State tournament stories: Shakopee Coyotes and Dave Pass Q and A

By Bob Greeley

2018 Shakopee Tri-Chairman

This article is on the Shakopee Coyotes and Dave Pass. Pass is a big Shakopee booster. He is a lifelong resident, graduating from Shakopee High School in 1987. In high school, he played football, hockey and baseball and was the 1986 homecoming king.

He was a Suburban West All-Conference selection in baseball his junior and senior years and likewise in hockey his senior year.  He was also all-region in baseball his junior year. He was captain of the high school hockey and baseball teams his senior year. He played town ball for the Shakopee Indians one season, one season with Belle Plaine, and was a player/coach with the Coyotes for three seasons, and another two years as their coach. He currently serves as the team’s general manager.

He played baseball two years at Bemidji State as a catcher. His wife, Mary, is a New Prague native and they have three children: Molly, Dylan and Devin. His dad, Chuck, was a member of the 1959 Shakopee Indians state championship team; and his mom, Pat, is a local girl from the Nevin family, who along with Dave, is a member of the Shakopee High School Hall of Fame. The Pass family are huge supporters of the Shakopee community, its schools, and loves baseball.  

Pass still coaches youth baseball in the Shakopee community, is a Shakopee Youth Baseball Association board member (currently serving as its vice president), is a board member of the local Chamber of Commerce, and has his own insurance business in downtown Shakopee. He is a Shakopee Lions Club member, is the club’s past president, and is currently the club’s assistant gambling manager. Pass also found time to be a tri-chair with Bill Schleper and Jeff Jonckowski for the 2008 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament that Shakopee co-hosted with Chaska.   

Let’s talk about the Shakopee Coyotes (founded in 1999) who are members of the DRS League. How and why did you get involved with the Coyotes?

In the fall of 1998, I received a phone call from Gary Hartmann. Gary and Charlie Fonder wanted to talk to me about creating another local town team. It was all about giving our local Shakopee kids an opportunity to play amateur baseball. So, these two recruited me to lead the effort in coaching this new team and to start finding local ballplayers. So, when the DRS league had their winter meeting, we attended and asked to join the DRS. The DRS league agreed to allow us in with a two-year probationary status with some conditions. The condition was for two years, all of the teams members had to be Shakopee residents. So, we had fundraising and scheduling to complete … find ballplayers … it was work.  But good, baseball work. I was a bit older that these younger players, and Gary and Charlie felt I would be a good influence that they needed.

Was and is the DRS a good fit for the Coyotes?

Absolutely. The league and teams greeted us with open arms. The DRS is great baseball with great traditions, super teams and nice ballparks. The teams have great fans and the teams are relatively close, so it was not a lot of driving. The then St. Patrick Irish manager Monte Hennen followed us a lot when they were not playing in the league and regional playoffs. It was and is great. Sitting around and talking with those guys after games at the ballpark is something I will always remember.  

Any great memories playing and coaching the Coyotes?

Our very first year of existence, we made the 1999 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball tournament that was played in Marshall/Granite Falls. We had two full Greyhound buses loaded with fans attending. That was great. Our player Justin Simon just hit bombs for us. Justin was a special player and person. And Dave Anderson had 17 strikeouts in one of our nine-inning games (he pitched 8 2/3 innings) we played against Arlington. Think about that. Seventeen of his 26 outs were strikeouts.  

I see that the current Coyote roster is all Shakopee High School graduates, with the exception of four players (Bloomington Kennedy, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, and Delano)? Is going after the local talent base a priority?

Yes, it is a priority getting local Shakopee players and giving them another opportunity to play the great game of baseball.  

The Coyotes have had five state tournament team entries since 1999. Share with me those experiences. 1999 (Marshall-Granite Falls), 2002 (St. Cloud-Cold Spring), 2012 (St. Cloud), 2015 (Cold Spring-Watkins), and 2016 (Dassel-Hutchinson).

All were great. You remember the first one the best I guess. We had a few local Shakopee kids who played Division II and III baseball and they played with us in the summer. We had some pretty good sticks in the lineup.

Challenges moving forward facing town team baseball in Minnesota as we currently know it today?

It’s a long day to play baseball – six hours minimum – for the players. You need to be dedicated and love the game. Bringing the wood bat back to Minnesota town team baseball was the right decision. I guess I am old school, a purist. Players need to be passionate about the game. The actual game itself moves too slowly for many to play and watch. I just happen to love it.

Shakopee co-hosted with Chaska the state tournament in 2008. What was that like? Lots of work behind the scenes, correct?

You should know! You are doing it right now for the 2018 tournament. It was more time consuming than I thought it was going to be. Our volunteers were great. Our community support was super. The city of Shakopee support was very nice. Once the tournament actually started with games, it was nice to sit back a little and take it all in. The hard work was done.

Twins fan?

Without question. What do you think?!

Nice town team ballparks in Minnesota?

Watkins stands out. Joe Schleper Stadium here in Shakopee with the improvements since 1998 are excellent. Jordan’s Mini-Met. New Prague’s improvements are awesome. Green Isle. Arlington. Chaska.  St. Patrick. Hamburg. Montgomery. And many more.

Is Joe Schleper Stadium underrated?

Without question. It is looking great.

Thoughts on Shakopee co-hosting with New Prague beginning next month (Aug. 17-Sept. 3) with Jordan being the third site?

I know for you guys that the partnership with New Prague has been really good. The baseball community thanks the entire state tournament committee at both sites for all this work you are putting in. I hope to see you at the ballpark during the state tournament with the Coyotes playing in it!  

Any closing thoughts?

The last town team game I ever played was with the Coyotes playing at St. Benedict. For my first at-bat in that game, I hit a grand slam. My second at-bat, I hit a three-run home run. After I hit the second home run and got to the dugout, I decided to retire on the spot. I pulled myself out of the game and decided to end this on top. My time was done. It was great. It was time for the younger guys to have the same opportunity I had.

1999 State Tournament Team Photo

Front Row: Terry Kalina (Lonsdale draftee), Randy Busch, Chris Steinhoff, Tony Pass, Corey Fonder, Justin Simon, Jay Buckentine, Steve Lebens, Matt Hoppensted, Jim Buesgens (Lonsdale draftee)

Back Row: Dave Pass, Dick Steinhoff, Ben VonBank, Steve Hartman, Sean Giesen, Jesse Hartman, Dave Kreft (Arlington draftee), Brian Brown, Luke Monnens, Pat Schmitt, Ron Johnson  

2015 State Tournament Team Photo

Front Row: Jeremy Singleton, Andy Lazzari, Alex Gregor, Jeff Hohenstein, Tanner Graff, Zak Hoffman

Middle Row: Dick Steinhoff, Alex Johnson, Dusty Steinhoff (New Prague draftee), Joe Sabal (Lonsdale draftee), Cody Pamperin, Bret (Bozo) Hoffman  

Back Row: Scott Bode, Dylan Pass, Matt Conrad, Alec Pauly, Chris Steinhoff, Logan Becker, Jesse Nystrom

(Not Pictured): Matt Theis, Brandon Benner, and Jeremy Latour

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