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Perham - a top notch destination for playoff baseball

The East Otter Tail County Fair provided a lit-up and constantly moving and mooing backdrop to the American Legion tournament last weekend

Two years ago, some residents of Perham may have pondered why a group of people would come together, raise a quarter million dollars, just to fix up an old baseball stadium.

Baseball fans from all around the region found out exactly why this past weekend. From the press box down to field level, Tuffy’s Stadium and Krueger Field provided an excellent venue for watching and participating in the American pastime.

Bob Schepper and the grounds crew should be highly commended for having the field and stadium in excellent condition. Where some fields in the area get waterlogged and have games moved, Schepper and his crew take the extra precautions, sometimes to the chagrin of the people in the stands, to make sure baseball is played the proper way and in the best possible conditions.

It’s a compliment to hear fans yelling, “Let’s play ball,” while the umpire and grounds crew await the stoppage of rainfall to their standards, not the fans.

The Perham Chamber of Commerce boasts on their website, “Krueger Field is one of the best baseball fields in the northern half of the state of Minnesota.”

That’s true.

The timing of this year’s American Legion tournament with the East Otter Tail County Fair provided a festive atmosphere, along with a full-rounded day for fair-goers and baseball fans alike.

The variety of music from the stage played a soundtrack to games, along with the lowing of cows, and the blaring noises from chainsaws to the tractor pull and demo derby. The lights of the midway made for a scenic backdrop in left and centerfield and the spinning and whirling of various rides made for a constantly moving beautiful scene as daylight faded each day and the fair took a more prominent position on the horizon.

Baseball in Perham dates back to the late 19th Century and the Perham Norwesters and its future is in good shape for the life of the this version of the stadium that hosts so many contemporary Perham baseball teams.

The 28-foot electronic scoreboard is always a topic of conversation between fans, coaches and players. The covered grandstand was packed for this weekend’s championship game between Alexandria and Moorhead and filled many of the 650 seats, along with providing ample room for competing fan bases to not have to sit too close to each other, yet within shouting distance of both competing cheerers and the umpires on the field.

In any tournament, there is one group of people who take a beating and that is the men in blue. Headed by umpiring stalwart Darwin Bachmann, this year’s crew was excellent in commanding the game, regardless of the biased views of the most hardcore fans and especially the ardent jabber from a group of particular humans I termed “Mompires.” There is no getting away from a mom who believes that call made against her baby is ever going to be the correct decision and it takes a sturdy backbone and a quiet level of certitude, confidence and understanding to take bellowed abuse and be professional about it. Kudos to all the umpires and other volunteers and stadium workers who put on this year’s tournament.

From someone who was there for over 24 hours of the weekend, I saw all the hard work done, and many times, that work goes unnoticed. Stadium announcer Darin Soderstrom put in more hours than I. Perham is fortunate to have someone so dedicated at the mic. His job is far more than just announcing and by the end of the day, those tasks accumulate to what has to be exhaustion. Darin showed up to the stadium with a smile, wore it all day and left with it. He was a pleasure to work with and I am thankful for his efforts and the efforts of everyone involved.

It was a great tournament and shows the payoff of the important commitment that was made to baseball in Perham two years ago when a decision on the stadium was necessary.

That decision was the right one; this past weekend was solid proof.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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