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Baseball memories from rural Minnesota

When I think back to the 1960s, I hear the static buzz of my older brother’s transistor radio as he dials in ’CCO.

FOR BABY BOOMERS like myself, summertime memories of life in rural Minnesota are as much about consuming pitchers of sugary Kool-Aid, picking rocks and walking beans as about baseball.

Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Memorial Park Baseball Field, home to the Dundas Dukes., an amateur baseball team.

When I think back to the 1960s, I hear the static buzz of my older brother’s transistor radio as he dials in ‘CCO. Play-by-play with Halsey Hall, Herb Carneal and Ray Scott. Names familiar to my generation as the voices of the Minnesota Twins.

Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
A carving of a Dundas Dukes baseball player stands just outside the baseball field in Dundas.

And then the players themselves — greats like homerun slugger Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva and Rod Carew.

My brother, when we played pick-up games of softball after the evening chores, role-played Killebrew. There was no arguing the choice among us siblings. He was always Killebrew as we pulled on our worn gloves or thwacked the grimy softball with a wooden bat or sped across loose gravel, rounding the discarded disc plates that served as bases.

Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
This plaque, by the baseball player sculpture at Memorial Park in Dundas, summarizes well thoughts on baseball.

Such are my memories, along with remembering the stacks of baseball cards my brothers collected. They chewed a lot of bubblegum.

My interest in baseball, like the demise of the transistor radio, has faded through the decades. I don’t watch the game and occasionally catch only wisps of a radio broadcast.

Photo by Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Looking through the fence at Memorial Park Baseball Field in Dundas.

But this week, when all eyes focus on major league baseball’s All-Star game at Target field in Minneapolis, the memories rush back.

I hear the static. The cry: “Batter up!” I see ball connecting with bat, my older brother slamming a homerun over the milkhouse. I race toward the bouncing ball, feet pounding across gravel. I scoop up the ball. And, as always, I fail to throw with any force, landing the ball far short of upheld glove. And my brother sails across home plate, arms flying. It’s another homerun for Harmon.

This post was written by Audrey Kletscher Helbling and originally published on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

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