Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When a non-sports fan (me) takes in a Faribault Lakers baseball game August 2, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Bell Field in North Alexander Park, Faribault, Minnesota.

Bell Field in North Alexander Park, Faribault, Minnesota.

God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.

On Sunday afternoon at Bell Field in Faribault, the faithful—some drinking beer, some not—gathered to watch the Faribault Lakers take on the Montgomery Mallards as the preacher pitched and music blared mostly catchy country lyrics. Like Billy Currington’s tune about God and beer.

Fencing and netting obscure the field. But I was thankful for both to keep us safe.

Fencing and netting obscured my view of the field. But I was thankful for both to keep me safe.

I sat in the stands, taking it all in, more interested in people watching and the setting than the game. I’ve never pretended to be a fan of any sports. But I’ve wanted to attend a local Minnesota Baseball Association game this summer simply for the experience.

Father and son bond at the ball game.

Father and son bond at the ball game.

So when my nephew phoned and invited my husband to join him at the ballpark along with his 3-year-old son, I tagged along.

The roofed grandstand keeps fans cool.

The roofed grandstand keeps fans cool.

Admittedly, the high heat and humidity concerned me. To my relief, the roofed stadium provided shade and the wind breezed like a fan on low speed.

Matt Lane in pitching mode for the Faribault Lakers.

Matt Lane in pitching mode for the Faribault Lakers.

A later shot of Lane also pitching.

A later shot of Lane also pitching with focus and determination.

Lane's pitch speeds toward the batter.

Lane’s pitch speeds toward the batter.

Sharing a can of icy beer with Randy, I turned my attention to the field where the Rev. Matt Lane stood at the pitcher’s mound, focused and ready to crank up a pitch.

A number one supporter of the Lakers' pitcher.

A number one supporter of the Lakers’ pitcher, the reverend’s little girl.

To my left, his family and friends clustered, Lane’s preschool daughter in a blue shirt imprinted with her daddy’s surname. Lane, associate pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in Faribault, played college baseball and three years in the minor league.

A Montgomery Mallard races toward home plate...

A Montgomery Mallard races toward home…

...then slides into home plate.

…then slides into home plate.

I tried to follow the game. But I had a difficult time tracking the fast-moving baseball and anticipating the action. I’ll never be a sports photographer. I get too distracted by nuances like the violent throw of the bat by a batter who’s just struck out or by concern about the runner lying on the field, his pride, not his body, injured.

On either side of the announcer's box, I saw barn swallows swoop under the roof.

On either side of the announcer’s box, I saw barn swallows swoop under the roof.

Other details also garnered my attention such as sparrows nibbling dropped popcorn, teenage girls licking red suckers, barn swallows swooping under the roofline, the thunk of a pop-up ball slamming the metal roof, a boy roaring a toy car across bleacher seats, Elton John belting Crocodile Rock (one of my favorite 70s songs) over the ballpark loudspeaker, kids wrangling behind the Mallards’ dug-out for a foul ball knowing they’ll get a free Freezee pop for returning the ball…

My 3-year-old great nephew watched the game for awhile.

My great nephew watched the game for awhile and then got distracted by whatever distracts a 3-year-old.

Just in case a ball came our direction...and a ball to play with.

Just in case a ball came our direction…and a ball to play with.

The score wasn't looking too good as the game moved in to the final innings.

The score wasn’t looking too good as the game moved in to the final innings.

I was distracted, too, by my adorable great nephew dwarfed in his Minnesota Twins shirt and red Elk River baseball cap. Landon soon joined the Lane kid crew in tossing and chasing a ball, enough busyness—along with munching popcorn and sharing Skittles—to keep him content to the bottom of the seventh inning. By then, the Lakers trailed far behind the Mallards, eventually losing 10 -2 in a regional play-off game.

Heading back to our vehicle in the parking lot, I stopped to photograph this pick-up from an area dairy farm.

Heading back to our vehicle in the parking lot, I stopped to photograph this pick-up from an area dairy farm.

As the eighth inning began, some fans left and we soon joined them. Will I attend a local baseball game again? Maybe. But next time I’d like to check out the Dundas Dukes.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Batter up for the Faribault Lakers.

Batter up for the Faribault Lakers.

And the batter swings.

And the batter swings.

The Montgomery Mallards dug-out.

The Montgomery Mallards dug-out.

My great nephew watched the game for awhile.

My great nephew watched the game for awhile.

I had no clue what any of the ump's hand signals meant.

I had no clue what any of the ump’s hand signals meant.

I always appreciate an iconic scene of fans in the stands.

I always appreciate an iconic scene of fans in the stands.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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16 Responses to “When a non-sports fan (me) takes in a Faribault Lakers baseball game”

  1. Nice article 🙂 I Like baseball however I’ve been procrastinating for 9 yrs to walk 2 miles down the road to watch my Johnson City Cardinals in the Appy league (I don’t trust strapping my bike to a pole that long in this large community. I miss Minnesota where we did not install a key lock on the front door till 1963. Daddy took us to many many Twins games & I lived for Baseball in grade school) 🙂 sorry to rant on

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    It is always interesting to me to see what others see at events that I am attending as well and there is always a lot to see at sporting events. You definitely captured a lot of different things that helped make the long hot game more appealing.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    i think you nailed the small down baseball experience. I am with you – not a sports fan – I would have also focused on [literally] other aspects of the event.

  4. Littlesundog Says:

    Like you, Audrey, I am not a sports fan and my camera is my friend when I feel I must attend some event (usually a family member). And usually I get side-tracked photographing fans and oddities that no one else seems to catch. I’m so out of the game focus that you could ask me the ending score and I wouldn’t even know that much!! Ha ha.

  5. I’m not much of a sports fan, either, but I love going to St. Paul Saints baseball games because there is so much going on in addition to the actual game that makes it really fun- the little games that get kids out on the field between innings, the pig who carries out fresh baseballs, the goofy mascot, the food and beer and people. The minor leagues are way more interesting than the major leagues to me! And a small-town game just seems like the epitome of summer activities. The photos you took of your nephew are really sweet.

    • The extras you cite about the St. Paul Saints are the reasons I want to attend a Dundas Dukes game. They have themed nights with activities and that is what I’d most enjoy. I’ve heard the Saints games are great fun.

      Landon is naturally photogenic and so darned cute. I have even more adorable pix that I didn’t share here. His mom said, “I’ll have to get some prints made.”

  6. I’m not much of a baseball fan either, but I’ve been thinking it might be fun to go to a minor league game again sometime. The big leagues are too crowded — except years ago we went to the White Sox games a few times. This was before they moved into their current stadium. It was NEVER crowded, so it was kind of fun. The couple of times I went to Cubs’ games, it was a madhouse.

  7. Baseball has got to be one of the most boring sports to watch but it would have been a blast to people watch. Love your pictures


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