When someone mentions Fargo, it’s been my experience that they reference either the extremely cold winter climate or the Coen Brothers movie of the same name. Some people might find it hard to believe, but the residents of Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, her “twin” city just across the Red River in Minnesota, have a real life outside of these two stereotypical references. Though my wife, Lynn and I prefer to travel south for the winter, many North Dakotans enjoy winter and winter activities. Very few of us, however, use a wood chipper to grind up our neighbor.
In the region centered on Fargo, much of the emphasis on sports revolves around three schools; North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University at Moorhead and Concordia College. However, in 1996, a new professional baseball team based in Fargo-Moorhead joined the Northern League. Teams in this league are not affiliated with Major League Baseball (MLB) and serve markets that are not served by the MLB or their minor league affiliates.
Newman Outdoor Field is the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawk’s home turf. The team’s winning ways have drawn the crowds and the family friendly entertainment keeps the youngsters entertained. I will admit to not paying attention to the team in their early years. At some point, a chance invitation to attend a game taught me that there’s a lot more going on than just waiting for the 20-minutes of action that’s crammed into three-plus hours of a typical baseball game.
Between innings during pitcher warm-ups, games are played on the field that ultimately wins a prize for someone, and occasionally prizes (mostly discount coupons) for entire sections.
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks finished that first season with a league-best 53-31 won-lost record. Though they didn’t win the championship that year, losing to the St. Paul Saints, that season set the bar high for these boys of summer. Over the years, the team showed themselves to be winners with 2011 being the only season in their history with a losing record of 44-56. The loss resulted in their missing the playoffs for only the second time in their history.
Their mascot, Hawkeye, a 15-year veteran of the team and the players themselves make personal appearances in the off-season. Hawkeye energizes the fans during breaks in the game play. There is even a well-equipped playground at Newman Field for those younger fans who simply get tired of watching the game.
Ole, the “ball boy” entertains the crowd during home games. Ole’s original responsibility was to occupy a red rocking chair and make sure the plate umpire was supplied with baseballs. Since his introduction, though, Ole’s role has expanded. Ole wanders the stands while greeting and talking to the fans. Ole always draws a big round of applause when they play “Cotton Eyed Joe” and Ole does his signature dance.
I submit for your visual diversion, a gallery of images taken at Newman Field during a game between the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Click on one of the photos below to view an enlarged picture and scroll through the gallery.