Inaugural Town Ball Classic set for June 27

Posted on May 6, 2015 by CJ Siewert

While driving home with his 3-year-old son last Thanksgiving, Chris Reuvers had some quiet time to think to himself with a sleeping toddler in the back seat.

Reuvers, a radio personality for 1500 ESPN in the Twin Cities, pondered the past 20 years he’s been involved in amateur baseball with the Faribault Lakers and the Chanhassen Red Birds. The idea of broadcasting town ball games played at Target Field came to mind and after jotting down a few ideas the ambition to make it a reality kicked in.

“It almost made too much sense,” Reuvers said. “The Twins just needed a radio partner and someone to connect to town ball.”

Now, just five months after the initial idea was brought to mind, the inaugural Town Ball Classic is set for Saturday, June 27 at Target Field.

Reuvers has put a lot of legwork into getting the event off and running, but he said everyone involved at Hubbard Family Broadcasting and the Minnesota Twins have been extremely supportive.

“They’ve been fantastic,” Reuvers said. “They are absolute gems. Even people in the company such as Joe Soucherry and Patrick Reusse – who typically don’t care about anything [jokingly] – are asking how they can help.”

The inaugural Town Ball Classic features three games throughout the day, including Class C, Class B and Class A games at 12, 3 and 6 p.m., respectively. Tickets are $10 and are good for all three games. All proceeds go directly to the Twins Community Fund, which enriches local and regional communities by providing resources for the healthy development of children and families through an association with baseball, softball and the Minnesota Twins.

To start the event, 1500 ESPN’s Saturday Morning Sports Talk Show will air live from Target Field from 10 a.m. to noon, leading up to the first game of the day at 12 p.m. between Chanhassen and Faribault, which is considered the Class C game. Although Chanhassen is now Class B, the two teams were selected prior to the Red Birds being reclassified during the April State Board meeting.

“The players are excited to play the game they love at such a premier location,” said Chanhassen manager Mike Ralston. “As a strong supporter of Minnesota Amateur Baseball, the Chanhassen Red Birds hope the Town Ball Classic promotes and showcases the high quality of amateur baseball played in local communities throughout the state of Minnesota, resulting in an increase in fans at local games.”

Although the organizer of the Town Ball Classic has strong ties to Chanhassen and Faribault, the news of being selected to play was still a shock for the Lakers.

“It took the team by surprise when we told them we would be playing a game at Target Field,” said Charlie Lechtenberg, manager of the Faribault Lakers. “We are proud to represent amateur baseball, the DRS League and Faribault in the Town Ball Classic.”

The Class B game features two Section 3 teams in the Mankato Twins and Shakopee Indians.

“No state has amateur baseball like Minnesota,” said Mankato Twins player/manager Steven Helget. “The level of talent, number of players and fan following is unique, and hopefully this day will continue to make it more popular. We couldn’t be more excited.”

The matchup between the Twins and Indians also made sense for the two teams because of their regular season schedule.

“Once we looked at the schedule and saw Mankato [new Section 3 opponent] was the other Class B team, it worked out perfectly as we were supposed to play them in Shakopee on June 28,” said Shakopee manager Gary Schleper. “So we just bumped that game to Target Field and are playing it a day earlier.

“Amateur baseball in Minnesota is an awesome and inexpensive form of entertainment in local communities. Events like the Town Ball Classic can help keep it alive and kicking for years to come.”

The final game of the day at 6 p.m. includes a “Minneapolis vs. St. Paul” matchup in Class A opponents Lyon’s Pub Warriors and the St. Anthony Hogs.

“As a team without a home field, we pride ourselves on being able to play anyone, anytime, anyplace,” said Lyon’s Pub manager Rob Schildgen. “And in this great state, there is no better place to play than Target Field. Hopefully opportunities like this create excitement across the state just like the State Tournament does in Class B and C and more and more young men come back home from college, or pro teams, and want to continue to play ball at a high level. 

“Town ball in Minnesota has an extremely rich history and the Town Ball Classic will help provide a little more exposure to MBA sanctioned teams and at the same time we will be able to help give back to our communities by selling as many tickets as possible with all proceeds going to the Twins Community Fund.”

Michael Dunn, manager of the St. Anthony Hogs, echoed Schildgen’s sentiments and thinks the event is important to help advance town ball throughout the state.

“As a team from a small community within the Metro, being included in the Town Ball Classic will help to build awareness and interest in men’s amateur baseball,” Dunn said. “In addition, the opportunity to play at Target Field is something all our players are looking forward to, and it will be a great opportunity to get a big crowd out to watch a good, competitive ball game.”

To help promote the Town Ball Classic, 1500 ESPN is offering radio spots for sponsors that buy 100 tickets to the event. Tickets will soon be available on the Twins website.

Since the event won’t likely draw the 40,000-plus attendance in which Target Field can hold, only the lower bowl will be used for fan seating.

“This is an opportunity for a parent to take his or her children to Target Field and experience the stadium without the huge crowds as there would be at a Twins game,” Reuvers said. “They can run around the concourse without worry and see the whole lower half of the stadium.

As of right now, Reuvers is simply hoping the Town Ball Classic goes smoothly and benefits everyone involved. Once that is achieved, the goal is to make it an annual event with new teams each year.

“Town ball is in the culture of Minnesota, we love to be around it,” Reuvers said. “How great the idea of town ball is, to have communities rally behind their baseball teams. I am very passionate about it and will continue to be.” 

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