--by Walt Sauerbrei, Aitkin Age.com
Next summer, town team baseball will return to Aitkin. Jeremy Janzen and Austin Krohn are leading the effort to bring amateur baseball back, using the name, “Aitkin Steam.” It is a call back to the founding days of Aitkin when the Northern Pacific Railroad’s steam engines rolled through town and steam-engine riverboats were used extensively in logging industries.
Amateur baseball was popular through the 1990s with the Aitkin Stag, but since the early 2000s there has not been a town team in Aitkin.
According to Janzen and Krohn, the mission of Aitkin Steam is, “To continue to build upon and expand the great tradition of baseball in Aitkin. We will put competitors on the field that our community can be proud of, who respect each other as teammates, who play the game hard, and who bring fun to the baseball field. We want to create a Sunday afternoon atmosphere in our own backyard that draws our community together; an atmosphere filled with the sweet aroma of fresh brats on the grill, the crisp sounds of wood bats striking the ball, the joyous laughter of kids being kids, and the uplifting cheers from our loyal fans as we take on our surrounding communities. We have a lot of local pride in our rural Minnesota town, and it is time to get our Aitkin guys back home to play town ball for their own community.”
There are 216 Class C teams in Minnesota. The Aitkin Steam will join the Victory League North Division, Region 8C. The Victory League has four divisions with five teams in each division.
1. North: Aitkin, Cuyuna, Fort Ripley, Nisswa, St. Mathias
2. South: Avon, Freeport, Holdingford, St. Stephen, St. Wendel
3. East: Buckman, Royalton, Lastrup, Pierz Brewers, Pierz Bulldogs
4. West: Flensberg, Sobieski, Randal, Upsula, Opole
The season lasts from April 19-July 12; approximately 15-20 games are played. Local rule states that a player must have completed the junior year in high school. There is no upper age limit. Competition will be made up of mostly 18-35 year olds with the majority of players in their 20s. Questions about participation should be directed to Janzen or Krohn.