"’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
Those familiar words are from the British poet Alfred Tennyson. Although Tennyson probably never saw a baseball game in his life, his words, or something similar, rang true Monday in Delano.
If you haven’t heard, the Hutchinson Huskies amateur baseball team played the Jordan Brewers Labor Day in the state championship. It was Hutch’s first time back in the state title game since 1955. Unfortunately, the Huskies lost 4-2 to take second place.
Monday night was probably a tough one for those Hutchinson players and fans. To come so close and fall short is a bitter pill to swallow. But if those players and fans are reading this column, remember this: ’Tis better to have played in the state final and lost than never to have played in the state final at all.
Those who know me know that I was a baseball player and manager for many years. I grew up playing ball in Marshall and then moved to Glencoe where I played for another 10 years. I even managed the team for four of those years.
In my 13 or so years of amateur baseball, my teams qualified for the state tournament twice but never made as far as the Huskies did this past weekend. They should be extremely proud of their accomplishment, despite the disappointment they likely felt.
The same is true of manager Mike Kutter. As I said, I spent a few years managing a town ball team and it is a difficult, thankless job. You have to really love your team and the time spent on the field with them, and he clearly does.
Finally, I also want to congratulate the Huskies on not only making it to the state final, but by doing it what I feel is the right way.
One of the great things about amateur baseball is how towns rally to support their home team, much like a high school team. Unfortunately, there are many teams that lose sight of the "town ball" aspect of amateur baseball in favor of winning. Recruiting players from nearby towns is quite common. While I believe it’s perfectly reasonable for teams to do some recruiting, especially teams in smaller towns, I’m not a fan of teams that have as many or more players from other towns than from their home town.
I think the Huskies are a terrific example of how a team can make it all the way to the state championship, and do so with its own homegrown players.
Besides its three draftee pitchers, Hutchinson’s state tournament roster was comprised of nothing but Hutchinson baseball players. That is something to be proud of, just as much as its second-place finish this past weekend.
Most out-of-towners I talk to tell me they know Hutchinson is a football town, and they know Hutchinson is the home of Lindsay Whalen. But I think it’s time Hutchinson’s baseball program receives the credit it deserves.