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Pipers to debut in over-35 league

Onlookers would be right to expect to see a little bit of rusty play from time to time when cheering on the Rosemount Pipers this season.

After all, about half of the team's 22-player roster hasn't played baseball in over a decade. The Pipers, who will feature six former Rosemount High School players and nine players who currently live in Rosemount, will play between 20 and 25 games in their inaugural season in the 35-and-over North Star Classic Baseball League this year.

Rosemount residents Ken Fry and Greg Sell decided to form their own team after playing on other North Star squads in previous seasons. The pair will serve as co-managers.

"We realized we had several other buddies and family who wanted to get back into it and we did the math and we had more than enough to start our own team," Fry said. "A lot of the guys are getting back into the game that haven't played since high school or college. A lot of the guys played in college and one even got drafted, so a lot of the guys have a passion for the game."

Fry and a few other players began preparing for the season by taking batting practice at the Dakota County Technical College complex over the winter. Additional players began coming out of the woodwork for the chance to practice with the team and by the end of a half-dozen or so workouts the roster had jumped to 22.

"That is how a lot of these guys know they're interested in getting back into it. We invited them to take some swings and throw the ball around and they realized they can still do it," Fry said. "Now everyone is just really excited for the summer."

Fry said a lot of the players are looking forward to the competition after years of playing slow-pitch softball or not playing at all due to family commitments.

"It's a different type of challenge. It's played with wood bats just like any other amateur league. Softball can be very competitive, but with the equipment available everyone is going to hit the ball. It's baseball no matter how you cut it, and getting a hit one out of three at bats is considered good," Fry said. "We have a great group of guys that has fun hanging out together. Most of us have kids and are married and hopefully our families will come out and enjoy seeing their dads play ball."

The Pipers open the season with a doubleheader May 4 at Burnsville. Their home opener is at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 11, against the Minnetonka Saints at Dakota County Technical College. It's the first of a three-game homestand that also includes games on May 17 and 19.

Former Irish on the Pipers' roster are Bobby Downs ('94), Jesse Riebel ('96), Dan Hegberg ('96), Tom Laughlin ('96), Dale Stapf ('96) and Scott Manwarren ('92).