The City of New Ulm City Council, in a special meeting July 24, voted 5-0 to not host the 2020 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament next month.
Citing rising cases of COVID-19 in Brown County, a previous 3-2 vote in favor was overturned by city council members. A year of work in getting Johnson and Mueller parks ready for the state tournament will have to wait for another year.
“The decision came down to the health of the community of New Ulm and the people that we have to live with the rest of our lives,” Al Flor, the Chairman of the 2020 State Tournament Committee in New Ulm, said to the New Ulm Journal.
“Those are people that we have to have around every day. It was a tough pill to swallow but it was the right thing to do,” he added.
Zach Hoffman, current Chanhassen Red Bird, grew up in New Ulm. His parents were on the New Ulm State Baseball committee. His brother, JT, a player for the New Ulm Brewers.
“I think the general consensus is probably the right call was made with the expectations thrown their way. I know they’ve had a hard time finding volunteers willing to wear masks all day. Being able to have only 250 people at the park at one time, it was going to be hard to make money as it was,” Hoffman said.
On Monday, a disappointed Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Board made a pivot, keeping third site Springfield as a host, adding the home field of the Milroy Yankees near Marshall as the secondary site for Class C.
Shakopee’s Joe Schleper Stadium is set to host the 16 Class B teams. Shakopee was co-hosts with New Prague in 2018. Chanhassen, the two-time defending Class B champions, beat Miesville twice on Labor Day to win the state title at the Shakopee field.
“We had heard that New Ulm might not be able to host this year, but we knew Springfield still wanted to. We only threw our name in the hat as a potential Class B tourney host since it’s a smaller undertaking we think we can handle this late in the game,” said Shakopee’s Gary Schleper, who also is a director with the MBA Board.
Hoffman believes the right call was made in spreading out the teams as well, keeping the Class B teams separate.
“We’re excited. It’s a 10-minute drive from Chanhassen versus a 2-hour drive to New Ulm,” Hoffman said.
Still, the thought of winning a third consecutive state tournament at a field Hoffman grew up on is something he was hoping for.
“That was something, me, Garrett Fischer, Aaron Pfaff is another New Ulm guy, have been talking about. We were excited to be down there for three weeks in August, show everyone around New Ulm. I think it would have been a really fun tournament. I know pre-COVID, they had some really awesome plans,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said the feeling among the New Ulm Baseball community is the MBA Board won’t give a future bid to Johnson and Mueller parks because of the overturned vote.
“I know everyone is disappointed. I think everyone down there just wants to be able to host again soon. No one is asking for the 100th year anniversary. They just want to be able to have the state tournament again soon. They want to be assured they will have a shot,” Hoffman said.
Over in Shakopee, with just weeks to prepare, Schleper said the community will come together to put another great tournament.
“We mostly need to tidy up the field. There’s more work to be done off the field than on it at this time to get ready,” Schleper said.