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Ineligible Willmar Rail player was an invalid contract issue

The Willmar Rails were disqualified from the playoffs when right-handed pitcher Anthony Stern was ruled ineligible because he did not have a valid contract.

Stern signed a contract to play amateur ball with the Rails in 2005, then asked for his release in 2007, expecting to play in Moorhead where he was going to school, accoring to current manager Mark Krogstad.

"(Anthony) never played anywhere else so he thought he was still under contract," said Krogstad, in his first season as Rails' manager. "When I turned in a roster, I asked everyone that had played before what year they signed a contract and we put down 2005 for Anthony. He wasn't trying to pull a fast one or anything. He really felt he was still under contract."

All amateur players were required to sign new contracts in 2007, but Stern wasn't playing with any team then so he was unaware of the rule. Krogstad admitted he did not remember signing a contract himself in 2007.

"I just never paid any attention," he said. "When I took over as manager, I read all the rules and no where in the rules does it mention anything about a contract had to be signed again in 2007. So I really was unaware of it. It was an unwritten rule, but it should have been in the rules so first-year managers like myself are aware of it."

Krogstad, who is a law student, said the other Rails players have not held it against him or Stern for failing to have a proper contract.

"They've been really supportive," said Krogstad. "But we're all a little bitter over the ruling."

Krogstad wasn't auditioning for the manager job at the beginning of the year.

"We didn't have a manager and we all wanted to play," he said. "We were like kids who wanted to live a dream one more summer. So I said I would be the manager."

Then he managed a wide smile despite the adversity.

"One year as manager and look what a mess I made already," he joked.

Willmar is allowed to play its final regular-season game against Sacred Heart Friday night.