by Dan Woychick
Though the name of this blog is think + do, a significantly higher percentage of posts could accurately be filed under “think” – as in what we’re thinking about nonprofit marketing and design. Occasionally, we use this venue to write about things we’ve done – or are in the process of doing. This is one of those times.
Minnesota Town Ball is a self-assigned project intended to showcase and document the history of amateur baseball in the state. We are seeking institutional partners and funders to help us make this idea a reality.
Every summer for generations, baseball has united communities across the state. Before there were professional teams, 24-hour sports networks, and retail outlets selling team merchandise and apparel, baseball players played for their town – and for the love of the game. And they still do.
Minnesota Town Team Baseball is a tradition that is as much a part of the state’s history as iron mining, lefse, and the Mississippi River. It encompasses a rich visual and aural history – great stories of local legends and heroic exploits – that should be documented and shared.
Minnesota Town Ball represents pride without hubris, competition without conflict. It connects families and communities in ways that few other things do. It reminds us of the way things were, and the hope that they can be that way again.
Thousands of people play amateur baseball or softball in Minnesota every year, from T-ball to high school, college, and American Legion teams. Today, there are over 300 teams playing organized Town Ball across the state. And yet little has been done to capture the long and rich history of the sport for future generations to enjoy.
Additionally, those who played the sport before professional baseball arrived in 1961 are getting older (70s and 80s). If this project is not undertaken soon, we risk losing those stories and memorabilia forever.
We believe this project would be eligible for – and a strong candidate to receive – Minnesota Legacy Funds. Minnesota Town Ball would have broad public appeal, with an exhibit proposed to coincide with the 2014 baseball season, and the Major League All-Star Game scheduled for Target Field that summer. The exhibit website would be kept in perpetuity. Additionally, we anticipate it will:
- Represent the most complete and comprehensive history of the game in Minnesota.
- Serve as the go-to resource for those interested in Minnesota Town Ball.
- Provide efficiencies for anyone interested in researching the subject in the future.
- Offer tremendous opportunities for gift shop and online merchandise sales in support of the exhibit.
Possible outcomes include renewed pride in a town’s local nine, increased interest and participation in amateur baseball, and increased appreciation for the role of sports in society.
Our primary audience is:
- Minnesota amateur baseball players and their families
- Minnesota baseball fans
Secondary audiences include Minnesota sports fans, local and regional print and broadcast media, and the general public.