Baseball in Hamburg - A Legend in the Making
Upon entering Hamburg, you immediately notice ten giant towers hovering over the city like a flying saucer in a
science fiction movie. Upon further investigation, you observe that those towers illuminate one of the best and
most ultra-modern baseball facilities in the State of Minnesota. You ask yourself, "How did such a sleepy little
village become the home of such an awesome ballpark?" The answer to that question lies in the long and storied
history of baseball in Hamburg and its surrounding area.
The Early Years
The game of baseball in Hamburg goes back so far that nobody really knows when it began. We do know that
there was a team called the Hamburg Stars around the turn of the century. The well-known battery of pitcher
Otto Siewert Sr. and catcher Jerry Englen highlighted Hamburg teams from 1900 through 1920.
Great pitching has always been the hallmark of Hamburg teams. It was no different in the '20s and early '30s
when George "Shorty" Schrader took the mound. In fact, Schrader was drafted by Chaska and played a
prominent role helping them to a Class B state championship.
It was about this time that the Crow River Valley League, one of the oldest and most respected in the state,
decided to allow teams to hire pitchers. Seeing that this would not be in their best interest, Hamburg decided to
play in the Tomahawk League for a couple of seasons. In 1935, Hamburg became a charter member of the Dairy
Belt League along with Plato, Winsted, Lake Marion and Lester Prairie. This league only lasted a few years;
however, so the locals decided to tough it out against the hired guns of the Crow River Valley League. Despite
the absence of hired pitchers, the Hamburg team did very well. The teams in the late '30s had to play their home
games in Norwood because a housing development replaced the original Hamburg Park. As you will see, this
may have been the most significant event in Hamburg Baseball history.
The birth of a "Yard".
Immediately following World War II, Hamburg became a member of the S-C-S league, which was composed of
teams from Arlington, Green Isle, Belle Plaine, Cologne, Carver, Chanhassen, Hydes Lake, Norwood and
Hamburg. Because Hamburg still did not have its own park, it played its home games at Green Isle. In 1947, the
club purchased four acres on the north side of town and started to build a ballpark. The standing joke around
here is that the club has been building it ever since. The park was completed in 1948 and in true Hamburg style a
celebration with a parade was held to recognize the event. Many big events have been held at "the best looking 50
year old in the state" since then.
The Hamburg Baseball Club incorporated in April 1950 and has operated as a not-for-profit organization since that
date. The Crow River Valley League also re-entered the picture. By this time the league had gone away from
hiring pitchers. The '50s also saw team fortunes improve somewhat with several second place finishes and a
league championship in 1961. In regional play, that team eliminated Rogers, but was beaten by Saint Bonifacious,
the eventual state champions.
Going to "The Show"
The '60s began what has been a common theme in Hamburg Baseball -- constant improvement of the park. The
first lighting system was purchased from Glencoe in 1965 and installed on new 90-foot poles. This was all done
with volunteer labor, another common theme in the club's history. Night baseball seemed to bring out the best in
the locals. Under the direction of Manager Loran "Lefty" Graupmann, the team made the state tournament at
Jordan in 1969. The '69 team also decided to adopt Lefty's other nickname "Hawk", as their own. On that day
"Hawkamania" was born. Hamburg's first tournament team defeated Windom, but lost to Alexandria by one run
in the second round.
Lefty led the club back to the state tournament at St. Cloud in 1974. That team won two games before losing
3-1 to Cyrus in the quarterfinals. 1975 saw the Hawks make another run at the state championship in Delano
before losing to Dundas in the semi-finals. These clubs where again known for great pitching with the likes of
Jerry Stuewe, Bob "Schpitz" Mueller and drafted Green Isle ace Don "Pumper" Sauter. Hamburg also had its
share of sluggers during these state tourney years with Darv Rolf, Doug Will, Tom Kloempken and Mark
Willemsen just to name a few. Lefty Graupmann's contributions as a player, manager and league official were
recognized years later when he was named to the Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.
Building a Legend
The successes of the '70s were a financial springboard to the Hamburg Club. A new lighting system was installed
in 1977 and a new grandstand was erected in 1981. At the request of long time Hamburg Club player and
member Marv Scheele, who was elected to the State Board of Amateur Baseball in 1976, Hamburg began to
pursue being a host city to the State Amateur Baseball Tournament. Under the direction of club president Harlan
Dammann and long time baseball booster George Droege, Hamburg co-hosted with Arlington the 60th State
Amateur Baseball tournament. At the time, many wondered how such a small community could host such a big
event. Hamburg is the smallest city to ever do so. Concerns were quickly put to rest as players and fans came in
record number to see baseball. The event was such a success that the Board awarded the tournament to
Hamburg and Chaska in 1988. Again, records fell. In 1998 Hamburg again co-hosted the 75th Minnesota State
Amateur Baseball Tournament along with Chaska. In baseball terms, Hamburg went three for three with yet
another modern day attendance record.
The '80s and early '90s saw the club continue to make constant improvements to the park. When the Metrodome
took out their lighting system in 1990, the Hamburg club was waiting at the door. Again with volunteer labor, the
club installed another set of new lights. These lights have an impressive history; they hung above the 1987 World
But that wasn't enough. Knowing far in advance that the club would again be hosting the 1998 state tournament,
plans where drawn up by long time club officer Wendell Stuewe for a new grandstand facility. Many long days
and nights where spent by, you guessed it, volunteers in the fall of 1994 and spring of 1995 to complete the
project. The names of people who made contributions to help build the structure are engraved in its seats for
eternity. In the fall of 1997 a new, fully electronic scoreboard was installed thanks to the philanthropy of a
couple of Hamburg Baseball boosters.
It should be mentioned that all of this is done without one dime of city or taxpayer money.
Back to the Game
On field success during the '80s and '90s came and went. Although Hamburg teams are always competitive,
league championships were sparse, coming in 1981 and years later in 1992. Again pitching was the theme. Hard
throwing Jim Brazil, knuckle-curving Jay "Sudsy" Sutherland and a young John Wroge continued the Hamburg
tradition of fine pitching. All of these men where drafted and appeared in state tournaments for other Crow River
In the early '90s the nucleus began to form for the current Hawk team. 1997 started out disappointing as the club
began the season not playing up to expectations. But like a lot of young clubs, improvement can happen as
quickly as turning on a light switch. The Hawks defeated Young America in a three game series to earn a regional
birth. As the least respected team in the regional, the Hawks quickly turned heads by defeating Glencoe in the
first round, and arch rival Green Isle in the second. Hamburg topped it off by defeating New Germany in the
final round to achieve its first tournament birth in 22 years. Ironically, it was held in Delano and Maple Lake,
where the last Hawk tourney teamed played some two decades ago. Several Hamburg players are the sons and
son-in-laws of the players on those glory year teams.
After appearing in the region tournament in 1998 and 1999, the Hawks again broke through to the state
tournament held in 2000 at Fairfax and Sleepy Eye. This time losing an extra innings thriller to Elko in the first
So now that your questions have been answered, we would like you to sit back and enjoy some exciting baseball
action. It is through your continued support that we can improve and invest in the promotion of that great
American pastime ... Baseball!
Welcome to Hamburg!