Walk in the hallways under the grandstand of Athletic Park and you will see boards full of baseball memories – great teams and players, previous tournaments, remembered history.
Despite repeated thoughts that the boards found a trash can, Dale Welter’s display remains, always capturing the attention of fans entering the park or visiting behind the first base.
If it happened at Athletic Park, or in the state of Minnesota, in terms of baseball, Welter has an exhibit to honor it.
“I saw it at a tennis tournament probably 30-40 years ago in Edina. They had these exterior screens. I just thought they were so nice. So I started with all the star series and it kept growing and growing, and that’s what it is now. I’ve always wondered about the viewing committee, and the committee is getting griner and griner every year, but that show committee only needs one compliment to continue, ”Welter said.
The man who put Chaska’s ballpark on the map, according to WCCO’s Mike Max, has poured more than 60 years of blood, sweat and tears into Athletic Park. He’s Mr. Baseball in Chaska.
Welter played with the Cubs from 1960 to 1982. It was not until his youth, when he played Legion baseball for Bob Tadsen, that he was part of a team in high school. His school, the Guardian Angels, began a program in his senior year.
After training baseball for three years at Eden Prairie High School, he got his dream job, leading the Chaska High School baseball team from 1981 to 2008.
– I never thought it would happen, but it did. It really sank in. I was a coach in high school, and I had to do everything to make our field a great place to play, says Welter.
Ever since, his role in the park has never diminished.
Whether it’s weeding, learning the right way to rake the infield, entertaining the judges or manning the Ted Nikolai tent along the right field line, Welter is involved in every aspect.
And along the way, he has learned that it’s not just about the players, it’s also about the fan experience.
“Over the years, if you look at the pictures, we have tried to do different things. Tried to make the park the best in the state. I remember many years ago we had this big discussion about fencing the first and third baselines. I was stuck by tripod fences. “In this way, a fan can sit in a chair and still watch the match,” said Welter.
As the 98th annual Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament begins Friday, 8:20 p.m., you can expect to see and hear Welter at the ballpark.
“The field, where it is located, has a small urban feel. You will see parks in the middle of the city, but this one is a bit hidden. And it will always be that way. It’s just a great site. It is not a bad seat on the site, “said Welter.
Read more about what makes Chaska’s Athletic Park a community, on pages 9-12.