By Bruce Karnick [email protected] The snow has melted, and the Hastings Youth Athletic Association has held their tryouts, what does this mean? If you are a fan of baseball, that means one …
By Bruce Karnick
The snow has melted, and the Hastings Youth Athletic Association has held their tryouts, what does this mean? If you are a fan of baseball, that means one thing, you are excited! Raider baseball fans already know that high school baseball has their opening day on April 9th, one day after the Minnesota Twins open their season. Little League teams are soon to follow and the Hastings Hawks not too long after that! That is right folks, fans are now looking forward to the crack of the bat and the pop in the glove, baseball is in the air!
For those that do not know, the Hastings Hawks are a Class C amateur baseball team that is part of the Classic Cannon Valley League (CCVL) of the Minnesota Baseball Association (MBA). The MBA has 276 registered teams across the state of Minnesota in three different classes, A, B and C. Players range from fresh out of high school to seasoned veterans. Some have gone on to play in the majors and then returned to play town ball.
The CCVL consists of nine teams: Class C teams are Cannon Falls Bears, Hastings Hawks, Lake City Serpents, and the Red Wing Aces. Class B teams are Dundas Dukes, Hampton Cardinals, Miesville Mudhens, Northfield Knights, and the Rochester Royals. Class B and C are decided by a point system established by the MBA. Class A teams are all inside the 494/694 loop.
The Hawks call Veteran’s Park home and have helped the City of Hastings make improvements to the facility as well as maintain it. Volunteers get together each April to reset the field, cleaning up edges, weeds, leaves and other issues. On the clean up day, the Hawks try to pick one big project to complete. One year it was putting in dirt basepaths, another it was painting the buildings. Two seasons ago, Concrete Coatings of Hastings, owned by Greg Stier, donated a beautiful floor coating for the concessions stand and bathrooms. They made the building feel brand new again and it helped make cleaning much easier. A few years ago, they installed protective fence toppers and this year, they are hoping to put in a wind screen on the outfield fence.
During the season, key team and board members maintain the field for everyone to use. Between dragging the ‘dirt’, mowing the infield grass and other clean up duties, volunteers work about 10-20 hours a week on the field. With the exception of the dragging machine, the equipment has been purchased by funds raised from the concessions stand by the Hawks. Before and after each game, teams are expected to assist with some of the maintenance and chalking.
As mentioned, the Hawks also run the ‘Hawk’s Nest’ concessions stand. The concessions stand helps offset the team’s costs each year. Expenses such as team gear, baseballs, uniforms, hats, and umpires quickly add up. The average cost per season to run the team is over $6,000. Add any needed equipment, like a lawn mower or freezer and things get significantly more expensive quickly. Concessions are a huge part of what the Hawks do at all games. Quality stadium food at a reasonable price. The concessions stand is licensed with the State of Minnesota and inspected by the health department, so food safety rules are followed.
The team does get local sponsors to buy ads in the game day program and they are also partnered with the City of Hastings for selling fence signs at the park. The fence sign program is really affordable, and the signs add so much to the feel of the park. The signs themselves are made here in Hastings at Graphic Design. The funds go into an account dedicated to upgrades at the baseball field only, after the sign is paid for. The best part of the sign program is the work that is put in to keep the money here in Hastings.
Each normal year, there are around 100 events or games held on the baseball field in roughly a six-month span. The Hawks make up 15-20 percent of the use of the field. HYAA is most of the use from age 14 on up to VFW and Legion teams. The high school tries to schedule a few of their games to get the kids under the lights since Vets is the only full-sized baseball field with lights in town. Raider Nation holds their opening day ceremonies on the field, helping give the littlest of kids the feeling of being a major league player, and Little Raiders Football utilizes the outfield in the fall. Vet’s is a hopping place all summer long!
After last years goofy season where the Hawks played only six home games due to the pandemic, Manager Shawn Matson worked hard to schedule a normal season for his guys landing 15 home games of their 27-game season, plus one weekend tournament, but not including playoffs.
April 30th – 7:30pm vs Spring Valley May 2nd – 2:00pm @ Hampton May 9th – 2:00pm vs Northfield May 15th – 2:00pm vs Wannamingo May 21st – 7:30pm vs Dundas May 23rd – 7:30pm @ Miesville May 30th – 2:00pm @ Dundas May 31st – 2:00pm vs Rochester June 2nd – 7:30pm vs Eagan June 4th – 7:30pm @ Cannon Falls June 6th – 2:00pm vs Cannon Falls June 9th – 7:30pm @ Northfield June 13th – 2:00pm @ Lake City June 18th – June 20th Elrosa elite 8 tournament June 23rd – 7:30pm vs Baseball 365 June 25th – 7:30pm vs Hampton June 27th – 2:00pm vs Redwing July 2nd – 7:30pm vs Miesville July 4th – 6:00pm @ Rochester July 7th – 7:30pm vs Tri City Shark July 9th – 7:30pm @ River Falls July 11th – 2:00pm vs Lake City July 16th – 8:00pm vs Prescott July 18th – 2:00pm @ Redwing July 23rd – 7:30pm vs Mpls River Rats To learn more about the Hawks, visit www. hastingshawks.com. If you are not able to make it to a Hawks game, they do broadcast their games online via a free audio broadcast and HCTV has joined the fun with broadcasting some games live on Facebook.
If you would like to advertise with the Hawks or would like to donate, contact [email protected] com. The team is hoping to replace two major pieces of equipment soon, the scoreboard that is over 20 years old and a riding mower that is probably just as old.
Most importantly, get out and watch local baseball with local guys. The games are fun win or lose, you can get a low-cost dinner and support local folks doing what they love. There is music and games between innings, and you get to be outside. SEE YAAT VETS!