By Nick Gerhardt
As far as bucolic baseball settings go, there’s nothing better.
But how did Green Isle’s picturesque old-time scoreboard become the treasure it is today? Naturally, it takes community support from the town of 559 people in Sibley County, just west of the metro to maintain a scoreboard that looks like the Boston Red Sox’s scoreboard at Fenway Park.
The plywood manual scoreboard has stood at the Green Isle park known simply as “The Yard” since the middle of the 1980s when Jim O’Brien, a Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame member from Arlington, donated it to Green Isle. At that time Arlington Concrete Products built several scoreboards and one made its way to the Arlington park and another went to Green Isle. Arlington’s scoreboard eventually landed in Carver after it got an electronic scoreboard, according to Joe Kreger, former Green Isle manager and Minnesota Baseball Association board member. The only remaining one sits in left field at Green Isle and it’s not going anywhere.
The scoreboard as served as an attraction in Green Isle and an introduction to baseball for youth.
Matt Breyer is one of those kids who grew up around the park and running the scoreboard. He started as a batboy with Green Isle when his father played and later he’d run out there as a player/coach to add the hits, runs and errors to the board every half inning.
“It’s a treasure,” Breyer said. “It’s something we take a lot of pride in. You look at a piece like that and it says tradition, which is what we’re all about.”
It also happens to be one of the best seats to watch a game at The Yard. A platform allows kids and adults to hang the signs and watch the game.
Repurposed stoplights from the highway department indicate the count at the plate and the number of outs. Believe or not, those lights are just regular light bulbs to show the count.
It might surprise some but the green and gold scoreboard didn’t always don the colors of the Irish. In fact, it didn’t get painted those colors until nearly two decades after it appeared in left field.
The park got shut down for two years beginning in 2000 as the city of Green Isle replaced a sewer line that ran through right field and it was around that time the club made improvements to the scoreboard. It got painted green and gold, and later letters were created for the scoreboard by players to prepare for all the teams coming for the 2008 state tournament. Scorekeepers can spell out everything from Ada to Young America.
Scorekeeping duties have become a rite of passage for Green Isle youth through the years and have helped make baseball extra special for the youngsters.
“A lot of fingerprints are all over that scoreboard,” said Breyer, whose three children have worked the scoreboard. “It’s a big deal for the kids. It’s also a little gathering spot. Two will be playing catch and two will be up there. It’s a great place for them to go.”
“I think a lot of times, their first time at the park, they’ll come up and ask if they can do the scoreboard,” Kreger added.
Even for those who don’t get a chance to run the scoreboard, its sight at “The Yard” makes a game in Green Isle an enchanting time.
“Hopefully it can stay forever,” Breyer said.
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