WASECA, Minn. - Plans are in the works to rebuild one of Minnesota's great baseball treasures.
Parts of Waseca's Tink Larson Field were reduced to ashes last April by a massive fire.
On Tuesday night, the city council approved bids to bring the ballpark back to life.
But to understand the significance of rebuilding Waseca's Tink Larson Field, you first have to realize what was taken away.
"All I saw was one great big red ball of fire," says local Hall of Fame baseball coach Tink Larson, for whom the field is named. "It was taking away a big part of Waseca in a flash. ... I thought, 'There's 50 years of effort and memories going up in flames. Never to be seen again.'"
A fire, which police believe was arson, took down Waseca's prized grandstand in a matter of minutes.
"There was no way, heck, the fire trucks could have been sitting here before the fire started, and they probably wouldn't have been able to save it," Larson said.
The wooden grandstand was built in 1938 as a Great Depression-era WPA project.
"It was kind of like one of a kind, because there weren't many of those types of grandstands left anyplace in the state anymore," Larson said.
Through the years, local baseball games in smaller towns like Waseca have served as community gatherings. The city's premier entertainment. And Waseca had one of the state's best venues.
So moving forward from the fire without rebuilding simply wasn't an option.
"The next thought was, 'How do we rebuild?'" said community member Duane Rathmann, who along with others, began a fundraising campaign.
Soon the Minnesota Twins wrote a $100,000 check.
The campaign also received big donations from the Vikings, the Super Bowl Host Committee, and many others who over the years attended baseball camps put on by Tink Larson.
"It's the community's field," Larson said. "It just has my name on it, is all."
And the community's field will soon have a new $2 million grandstand honoring the original, while becoming more accessible to the elderly and disabled.
It should be ready for baseball season next spring.
"It will be nice to see this whole area filled in with people and a nice beautiful grandstand," Larson said.
Baseball in Waseca is steeped in tradition.
"It gives you goosebumps to think of all the people who have been here before us," said Waseca Mayor Roy Srp.
And the community made sure many more will enjoy the game even after they're gone.
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