They call him Bookie: 40 years for Brian “Bookie” Larson and the North Star League

August 3, 2015

–by Brad Salmen, Sports Editor at Herald-Journal

It was January, 1975. The scheduling committee for the Wright Star League, the precursor to what is now the North Star League, was meeting for the first time.

The previous fall, the Loretto manager had complained about the schedule to the league secretary, who threw his pen at the Loretto manager and told him, “here, smart [aleck], you do the schedule.”

Hence, the scheduling committee. On it were three league managers, and 19-year-old Brian Larson. He’d been put on the committee as a joke.

Though he was just 19, Larson’s reputation for numbers and stats had already earned him the nickname, “Bookie.” He’d been a student manager and statkeeper at Dassel and Dassel-Cokato High School for six years, and had been D-C Saints coach Joe Harmala’s right-hand man for scorebook and stats for two seasons.

Despite being nominated to the committee in jest, Larson took the position seriously, and drew up a league schedule prior to the meeting. When the meeting started, and none of the managers seemed to have any idea on where to begin, he handed out that schedule.

The managers loved it.

Ten minutes later, they adjourned the meeting and headed to the bar. Larson, being underage, headed home.

Ever since that winter meeting 40 years ago, Brian “Bookie” Larson has done the league schedule every year. For the last 18 years, he’s also done stats, record keeping, contracts, bylaws enforcement, and numerous other duties as the North Star League Secretary.

“Baseball has given me a lifetime of memories, and it’s certainly been a fun ride,” said Larson.

Love of the game from an early age

Larson fell in love with baseball early. Like many other kids, his first town team baseball experience was chasing foul balls, and dreaming about being a bat boy.

He got his wish at age five, when the Dassel Kernels let him step in when the regular bat boy missed a game.

“I was on cloud nine,” says Larson. “I got to line up all the bats, and they had the coldest drinking water in the dugout!”

Everything went fine until the later innings, when he was handed a coat and told to take it to the pitcher. Dutifully, he took it and ran to the mound. The pitcher waved him off, so he ran back to the dugout. The dugout hollered to take it to the pitcher. The pitcher waved him off again.

Tears welled in his eyes, as it seemed everyone was yelling at him. Finally, the third base coach told him, “son, don’t give the coat to the pitcher on the mound; give it to the pitcher who is standing on first base.”

“It was not a great way to start my town team baseball career,” says Larson wryly.

Bookie gets his start

From the minute he entered high school in seventh grade, Larson was doing stats. For six years, he was student manager for the football, basketball and baseball teams at Dassel and then D-C High School.

Besides taping ankles, picking up towels, and chalking fields, Larson noticed that the coaches never seemed to have time to keep their statbook up-to-date. So he asked if he could take over, and to a man, they all said yes.

Thus, with a stack of scratch paper (calculators were prohibitively expensive), he was now doing sports statistics. It was not until his senior year in high school that his father bought a calculator – for $300.

“Being able to do averages with the touch of my fingers made me the happiest person,” said Larson.

FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE AT THE HERALD-JOURNAL WEBSITE, CLICK HERE

FOR BOOKIE’S WEBPAGE ON THE MINNESOTA AMATEUR BASEBALL HALL OF FAME WEBSITE, CLICK HERE 

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