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Baseball: Some hometown help

The Red Wing coaching staff meets before practice Friday at Prairie Island Arena. Paul Hartmann (middle) joins co-head coach Jim Bohmbach (right) and assistant coach Josh Nelson (left) on the Wingers' coaching staff. Photo by Chris Harrell

A native son returns to Red Wing.

Paul Hartmann, a 1997 graduate of Red Wing High School, was a bat boy for the Red Wing Aces 30 years ago. Now, Hartmann is back as a co-head coach with Jim Bohmbach for the Wingers' baseball team and it's as though he never left.

"A teaching job opened up and Jim and I have known each other for 30 years, since I was 5," Hartmann said. "I was a bat boy and my dad played here. When a teaching job opened up, I think both of us felt like it was meant to be, we were supposed to work together. I really feel like I'm supposed to be back in Red Wing."

Red Wing graduated 12 players from last year's Class 3A consolation championship, but Hartmann left the position as head coach for the Hastings baseball team he held the past six years to help the Wingers stay the course.

"We've played the same type of baseball, pretty much coached the same thing, I don't think there's anything we've disagreed on how we should do it," Bohmbach said. "We played together; I coached while (he) played. We've been around the game together. I think we're really on the same page."

Hartmann was a standout baseball and basketball player for Red Wing while in high school and continued his baseball career as a catcher for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

"What a great experience, one of the best schools out there and a great baseball program," Bohmbach said of the Gophers. "(Hartmann) just brings a whole ton of that experience with him. He knows what it takes to be a Division I player so that's just a great experience right there."

Hartmann played 17 games for Minnesota from 1998-2000, with the Gophers winning the Big Ten tournament in 1998 and the regular season conference title in 2000. Hartmann hit .375 with three extra-base hits and five RBI in his career with the Gophers.

"I was fortunate enough to be on a couple of Big Ten championship teams; a lot of times watching more than playing, but I learned a lot," Hartmann said.

After playing for Minnesota, he joined the Hastings school district as a teacher and coach. He continued to live in Red Wing as he became the Raiders' head coach six years ago and played amateur baseball for the Red Wing Aces.

The Aces' co-manager and pitcher Andy Gibart had nothing but high praise for his former teammate as he joins the Wingers' staff.

"I think it's a good fit for a few different reasons," Gibart said. "There's always an intensity about Paul and there's also a God-given leadership about Paul. He was a manager on the field and he knew what he was doing. It's great to have a guy that loves Red Wing baseball and Red Wing sports back and now he's actually a coach. That's what the high school team is going to get, a guy who knows situations."

Hartmann played 14 seasons for the Aces, leading the team with a .393 batting average in 2003, tallying eight doubles and 29 RBI. Bohmbach was the Aces' manager when Hartmann started playing for the team.

Gibart joked that Hartmann's competitiveness showed through the way he approached opposing teams.

"Throughout his Aces' career, he was known as almost the 'Hartmann glare,'" Gibart said. "Teams would try to steal on him and he would turn and stare at the opponent's dugout because no one could run on him and he could back it up."

Known for his passion during his playing days, Hartmann is easy-going off the field and Red Wing is fortunate to have him back, Gibart said.

"There's the intensity of Paul in terms of athletics but there's a certain attitude that Paul has just living life," Gibart said. "He's such a kind-hearted guy. He's always looking for the best. He's the ultimate competitor, but also in life. He wants the best for everyone, outside of the baseball field and the basketball court. He's the kind of guy you want contributing in the town of Red Wing."

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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