Instead of spending afternoons and evenings at the ballparks like Red Haddox Field and Tony Oliva Field in Bloomington and Donaldson Park and Spartan Field in Richfield, baseball programs have navigated two months without games.
Kennedy baseball head coach George Walker doubles as the manager for the Bloomington Bandits, a Class A amateur ball club. As for the reigning Metro West Conference champion Eagles, Walker has remained in contact with the team, especially the senior class despite not being able to do anything in person for two months.
“I knew what we had and was pretty excited about being very competitive,” Walker said.
Kennedy went 11-8 overall and 8-4 in league play to finish two games ahead of Jefferson which finished 11-7 overall and 8-6 in Metro West action. Kennedy went 1-2 in the double-elimination Section 3-3A tournament.
Captains included seniors Tyvan Klinger (outfield), Jack Tiemann (infield/pitcher) and Joe Jeans (infield) along with classmates Henry Doncavage (first base/pitcher), Jack Scott (catcher), Zach Forester (outfield/pitcher) and Eric Dums (pitcher).
The underclassmen ready to make a mark on the lineup were Tyler Jost (outfield/pitcher), Will Scott (third base/pitcher) and Brett Conway (first base/pitcher).
Walker liked the attitude and work ethic the group brought in a very short time they were around each other, one week, before distance learning and the season cancellation went into effect.
He’s talked with the seniors going on to play college baseball and some others about informal and unstructured ball practice once the school year is over. “At that point it would be OK to have the grads play some with the Bandits either games or just practice depending on the status of Townball at that point,” Walker said. “I feel terrible for all these seniors and of course selfishly wish we could have seen this through. A great group of young men with very bright futures. Every one of them.”
The Kennedy junior announced his plans to play football at St. Olaf after graduating in 2022. Simmons rushed for 982 yards during 8 regular-season games as a senior in a crowded backfield. He scored 10 touchdowns and averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Simmons was also an accomplished sprinter for the track team in 2019, capturing the Metro West Conference title in the 100-yard dash in 11.13 seconds. He turned in an 11.06 to win the Spartan Invite in Richfield earlier in the year. He also anchored the winning 4x100 relay at the conference relays and Edina Invite.
The Gophers redshirt sophomore and mid-distance runner from Bloomington was one of four teammates to garner the Blue Collar Award for her dedication to the team. In 11 indoor races she made her Big Ten Championships debut running a career-best 2:10.99 to place 15th in the 800 meter run. She also ran a career-best 1:35.32 int he 600 meter at the Larry Wieczorek and won the 800 meter at the Minnesota Open before the season ended March 12.
Sports businesses reopening
May 18 marked the day some businesses could reopen doors to the public while following safety protocols. Baseball 365, an exclusively baseball and softball shop run by Nate Cousins and Ryan Cousins in Bloomington was eager to welcome customers back into the store instead of curbside sales.
According to their Twitter account (@Baseball_365), hall of famer and former Twins player and manager Paul Molitor stopped by later in the week and a young customer colored a baseball picture to mark the occasion.
Baseball 365 also supports a Class A amateur baseball team which plays in the Park National League with home games at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis since 2014.
The Cousins originally came to the Twin Cities 20 years ago after growing up in Moorhead. After attending Hamline University and playing baseball they stayed in the metro. They decided to open a baseball- and softball-specific store after struggling to find an alternative to Dick’s Sports or Sports Authority, at the time.
Ten years ago the location fit for what they needed within their price range. Baseball 365 was named the 2018 Central Top Dealer for Wilson, Louisville Slugger and DeMarini.
“We just started because we needed a baseball store,” he said. “Being a baseball player my whole life, Dicks and Sports Authority wasn’t cutting it. Every guy I ever played with hated having to go to [Dick’s or Sports Authority]. So we decided to open a store and we stock some of the nicer equipment you can’t find at other places.”
Including baseball cards a decade ago was a bold move.
“The entire hobby was dead,” he said. “We were one of the only card shops in the Cities. Now that card collecting hobbies has started to make a huge comeback, kids are connecting again like when we were kids. It’s wonderful to see.”
Last Thursday, my daughter and I found our way back to Instant Replay (90th Street and Penn Avenue) in Bloomington for her first real shopping experience since early March. We were in search of a replacement hockey net and left with a catcher’s helmet and hockey socks. Last year we walked in looking for a softball helmet and left with a longboard skateboard.
These shops need our continued support for and we literally need to do our part to help them stay in business.