The inspiring story of how a town came together to save their ballpark.

1 2 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Emergency repairs were required after the wood grandstand showed structural concerns. KARE

KARE 11's Boyd Huppert brings us the story of a town that came together to save its ballpark.

JORDAN, Minn. - People spend entire lives searching for perfection, but on a pitcher's mound in Jordan, Brent Goracke finds it every night.

"We call this the Magic," says Goracke as he painstakingly grooms the mound. "It almost brings tears to your eye."

He nods and says simply, "It is perfect." Remember that word. It comes up often at the ballpark known as the "Mini Met."

"It's a perfect night, perfect weather," says Chelsea Ugland, as if on cue. She reaches through her car window to pay her $3 admission.

Blankets are spread on a grassy hillside along the third base line, just beneath the row of lawn chairs already in place.

Jason Allen takes it all in from the broadcast booth. "I still say it's the best park in Minnesota," says the Jordan Brewers' volunteer announcer.

The "Mini Met" started life roughly a century ago as a grandstand on, what was at the time, the Scott County Fairgrounds -- a place for musical acts to perform and livestock to be reviewed.

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

The baseball field was added in the 1930s, impressive enough by the 1960s that a visiting newspaperman compared Jordan's little park to the Minnesota Twins' Metropolitan Stadium. The "Mini Met" moniker was born.

The Twins are on their third stadium since then. Jordan got it right the first time.

"It's down to earth, good old ball," says Gary Frey, parked in one of those lawn chairs above third base. "This is what hometown baseball is all about."

Allen keys the mike on the public address system. "Make sure you stop up at the concession stand. Say hello to Joe when you're up there," the hollow speakers blare.

Joe Bares, like everyone else who keeps the place ticking, is a volunteer.

"It's almost like a church here for some people," he says, dispensing hot dogs, soda and $2 beers.

A young boy runs up with a foul ball he's snagged. It'll be good for his choice from the candy selection. The ball will return to play.

"It's what Jordan is known for," says Mike Beckius, a Brewers' player. "When you come here and play on this field it's almost like you've made it to another level."

Perfect -- until the day last spring they found out it wasn't.

An inspection ordered by the city showed rotting in the wooden grandstand, serious enough to raise red flags.

"It was structurally unfit to be inhabited by fans," says John Breimhorst, a longtime volunteer.

Everyone knows the fate of old structures in a throw-away society. John Breunig, another volunteer, worried how some might respond. "What the hell would you want to keep that up for, let's just knock it down."

But with the state high school baseball tournament scheduled to be played at the "Mini Met" in a matter of weeks, the Jordan City Council acted swiftly, approving the funds to fix up the old grandstand.

"It was an emergency thing we had to do to get baseball played in Jordan this summer," said Tom Nikunen, Jordan's acting city administrator.

Not even a discussion of tearing down the wooden stands and replacing them with modern steel or aluminum? Not much.

"It would take away all the nostalgia of this facility," said Breimhorst, throwing up his hands. "This is the way it needed to be."

It's the same reason the "Mini Met" still relies on volunteers in the outfield to change the numbers on the scoreboard. Just the way it needs to be.

The reinforcement of the grandstand came in under budget. The city spent roughly $83,000 on the job, including new wood supports and a coat of "Met Green" paint.

"It's beautiful," proclaims 86-year-old Jack Roberts as he looks out over the ballpark. "There's a reason other teams like to come and play at the "Mini Met.'"

Jordan's class C baseball team could still place its emphasis on class.

"This is a true baseball facility in a true baseball town," says Breimhorst.

Paul Buss cannot disagree. "I've been all over the state playing ball and this is definitely the best park," says the Jordan native who has played with the Brewers since 1981.

Buss, who grew up near the "Mini Met," is no different than the crop of Jordan youngsters coming up today.

"All the little kids in town, you know, they start out in T-ball with the dreams of someday playing on this field," says Randy Breeggemann as he helps out in the press box.

A perfect game in baseball is a victory in which no opposing player reaches base. A perfect game in Jordan, is any night baseball is being played at the "Mini Met."

1 2 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wbir.com/1mhIoXX