Sun Patriot: Norwood baseball out for the year

–by Adam Gruenewald

Given low numbers, leaders of the Norwood baseball team have decided they will not field a team this year for the first time since the team started in the early 1900s.

The Crow River Valley Baseball league, which started their season on Sunday, had realigned to three divisions for this season and a CRVL meeting was set for Wednesday to address the situation.

The decision to not field a team was a difficult one, according to Corey Storms, one of several veteran players.

“The last couple of years it’s been a struggle to field a team already,” said Storms, who was on the team for 18 years from 1996 to 2014 and also was a batboy when he was 3-years-old.

Storms, who last played two seasons ago, said numbers have dwindled in the last five years as Norwood had to forfeit several games last year.

“We weren’t going to go through that again and have 10 players to fill nine spots,” he said. “It’s impossible. We didn’t have nine guys who were truly committed this year so it just wasn’t going to happen.”

Matt Hoen, who has been on the team since 2000, agreed.

“There just wasn’t numbers to field a team really,” said Hoen. “They all have jobs and families and they can’t make it every game.”
Hoen, who works construction, was among those who were going to miss five games a year because of his schedule.

While there were some players committed to the season, Storms attributed the decline in numbers to Central High School providing local players for four teams – Norwood, Hamburg, Young America and Cologne. Also, finding reliable local players was a challenge.

“It’s hard to get players,” said Storms. “You try getting guys from Waconia and Chaska and stuff but they aren’t hometown guys so they are not quite as reliable. It got to be pretty tough.”

Hoen also acknowledged the “top heavy” nature of the CRVL, combined with open transferring of players, had an impact as well.

Norwood baseball, which has struggled in recent years in terms of their record. The team last made the state tournament during a run in the late 70s and early 80s, reaching the pinnacle in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1981. Perhaps their strongest run of success was two decades prior when they made the state tournament from 1954-1958 and 1960 and 1962-63.

“I didn’t want to see Norwood baseball not necessarily say die, but there’s such a rich history of Norwood baseball and I didn’t want to see it see it end this way,” said Hoen.

The news hit home for CRVL Central Division President and former Norwood player and manager Jim Zellmann, who was considerably frustrated.

“It’s heart breaking, you never think it’s going to happen and you never hope it does happen,” he said. “You don’t wish that upon something that you love doing, love being around and love being a part of. It’s something that’s been part of the community for a long, long time.”

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