Submitted by Frank Hanford, Minnesota Bandits manager (In his words)
When the Minnesota Bandits take the field in the 36th MSBL World Series it will be “same old, same old”. Same Lee Backhaus, assessor/long time Legion coach from Alexandria, MN will be at third, same Bob Heiderscheit, SR. VP of Information Technology from Onalaska, WI at short, played at Winona Saint Mary’s, same second baseman, Chuck Sendlebach, owned and operated the local drug store in home town Pipestone, MN after playing and coaching at SDSU. Same Bob Britz at first, from Jordan, MN, a retired 20-year coach who played at St Cloud State and has been a 46-year participant in the Birkebeiner ski race. Alexandria native Roger Johnson, a retired educator/coach still referees and still catches. And, Gary Fritch, a retired CPA/world fisherman/hockey player from Lake Nebagamon, WI. will pitch. Gary’s brother is part owner of the Nashville Predators hockey team. That lineup took the field together for the first time in 2016 and will again this year for the 8th consecutive year.
The team organized as a 60+ team in 2014. And, with most players having a Florida history, did not play MSBL until Jim Dyvig brought the Bandits here in 2019. Longevity, continuity and comradery are three reasons for the Bandits competitiveness. It helps to have a little talent too. However, no matter your talent, you must be good in the dugout or you’ll never make the field. Find your players, keep your players and add if you need, but to the dugout first.
The Bandits are really no different than any other team, but fortunate in that the core group has remained large. Also, still with the team from 2014 are pitchers Brock Kiecker and Randy Moselle, outfielders Chuck Stott, Rick Held, and Bob Thaden and infielders Neil Sather and Reese Doffing. That’s thirteen of the original seventeen players from 2014, still together, having won more rings than fingers to put them on.
MSBL legends Berry’s and the LA Athletics can tell similar stories. The biggest difference between the Bandits and them, they’ve won more championships. AND, for seven months, we shovel snow, plow snow, drive in snow, ski in snow, hunt in snow, snowmobile, chip ice, skate on ice and fish through the ice. When spring comes, players sprint to their local town ball teams as the baseball window is not open long. Most of our players play for towns so small they’re not on the map. And, if they’re on the map, chances are you can’t pronounce them; West Bend, Rice Lake, Ft Ripley, Beaver Dam, Red Wing, Oconomowoc, Wauwatosa.
There’s an old baseball saying. When the dust is cleared from the field, the laughter has left the dugout and cobwebs share the trophy case, the fondest memories you have will be of the people you shared your dugout with. Longevity, continuity, comradery. Enjoy and be thankful.