Huskies fans enjoy a comeback teamJust who are these Duluth Huskies, the team that finds itself in the Northwoods League playoffs for the first time in six years?
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
Just who are these Duluth Huskies, the team that finds itself in the Northwoods League playoffs for the first time in six years?
Some of the team’s biggest fans have their opinions on just why they are enjoying extra baseball in August.
“They’ve knit themselves together tighter,” Bill Taylor said. He and his wife, Char, are player hosts, housing Christoph Bono and Burke Seifrit this year. Bono had a clutch hit in the eighth inning Monday night to bring in an insurance run.
Char said last year’s team was just as good as the current version, but the 2013 bond is what launched the team into the playoffs. She said it might simply come down to the fact that many of the players don’t have vehicles and are carpooling to get around. They spend a lot of time together.
The two have been taking in players for seven years and have been avid Duluth baseball fans since the Dukes of the mid-1990s.
“Maybe it’s that this team is a little bit older,” Bill said. “They got down to business right away.”
The moniker of the moment is “Comeback Huskies” as the team rallied from behind several times at the end of the season with a seven-game winning streak to clinch a playoff spot.
It was a similar scenario Monday night as the Huskies rallied after trailing 2-0 to Waterloo in the fifth inning to win going away, 5-2. The win puts the Huskies one win from taking the three-game series and heading to the league championship series.
Ed Gleeson has also been a player host and has been to every home game this season. He said the coaching is propelling the team.
They let the players make the decisions and trust in them, he said.
“This is adult baseball,” he said.
It’s middle relief as well, Gleeson said. That proved to be true in the eighth inning when Nate Carter pitched out of a bases-loaded jam. The final out brought up the loudest cheering of the night.
“That relief pitcher just slayed a super dragon,” fan Roshi Emad-Syring cheered.
Huskies co-owner Mike Rosenzweig was elated Monday with the enthusiasm of the crowd. He greeted fans and thanked them for coming in. The team handed out free “bam bams,” inflatable tubes that fans beat together to raise the sound at the game. While the crowd of 1,087 didn’t match the gates of last week, the fans were buzzing with playoff spirit.
“People come and say thanks for keeping the team in Duluth,” Rosenzweig said. “And it’s August. People still want to watch baseball.”
His mild plaint is that the team needed the second-to-last game of the season to secure the playoff spot. It meant just more than a day to promote Monday’s game.
“We needed more time to get people geared up,” he said.
Fans gobbled up about half of the 100 playoff T-shirts for sale. All other team merchandise was 25 percent off.
As far as the team’s success, Rosenzweig said, “These kids care. It’s just the right mix of personalities.”
There’s also a secret weapon: 12-year-old Jenna Meyer. She sang the national anthem Monday, her third time at a Huskies game.
With the encouragement of her parents, Ollie and Mary Meyer, she’s been singing since she was 7. She was discovered by team officials when she sang the anthem at some college games. She was asked Friday by the team if she would sing again.
“The general manager says when I sing, they win,” Jenna said with a giggle. The team is 3-0 this year with her at the mic.
Tailgaters were in full force before the game. They were able to stay entertained by a youth soccer match on the field just outside Wade Stadium.
It was a double bonus day for Sharyn and Larry Danielson. Their tailgate set-up included flowers and a balloon that said “Happy Anniversary.” It was a family affair as more than a dozen people ate brats and other game day staples while celebrating the couple’s big day.
“You can’t do this at a Twins game,” Sharyn said, remembering the time her tailgating party was kicked out of parking lot in Minneapolis.
Larry said he supports any Duluth team as a rule and appreciates the Huskies for their hustle.
“You don’t know their names,” he said. “But look at the plays they make out there. Some of these guys are making big-league plays.”
“They come out here to play and they play hard,” Char Taylor said.
Bill Taylor calls the Huskies teammates the couple takes in their “Summer Sons.” He finds it difficult to exactly encapsulate what the team means to them.
“We get as much out of it or more out of it as our guys do,” he said.