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Amateur baseball at its best

Green Grove baseball started in 1949. “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”.………Henry Ford

In the early years of baseball in the Melrose area, players were being recruited to play for other teams for a salary or other favors, so players often moved around the area. That’s the way it was at that time. The introduction of town baseball came about through much hard work and small town cooperation, as did other forms of recreation instituted by the hometown recreation clubs at that time. Entertainment was not as plentiful as it is today. The promoters were people who loved baseball and were willing to sacrifice their time and energy to help wherever they could. Things were accomplished through volunteer labor and time.  Once involved, they continued to be staunch fans that could be seen sitting behind the fence watching every game possible. Baseball was very popular in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s and became more so as the years went on. Coming Together… Green Grove history began in 1949. It came about through the work of Albert Kulzer and the Greenwald Recreation Club. Many interested baseball fans became involved, giving their strong support, and soon Albert Kulzer’s “wild idea” was on a roll. “He came to see me, and he had Gilbert Weisser with him,” said Al Luetmer, who was playing for the New Munich baseball team at the time. He continued, “Kulzer said he got this wild idea that they would like to start a baseball team in Greenwald. This, of course, was all in the thinking stage. First of all he wanted to find out how many players would join if they started a team. They had contacted the Lensings, John and Cletus, and they said they would.” The idea was for Luetmer to get the Meire Grove connection of players, which were all playing for different teams at that time. “I was not sure that I, myself, would want to do it because I really liked playing for New Munich,” he added. Al continued, “They gave me a sales pitch, and thinking the afternoon was pretty much shot and it was milking time, I said I would think about it and call him in the morning, but Albert Kulzer would have none of that. He said, ‘We’ll be back here tomorrow morning!’ and he left.” That night Luetmer thought about it and decided it wouldn’t be such a bad deal; it would be close to home. He called Melvin Meyer from Meire Grove yet that night, who was also playing for New Munich, and he agreed to join. Albert Kulzer planned to ask Werner and Elmer Schneider who were playing with Elrosa at that time. The next morning Albert Kulzer was back as promised. Al Luetmer reported his findings, and that’s how it started. Keeping Together was Progress… C.P. Winter, Albert Kulzer and Luetmer went to the league baseball meetings. “We didn’t know anything about meetings at that time,” admitted Luetmer, who didn’t get too involved, and Albert Kulzer actually got the team started. This was 1949. Games were played on the Greenwald baseball diamond for 10 years. The team was appropriately named Green Grove after the suggestion of Tony Imdieke, who was from Meire Grove and a member of the Greenwald Recreation Club.  Imdieke was a big fan and promoter of the baseball team. The Greenwald Recreation Club was going strong then and had already started a skating rink next to the diamond.  They took care of all the team’s bills and everything. The Greenwald diamond at that time was often too wet to play on, so some of the games were played at Albany under the lights. Albert Kulzer was a smart man and he became the team’s business manager. He also managed the team that first year in order to get things going. The next year Cel Uphoff became manager and he knew baseball inside and out. “I learned a lot of good baseball from Cel Uphoff,” said Luetmer. The Green Grove team had a very good record. They finished the first season with a respectful 8-6. Al Luetmer became a playing manager in 1952, and for the first game he managed he decided he wanted something special to start the season, so he came up with the idea to throw the first ball from an airplane. Neighbor and baseball fan, Albert Meyer, helped with the planning, while Al’s brother, Henry Luetmer and Pick Carlson, both pilots, accomplished the mission.         Carlson flew the plane, making one sweep across the park and then circled as Henry Luetmer dropped the ball, which landed in center field, much to the fan’s amazement and enjoyment. Working Together meant Success! The Green Grove baseball team entered the Central Stearns Class B Baseball League in 1954. In 1959, Meire Grove and Greenwald fielded their own teams, ending the Green Grove baseball era with a great record of 93 wins, 57 losses and a .620 percentage. Throughout the 10 years of the Green Grove team’s history, they provided many exciting and interesting moments for many, many fans. They were watched by the very young who grew up to become foul ball catchers dreaming of someday filling the shoes of the players they so admired. Mothers kept watchful eyes on their youngsters as stray balls landed behind the fence and into the stands and benches. The older town members and team members’ parents and grandparents were always faithful fans who sat directly behind home plate, calling each ball or strike for what it was – and complaining when the umpire did not agree! The smell of cigars and hamburgers frying permeated the grounds, as horns honked and crowds cheered. Oh, what good times were had. Walt Whitman had it right when he said: “I see great things in baseball.  It’s our game – the American game.  It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism.  Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set.  Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.”

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