As I was being interviewed by Blaze Fugina of the Echo Press at the Alexandria Blue Anchors game, G.G. Freitag brought Dick Radatz, President and Glen Showalter, VP of Operations for the Northwoods League over to meet me. They were in town to observe the Alexandria operation. All I could think about was that G.G. knew Public Relations. She invited me to feel important, I was loving it. Other teams have given me “Rock Star” treatment but this lady understood people, she got people excited, she connected people. For whatever reason, she intuitively knew what I “brought to the table”. I do have a wealth of knowledge about the fan experience just by being at so many venues and talking to all the people I have. I appreciated her excitement she had for me. Funny thing is she doesn’t know much about baseball but she knew that baseball is important to the community and wants to ensure that it continues to be.
I was impressed with the community before I even got to the game that night. Downtown Alexandria wasn’t boarded up but seemed to be thriving. The merchants adjusted and figured out what to do when Walmart and Target came into town. The town has great antique and collectible shops. I wandered around these as I was passing the time before the game. I spoke to an owner of one these shops, her name was Brooke. I feel bad but I don’t remember her shop name. She was very friendly, outgoing and took an interest in what I was doing. She even looked up my website while I was there. When I was leaving her shop Blaze called from the paper and asked if he could interview me. Brooke’s smile and Blaze’s demeanor invigorated me.
When I arrived at the game, I was standing in line talking to a gentleman when a lady with a big smile on her face approached. I looked behind me to see if she was smiling at someone. She wasn’t, it was directed at me. Then assumed it was this man’s wife. “Brooke told me you be coming”, G.G. said. I was floored! “Really” is all I could say, wow two women that want their community to flourish, no wonder the downtown is doing well. “What can I do for you?” she said and I was again struggling to respond. I was so impressed that people were interested and wanted to help me, they wanted my experience in Alexandra to be a good one. The whole place gave me a great vibe.
I talked with Dick and Glen for a little bit. I gave them my card, told them that if they want to “pick my brain” when I am done with this trip I would love to talk to them. I don’t know if they will; but, I was feeling confident. After finishing up my interview with Blaze, G.G. was back. She wanted me to meet a couple of the owners of the Blue Anchors, along with some of the people that work at the radio station. All I could think was that I wasn’t really that important, but this lady felt that I was, I went with it. I am “more of a novelty” is what I told her. She told me not to say that. I laughed to myself. She didn’t understand that I am living a dream life at the moment, having a great time on the road watching baseball everyday and blogging about this experience. I understand fully that I have gained knowledge that very few people have, very useful knowledge.
I talked with two of the owners of the team and we discussed some ideas, simple things that will work only if you are committed to them for a few years. I was impressed with these guys. They want to keep Northwoods baseball in Alexandria and they also understand it will never be a money maker, but is great for the community. They seem committed; however, they are finding out that it is a lot of work. I believe Alexandria has a gem of a stadium and can keep the charm of the ball park while doing some small things to improve the overall fan experience. I stressed to G.G., the owners and whoever would listen that getting a state of the art facility isn’t always the answer. It might work for a few years but eventually it comes down to creativity and the community.
G.G. introduced me to all the people from the local radio station that were at the game. I was invited to come by the station in the morning to do a show called “Open Line” from 9-10. I was feeling very good when I left the game. I got to the Walmart parking lot, set up my car and checked my email. Roger got me a one day Media Credential for the College World Series. I was floored and four of the eight teams left I have covered this year. I am excited to see them play. I sent Adam Winkler in Austin a text, and Larry, my high school classmate who covers a lot of these events. I wanted to find out what is appropriate. They responded quickly and gave me a few tips. I was so excited that it was hard for me to sleep. I called my brother, Chad, and we were laughing hard at all that was happening and how important I was feeling. But – there I was in a Walmart parking lot!
I got to the radio station in the morning was greeted by Joe, who I met the night before. He asked if I stayed in my car, I told him I did and he was intrigued. It really is not as bad as it sounds. Michael Right came out and invited me into the booth for a quick 5 minute summary of what I was doing. This was the first time I was on live radio. After that, Dennis Anhalt came out and asked me to record a segment on a show for Saturday or Sunday. I was on the “Open Line” show from 9:30 until 10. Also, The Governor of Minnesota was on with me. That was fun and interesting. Patty Wicken, one of the show’s hosts, gave me an extensive tour of Alexandria. I was impressed at what I saw. She wanted to make sure that I saw the real “Ole”. Brooke, G.G., and Patty impressed me. The three of them truly understand their town and what is needed.
As I was heading out of town after receiving such a warm welcome from the type of town that I was hoping to see all across America, my heart was filled with so much gratitude. These people have this great community that appears to be very strong and vibrant. They seem to understand that everyone needs to take an interest for it to continue to flourish. It is a community that understands what “community” means, it is Americana. I will be back!
Dennis Anhalt, the radio host, wanted to make sure that I went to see Paul Johnson in Brooten, Minnesota at Max Bats after I was done in Alexandria. He told me I would be impressed. I heard this last night also from the owners of the Blue Anchors after I was telling them that they should teach these players how to hold the bat correctly. I did go to see Paul and had a great discussion about this topic. He treated me like a V.I.P. He continued my education on wooden baseball bats and all the politics that go into producing them at the Major League level. I was impressed at his operation and his humility. I will definitely be promoting his products to everyone I see. After I left and arrived in Zimmerman, Minnesota, I checked my email. Paul made a donation to me for this journey. I continue to be humbled by everyone’s generosity, I will spend it wisely!
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