 MSHSL-sponsored activities offered at Cromwell-Wright, which has an enrollment of just 92 students in grades 9-12.
"We're just trying to figure it out and see if we can do it with our numbers," said an optimistic and supportive Libbon, now in his 11th year as principal and former Little Leaguer himself. "The more we can get our kids involved, the better."