Watkins community comes together to help repair historic baseball stadium

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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WATKINS, Iowa (KCRG) - The history of baseball in the small, unincorporated town of Watkins runs deep.

“It’s just an ongoing thing,” said resident Allen Walter. “We’ve been at it since the ’30′s,”

Home of the Mud-Hens, the town of fewer than 100 people, holds a great deal of pride in their local baseball team and stadium. The name has been the Mudhens forever, and has a history that’s spanned generations.

“Way back in the 1930′s and 40′s in Watkins, if it rained, they didn’t care if it was muddy or not, they played,” Walter added.

Just by taking a quick look around, it’s easy to see why the connection of the team and the town is so strong.

“All of us guys around here, our dads played and cousins and uncles and everybody has helped,” Walter said.

The ballpark itself is a staple in Watkins. It has an old-fashioned grandstand, cornfields surrounding the outfield, and a locker-room for players that when you step inside, you step backwards in time.

“It is kind of a community thing,” Walter said. “People like to come here. I think we’re famous for our chili dogs and walking tacos and cheap beer. It’s a fun night. People look forward to, they come in and bring their kids, they come in for supper and usually some good baseball,”

There’s a reason that for months people like Walter have arrived to this stadium to work. The group, including former players, need to fix what was destroyed in last year’s derecho.

“We kind of support each other,” said resident Dan Schulte. “There aren’t that many of these small independent teams left and so we try to help each other out,”

One by one, the paneling along the outfield fence goes back up. During the storm, panels were sent to cornfields 100 yards away.

“It looks pretty good from what it looked like a month ago,” Walter said.

New lights and a scoreboard are needed as well as the derecho knocked out transformers that can’t be replaced. Slowly and surely, the ballpark looks closer to how it did before.

“We knew we had to get it back because we had to have baseball, whatever it took,” Walter said “Since the 30′s, people know about Watkins and they want to help out so they have. I think we’re going to get it done alright,”

If you would like to donate to the repair of the stadium, please send a check or reach out to the Watkins Athletic Association at the Watkins Savings Bank at P.O. Box 140, Watkins, Iowa 52354.

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