The ballpark is old-school. Vintage. Something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. A brickyard named in honor of a legendary skipper, Frank Wade, the man who brought the pro game to Duluth during the Great Depression. But also a stadium recently renovated.

The baseball played there is classic. Wood bats. Hustle. Up-and-coming phenoms from colleges and universities, dreaming of The Bigs, willing to play their hearts out and sacrifice to get there.

The team is as much the community's as the fog that so often rolls in from the big lake and sneaks over the left field wall before crawling toward the third base box. Players live with host families and have curfews. Tailgaters dot the parking lot, their grill smoke wafting, enticing. Moms, dads, kids, cousins, Little League teams, and others fill the stands, making memories that last.

But the opportunities to be a part of it, to nestle into Wade Stadium for a Duluth Huskies game - the smells of roasting hot dogs and popcorn, cold beer, and the eternal presence of kids with gloves hoping for foul balls - are fleeting. The opportunities are as fleeting as summer in Duluth.

There are only three chances left. Just three more home games this season, starting with today's at 6:35 p.m. start against the Eau Claire Express, tied for first place entering action this week in the Northwoods League's North Division. Our Huskies were just 4.5 games off the pace in the season's second half.

Good baseball at the Wade? You bet. Ten former Huskies players have gone on to play in the major leagues. And Terry Collins, the Huskies manager in 2009, went on to manage the New York Mets in the World Series in 2015, the same year he was named National League manager of the year.

Who from this year's roster will be next in reaching baseball's biggest ballparks? Perhaps one of the local kids. Pitchers Colin Baumgard, Ryan Cunningham, and Marcus Frederickson all also play for the University of Minnesota Duluth. Joe Gonrowski pitches, too, for the College of St. Scholastica.

Who knows? While taking in a game at the Wade, you could be watching the next Willie Stargell, Hank Aaron, Roger Maris, Darryl Strawberry or Jack Morris, all of whom played at the stadium either on their way to baseball stardom or in the twilights of their celebrated careers.

But there are just three more chances - three more opportunities to turn off the TV; to grab your family, friends, neighborhood kids or whoever; to head to the Wade; to root, root, root for and support the home team; and, along the way, to meet neighbors, talk and build community - one inning at a time.

After tonight, the Huskies wrap up their 2017 regular-season engagements at the Wade on Thursday, Aug. 10 and on Friday, Aug. 11, both games against the Rochester Honkers. That Thursday is Renaissance Festival night and fans receive reusable shopping bags. That Friday prizes will be given out every inning; Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts will camp out after the game; and there'll also be post-game fireworks.

So plan now. Baseball at the Wade is a summer treat not to be missed. And around here, summer is fleeting.

 

 Note: Versions of this editorial were published in 2015 and 2016.