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Night baseball comes to Aitkin - MessAge Media: Outdoor Recreation

Night baseball comes to Aitkin

Night baseball comes to Aitkin

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Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 5:00 am

A second major renovation at Woock Field will be the installation of lights for night baseball. This will open a new era for Aitkin baseball and attract teams from around the state. Connie Lueck Field (Aitkin’s Little League diamond) has had lights for decades, and the Aitkin Area Youth Baseball Association (AAYBA) often gets asked by area teams, “Can we come up and play a night game?”

In Feb. 2018, Jerry Holm, a Gobbler baseball and football standout in the 1950s, former owner of Mayer Electric and supporter of numerous community projects, learned that the city of Crystal was putting up new lights at their baseball facility. Their old lights and 12 poles were available – free. There was one stipulation – take all or none. A set of bleachers was also included in the offer. A decision had to be made quickly because other schools were interested in the lights.

Of course, there would be costs involved with removing, transporting, and installing the lights, and there were no funds available through the school.

A group of baseball supporters including Doug Green, CEO of American Peat Technology; Jerry Holm; Tom Kuppich, president of ASA; Dave Cluff, president Aitkin Baseball Boosters (ABB); volunteer baseball coach, Dr. Austin Krohn and coach Jeremy Janzen met to brainstorm the project – removal, transportation, installation, and costs to light Woock Field.

Without the generous financial support of Doug Green and American Peat Technology, Mayer Electric and Troy and Ann Espeseth, B & L Masonry, night baseball at Woock Field would likely not occur.


Last fall, Kelly Holm, current owner of Mayer Electric and Jerry Holm, organized a group of volunteers to travel to Crystal to dismantle the lights. Jerry and American Peat Technology hired a crane company to remove the poles from their base. Rod Enberg, an Aitkin High School graduate, provided two semi-trucks and trailers to transport the 65 foot poles. Tony Klee and Tim Shereck, former Aitkin baseball players, and employees at Mille Lacs Electric Company (MLEC) arranged to use an auger from another electric company to drill the 10 feet deep holes. B & L donated their time to pour the eight concrete bases. MLEC and Aitkin Public Utilities will mount the lights on the poles and raise them onto the cement foundations when the weather warms. Wiring will be donated by Mayer Electric and done by Kelly Holm.

Plans to continue the project will resume when the winter weather warms. The goal is to flip the light switch by mid-April. “We are inviting all former Gobbler baseball players and fans to return for a special ceremony to unveil the scoreboard and the illumination of Woock Field,” concluded Janzen. “When teams contact us about playing night baseball against our high school varsity, Babe Ruth, American Legion, and the Aitkin Steam, we can proudly say ‘Yes.’”


The final renovation at Woock Field, tiling the swamp in left field, will occur after the spring baseball season.


There has been a long history of volunteerism and contributions at Woock Field. A hitting cage, Big Bubba, was donated in memory of fallen police officer Steven Sandberg. An announcer’s booth constructed by Hills Construction and Hometown Lumber and paid for by the baseball boosters and Aitkin Quarterbacks Club. Bat racks and dugout signage donated by Bruce Peterson. Kellie Janzen converted the green dugouts to red and black. Players, parents and fans spent countless hours pumping water from left field so games could be played in the spring. During more than one April, tractors, snow blowers and players with shovels removed snow from Woock Field, which was the only baseball diamond in the area that could host games.

Several former players chose improvements to Woock Field for their senior projects. Jack Kuppich arranged that professional clay was compacted at home plate and on the pitcher’s mound; a donation by Austin and Colleen Krohn and the baseball boosters and Aitkin Quarterbacks Club paid for the project.

Nathan Ehnstrom chose to create a bullpen area down the right field line. Jordan Chouanard arranged for safety fence to be installed in front of the dugouts. Expenses for the senior projects were paid for by the baseball boosters and Aitkin Quarterbacks Club.

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