Athletic Park - Welcome Sign

Chaska drew 24,161 fans to the 1955 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament and more than 33,000 spectators in 1988 and 1998 with co-host Hamburg. The goal is set anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 for the next three weekends.

I’ve had the good fortune to grow up in Chaska and call it my home. There are so many life experiences that go into forming one’s values and belief system, starting with your parents and family.

This is not some attempt to go through my life to discuss in detail what influenced me, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few key things about growing up in Chaska.

It possessed a small-town sense of community. Building community was done in many ways, a few of which were going to City Square for band concerts; experiencing a vibrant downtown; our good education system; and active and strong faith communities and service organizations.

People cared and valued this sense of togetherness and community. People gathered together and enjoyed each other’s company. Our schools, arts and athletics brought people together. We celebrated and cheered for our community, and in doing all these things and more, community was being built.

As Chaska grew, it emphasized a strong commitment to retaining and building that sense of community. That requires thought and planning as that priority is set, and then actions developed to support that goal.

It’s why the Chaska Community Center was built — to bring people together of all ages and interests. It’s why flood control was done — to preserve and ensure a long-term healthy future for downtown. It’s why our education system was invested in — to ensure quality education was provided. It’s why industry and jobs were brought in — to build community, so we wouldn’t be a bedroom community.

We saw this community spirit in recent years at Chaska High School as the football team and girls basketball team won state championships. The support of our town built community, and we are a stronger community because of the experience of coming together for a shared goal.

That’s pretty powerful, and this list could go on and on, because there are so many factors that go into building a city’s sense of community. It’s important, because most people want to live in a community where they know their neighbors and their neighbors know them and they care about each other.

TOWN BALL

And this brings us to an upcoming opportunity to see the building of community at work, and to be part of that experience.

Town ball — amateur baseball — has been a huge part of Chaska history and heritage. Chaska Cubs Baseball is celebrating its 93rd year of existence this year.

There are many levels of amateur baseball — the youth baseball association, Legion baseball, VFW baseball and over-35 baseball.

However, what I want to draw attention to today is Minnesota Amateur Baseball and its annual State Amateur Championship Tournament. This year that tournament is co-hosted by Chaska and Waconia, with a third site being Hamburg. It’s held over three weekends, playing over the last two weekends of August and ending on Labor Day.

If you are not familiar with amateur baseball and Chaska Cubs baseball, come down to downtown Chaska’s Athletic Park, a historic small-town baseball park built in 1950. It’s unique and special in many ways. There truly is something for every age level, and it’s fun for everyone.

Chaska guys play for the love of the game on a great field in front of a growing and supportive fan base. What this is doing is building community! The heritage of Chaska Cubs baseball is rich in stories and honored by all those who competed and enjoyed playing.

So as we talk about the many ways to build community, watching town ball games, bringing your family and having fun and meeting others that are there for the same reason is all about building community. This is not about entertainment for a few players, this is about playing for your town, building the pride of your town and building that spirit of community that comes with cheering and supporting your team.

Come down to the park and attend one of the state tournament games and if it’s one Chaska is playing in, that would be special. But even if its not, you will have a great time and enjoy the town ball experience that is growing like mad.

Be part of that experience and, if this may interest you, check out www.chaskacubs.com or the state tournament website at www.wch2021.com.

We’ll see you at the ballpark and join us in building community!

Bob Roepke is a former Chaska mayor and a Chaska Cubs volunteer.

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