Baseball: Ath ready to keep score once again
If there is one thing that Paul Hartmann and Corey Tauer have in common, it is the pride they take in Red Wing baseball. From young kids through the high school and Legion teams to the Aces, Hartmann and Tauer will seemingly do anything in their power to promote the game.
On Tuesday, their latest effort will glow into the night.
After months of planning and fundraising, the Red Wing Athletic Field will see its new scoreboard light up for the first time when the Wingers host Rochester Century at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The first step was taken by Tauer and his family after the death of his mother, Diane Tauer Pumarlo.
“My mom passed last May, and we were thinking about different memorials. And we were looking for something in town, some kind of symbolization,” Tauer said. “And that's how it came about. We were due for a scoreboard, the old one was put up in 1990. And as a family we wanted a local organization, and Mom loved going to The Ath.”
Tauer said his mother was a mainstay at the field, encouraging generations of players while her first husband coached. And with that personal connection, Tauer wanted to channel the family game into years of Red Wing baseball.
“When I get things going, people who know me know that I want to do it right,” Tauer said. “The Ath, I wanted to rejuvenate it. Baseball has taken kind of a hit from an interest perspective. And I want to generate excitement not just with the Wingers, but the Aces and the Legion. I want to get kids wanting to play baseball.”
Hartmann, the head coach of the high school squad, immediately pointed out Tauer when talking about how the process progressed.
“It starts with those involved like Corey Tauer and the Aces’ board of directors, the youth association, they want to do something. And they want to do it right and do it big,” Hartmann said. “And after talking to the city and the specs we got in February, we decided to make it bigger. And we're glad we did. We added the pitch count kind of late because the funding was going well. And a lot of credit goes to Corey for seeking out corporate sponsors and Nevco, who has some boards in the area. And they were outstanding.”
In addition to the Tauer family donation, Red Wing Shoe Foundation, St. James Hotel, Merchants Bank and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota signed up as corporate sponsors and will be advertised on the scoreboard. The final push for the $100,000-plus project came from a GoFundMe campaign, which asked for $6,000 in public donations and closed at $7,001. And while many GoFundMe accounts feature small amounts of $5 and $10, the scoreboard push was paced by donations in the $50-100 range, with several exceeding that. Hartmann said he recalled a couple in the “$500 range.”
What The Ath will now feature is a 21-by-36-foot board with a 4-by-10 LED message center. And that's all in addition to the at bat, ball, strike, out, hit, error, team names, 10 inning frames, runs, hits, errors and, of course, the new pitch count feature.
And while the new scoreboard is the face of the field, Hartmann and Tauer are hoping it's just one part of a new future. A new backstop is coming this fall, but the plans are for much bigger things.
“We've talked about potentially hosting a youth state tournament, and with three lighted fields that's an option,” Hartmann said. “And with how the city takes care of everything, the board, the youth fields, the main field, it's a point of pride. It's a home away from home. People come and go, but you know when you come to Red Wing, there's a baseball game going on.”