Since the selection of Maple Lake and Delano in 2010, a committee guided by the Maple Lake Lakers has been preparing for the 2013 tournament, raising funds and coordinating volunteer efforts to improve Irish Stadium.
Completed is a new 3’ knee-wall behind home plate, dugout extensions and new interior benches, a new 12’x16’ storage shed, new bulbs and light fixtures, and bullpen upgrades.
Upcoming improvements include a new knee-wall to replace the chain-link fencing down the first and third base lines, new 4’ chain-line fencing to be installed down the left and right field out-of-play lines, new concrete to complete the dugout extensions, fan decks to be built and installed down the first base line and in between the grandstand and the third base dugout, new asphalt to be poured in extended areas along with resurfacing of the existing asphalt, spray painting of park fencing, a new sign for the park entrance, new batting cages, refurbishing of the scoreboard, and improvements to the fan seating in the grandstand and down both foul lines.
Amateur baseball began in Maple Lake around 1885, even before the city itself was officially incorporated in 1890. In 1900, the village council bought a plat of land from James Madigan for $1,000 that remains today as the city park. The Lakers played there until 1950, when Irish Stadium opened. The team won state championships in 1931 and 1939, with many state appearances and league titles. But in 1966, a lack of leadership caused the team to disband. In 1975, Maple Lake High School teacher and coach Gary Porter brought the Lakers back to life and led them to numerous league titles and state appearances before he retired in 2003. In 2008, Manager Dale Decker took
the Lakers back to the state tournament and a third-place finish. And in 2011, Chad Raiche, the current player/manager of the Lakers, took the team to another state appearance.
State appearances through the history of the Lakers are as follows: 1925, 1931 B Champ, 1932, 1933, 1934 A 3rd place, 1936 AA 2nd place, 1939 A Champ, 1947, 1958, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1994 B 3rd place, 1995, 2008 B 3rd place, 2011.
Maple Lake still holds a state tournament record for the most runs scored in one inning by one team when the 1989 Lakers set the record of 14 runs in one inning during what was still a close 19-17 win over Hutchinson.
Maple Lake also came out on the short end of a state tournament hallmark when Chaska recorded a no-hitter in a 1-0 defeat of the 1947 Lakers.
And the team and its fans won an honor in 2008 when they were awarded the J. M. Brennan Sportsmanship Trophy that has been presented to one community since 1941 for sportsmanship shown during the state tournament.
Chad Raiche and Marcus Zahn are serving as the Lakers’ 2013 State Tournament coordinators.
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