By Nick Gerhardt
Dassel’s ballpark has got a reputation as one of the best in the state and once again it’ll get showcased as a state tournament site for the 2019 tourney.
Dassel will serve as the third site with co-hosts Delano and Maple Lake after it hosted with Litchfield and Hutchinson back in 2016.
Don’t expect a ton of changes to the park itself but when games return to the field it’ll be on new grass. The Saints redid the entire field this fall after dealing with turf issues in previous years.
“We had patches of dead grass in August,” said Dassel’s field guru Cole Flick. “I noticed it when we hosted the state tournament in ‘16. I went into a panic at that state tournament and thought the grass was dying everywhere. The last two or three summers, those patches of brown kept going further and further. One day I took a sample of it and sent it to the head of turf grass at Iowa State. He said that it’s a rough bluegrass and during the hottest part of the summer it’s going to die. Your best bet is to kill the whole field.”
That’s what Flick and the Saints did. The team also decided to laser-level the whole field, which dates to 1901, at the same time as they planted a 50-50 blend of rye and bluegrass for new turf.
It didn’t take long to see the grass start sprouting — just six days, Flick said. Though it was tough to make the call to re-do the turf, Flick said.
“For the most part we’ve had a pretty decent field,” he said. “It always played nice and had thick grass. That was a hard decision to do.”
Flick, who played for the Saints for 16 years, has become known for his intricate mowing patterns on that turf in recent years so it’s easy to see why replacing the turf was a tough decision.
Flick came away impressed with the leveling work, too. He noted that 300 yards of dirt was removed from an area of the field and only replaced with 40 yards. All told, the team kicked in $30,000 for the turf project.
This will be the third time that Dassel has hosted state tournament play and fans will be treated to one of the finest ballpark experiences in the state. The team took on several projects prior to the 2016 state tournament to enhance fan experience. The Saints upgraded seating and concessions. The additional seating became a deck and patio along the third-base line and a set of bleachers for the visiting fans. Flick said the team has looked into adding another deck along the first-base side, though that project wouldn’t come prior to this year’s state tournament.
Dassel-Cokato rebuilt its outfield fence in advance of the 2016 state tournament while also adding concrete walkways and planting grass outside the field along the first-base line.
The Saints also installed additional drainage tile and Flick said the difference became noticeable quickly because it increased the number of games that could get played on the field, rather than having to wait for the water to subside.