Chaska Athletic Park has great significance to both me, personally, and to Town Ball Tuesdays, as an institution. For myself, it was the first really wonderful park I had a chance to play in after returning to baseball following a decade-long hiatus. I was 27, had just picked up with a bush league team out of Chanhassen, and we had an opportunity to play up an exhibition game with the Chaska Diamonds 35+ team that summer. Taking the field that night, in that lovely stadium, with its freshly-trimmed grass and neatly raked infield was a special moment that breathed new life into my love for the game that I’d prematurely walked away from as a player. Several years later, it would become the informal birthplace of Town Ball Tuesdays, when I brought Marty out to give him a little taste of Minnesota amateur ball. We’d gone to a few Northwoods League games, and he’d started to develop a newfound appreciation for baseball, but our first trip to Chaska inspired the weekly trips to town parks that would later become TBT.
August 12th, 2016 was a rainy day. Grey, cloudy skies hovered over much of the state throughout the afternoon, soaking us with relentless drizzle. Though the precipitation had let up early in the evening, the accumulation of water and possibility of continued rain threatened to ruin a Friday night Marty had taken off to catch a ballgame. In the end, notice was put out that the Cubs’ deciding game in their best-of-five playoff series with suddenly plucky Victoria would indeed be played (with a slight delay), and we loaded up for a return trip to Chaska.
The awning above Chaska Athletic Park’s concession stand boasts “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” and the folks in Chaska make every effort to live up to that promise. The park feels every bit as classic as it should, having opened in 1950 and claiming the first electronic scoreboard in the state. It’s a storied home to a storied franchise, the Cubs being one of the most consistently successful clubs in Minnesota amateur baseball since their 1928 debut season.
Chaska’s grandstand is one of the most fan-friendly in the state. The deep wooden bleachers can accommodate hundreds of seated fans on their own, and provide plenty of space for portable folding chairs for those who come better prepared. The roof and protective netting are tall and the pillars are generously spaced, allowing for great views of the entire field. The grandstand also features some great barstool and rail seats, giving fans a view over the first base dugout, along with a place to rest their drink. Lawnchairs and a deck area beyond the dugout give fans an up-close look at the action, so long as they’re willing to risk the threat of foul balls. Full bathrooms are provided within the guts of the concrete grandstand, and the concession area provides cold beer and hot food with an unobstructed view of home plate.
As the swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes and, eventually, a sinister layer of fog crept into the park that night, the Cubs and Vics slugged it out in a seesaw battle that would end with Chaska claiming a 13-12 victory and berth in the Class B State Tournament.
Chaska’s Athletic Park is yet another jewel of Minnesota Baseball, just a short drive from the city. We always look forward to our next visit.
Photo gallery available here.