By Nick Gerhardt
After 13 years of amateur baseball JE Urseth ended up doing a little bit of everything in Class A baseball but this spring he won’t be trotting onto the field or maintaining several social media accounts.
The wear and tear of playing ball finally wore Urseth down to the point where he didn’t think he could compete any longer. Urseth, who pitched for the Minneapolis Cobras and served as the commissioner of the Minneapolis Park National League, said his knee has become too tough to play on anymore. He’s had three surgeries on it and is scheduled for another one in the coming years.
“I’m happy with the way it’s gone,” Urseth said. “I’ve got to pass the torch. If I could still play I’d do it.”
Urseth started out playing catcher but later moved to pitcher after his knee issues started to flare up. He played collegiately at Augsburg College and got his start in amatuer ball at 19 with Maple Grove in the Riverview League.
“I thought what did I get myself into?” Urseth said. “I was a boy amongst men.”
He went on to play for the Metro Merchants for a year before moving to the Richtown Bombers. Just two years into playing amateur ball, he began managing the Bombers. It provided him a lesson that still sticks with him and likely helped him later as he took on more responsibilities with Class A baseball.
The Bombers were the youngest team in the league at that time and the team only lasted two years. The team folded after several players found a spot with different teams.
“Losing the Bombers killed me inside,” Urseth said. “The last thing I wanted was to see a team fold. It was a hard introduction to what 300 managers face.”
Urseth landed with the Cobras and became the worker bee behind the scenes running everything from the team’s website, Twitter account, making hotel arrangements, scheduling and writing game recaps for the team’s website.
A year after joining the Cobras, Urseth grabbed a spot on the PNL board as the league’s secretary. In 2013, he later took over as the commissioner for the league but got some exceptional help from Lyon Pub’s Rob Schildgen and Minneapolis Angels’ Jay Asmus.
“Those guys have kept me sane,” Urseth said. “We delegate pretty well.”
On the field, Urseth has been an innings-eater and helped the Cobras achieve their best season, a second-place finish in 2013 to St. Paul Shamrocks in a 4-3 championship game.
Urseth and St. Paul/Riverview Commissioner Andre Lanoue worked together to get the Class A state tournament organized for the past several seasons by getting the fields booked and making sure booklets, T-shirts and the brackets get updated.
“JE is going to be missed,” said Lanoue, the St. Paul League commissioner. “He did an awesome job. He left Class A in better shape than when started.”
The amount of money needed to play each season at Parade Stadium has meant that teams in the PNL need to fill their schedules with games away from the park. A bulk of those games come at tournaments around the state. It’s some of those experiences, like camping out in Quamba or going down to Elko New Market or out to Cold Spring that Urseth cherishes especially. Playing games was fun but often it was the camaraderie after the games and shooting the breeze with opponents that really made the whole weekend fun.
Paul Melchior will take over as the Park National League commissioner this season.