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Elsie Klemmetson, left, keeps the scorebook during an undated VFW baseball game in Willmar. <b>Rand Middleton</b>

50 years in the dugout ends for Elsie

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Elsie Klemmetson has hinted at retirement before but this time he means it. He's turned in his VFW uniforms, scorebooks and lineup cards.

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That gesture finalizes a 50-year association with youth baseball.

"I just can't see the outfield," he said. "I have to ask (someone on the bench), 'What happened out there?'

Ellsworth Klemmetson grew up outside Bemidji. The family moved to Willmar after World War II.

He coached the Willmar Police PeeWee team from 1960 to 1984. The east-siders dominated the late-elementary league. In 1969, VFW Post 1939 asked the army veteran to start a team. He managed for a decade before turning the on-field decisions over to successions of aspiring coaches.

Elsie, 79, is a lifelong bachelor and a former housepainter.

He was seriously ill in 2004 with congestive heart failure. He moved out of his house and into the first of several long-term care facilities.

He's lived at what is now called Willmar Commons on Russell Street for four years and his health has improved.

He likes to attend college games, when he can arrange transportation, and watch basketball, both college and pro, on TV.

While he won't be on the VFW bench this summer, he's got a dedicated seat at Bill Taunton Stadium. He just won't be keeping a scorebook.

George Jacobson returns to skipper the VFW senior team. He will be assisted by his son, also named George, and Ryan Scheffler. The junior team will be under Jason Scheffler and Justin Schwieger.

For the first summer since man first walked on the moon, there won't be a Klemmetson in the VFW dugout.

The Bates boys

At times, a Willmar High School alumni returns as an opposing coach with a son or daughter as one of his or her players. Jeff Ramey (WHS 1982), offensive coordinator at Brainerd, had a son, Scott at defensive end when the Warriors played here in 2007.

Next Tuesday, another '82 graduate, Paul Bates, returns to his home town as coach of the St. Cloud Tech boys tennis team with three sons in tow. Taking after their dad, it's a talented tennis trio.

Myles, a senior, was recently honored as Central Lakes Conference Performer of the Week, after going 2-0 at 1-singles and 1-0 at 1-doubles.

In an April 15 win over Sartell, Myles teamed with his brother, Tyler, a junior, to win 6-1, 6-1 at 1-doubles. Riley Bates, a bit of a tennis prodigy who played 3-singles last year as a seventh grader, beat the Sabres' Alex Hanson 6-2, 6-2 at 1-singles.

The Tigers currently are unbeaten in Central Lakes Conference matches.

State tourney

In the MCAC softball tournament quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Friday, the Ridgewater College Lady Warriors (26-10) meet Central Lakes (24-11) in Sauk Rapids.

The winner will play either Riverland (29-8) or Hibbing (11-16) at 1 p.m. The semifinal-round winners play again at 3 p.m. The tournament continues Saturday.

Back on track

The Willmar Rails open their 16-game Cornbelt League schedule May 16 at Sunburg vs. the Lakers. The home opener is May 21 vs. the Milroy Yankees. Player/managers Anthony Stern and Whitey Ditterich anticipate 15 to 18 players on the roster. They are looking to add non-league games to build a 20-game regular-season schedule.

On the fly

* Josh Dahlke's solo home run in the second inning started Concordia College on the way to a 5-1 victory over the University of St. Thomas Saturday as the Cobbers spit a doubleheader and maintained a share of first place with the Tommies in the MIAC. Dahlke, a senior center fielder who plans to play for the Rails this summer, is hitting .263 (20-for-76) in 30 starts with three homers and 12 RBI.

* The Cardinals gymnastics team received the Section 6A Academic Champions award at the state banquet. Coach Larry Selchow said it was on of his proudest moments since he took over the program from Carol Wegner in 1995.

* Ridgewater College sophomore Casey Sussenguth played for the NJCAA Division III All-Stars who defeated the DII All-Stars 129-125 in overtime at Las Vegas of Friday at the Nike National Coaches Clinic last weekend. The 6-8 forward, who will attend Southwest Minnesota State, scored five points, had five rebounds and a blocked shot.

* Sam Esboldt, who also started for the Cardinals this winter, will attend UM-Morris and play basketball. Jayne Cole plans to attend Luther College and run cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

* Callie Nelsen threw a two-hit shutout as Gustavus Adolphus beat St. Scholastica 7-0 on Monday in the season finale.

* Cody Connors, Ridgewater freshman from Thief River Falls, is MCAC Central Division Pitcher of the Week after allowing one earned run and fanning 12 while going 2-0. Shane Kampsen, freshman from Paynesville, leads the Central Division in hitting (.518) and RBI (57).

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Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
(320) 214-4334
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