Check out what are literally being called “the most extreme obstacle course races imaginable” at the Spirit MountainMudman Race on Saturday. Apparently they’ve never been in line for dinner at one of my family reunions, am I right?
Friday pitcher Chad Lyons arrived at the field 45 minutes early, presumably to claim the field for his team in some sort of ceremonial ritual that involved his old high-school soccer cleats and a cigarette.
It worked. Friday took the 2013 Homegrown Kickball Classic, 7-5.
Rainy conditions throughout the week forced the game to be played away from its usual location, Chester Bowl. After a 20-minute search for car-floormat-bases, the action was underway at Observation Park.
Friday player Jon Choi led off the game by reaching on an error. Heather Dean was thrown out at first base on the second play, but decided to stay on base anyway. A few pitches later, Saturday coach Paul Lundgren brought to umpire Rick Boo’s attention that Dean was still on base. Boo confirmed that he called her out, but then said since she had been there a while she might as well be allowed to stay.
That decision ultimately padded Friday’s score by two points. After Ryan Nelson, dressed in lemon-lime attire, flew out — which should have been the third out, ending the inning with no score — Andy Pletcher singled to drive in Choi and Dean. The usual Homegrown kickball controversy was thick from the get go.
Saturday countered with a run in the bottom of the first when Paul Connolly scored a split second before a tag-out on third base ended the inning. Connolly had reached on an error when Scott Millis failed to successfully field the ball while holding his beer, which resulted in Friday Coach Eric “Heiko” Edwardson cussing Millis out.
No one scored in the second or third innings, but there were plenty of arguments and errors to keep things interesting.
Chris LeBlanc scored a run for Saturday in a wild fourth inning, tying up the game at 2-2. Saturday had the bases loaded when a baserunning error by Lane Prekker ended the inning prematurely.
Friday got going again at the top of the fifth, when Choi and Dean scored their second runs of the game.
The coolest moment was probably when Lyons accidentally hit Saturdayer Jacob Swanson in the sweatshirt while trying to throw to first. As Swanson walked dejectedly off the field he said, “I shouldn’t have had my hood up.”
Friday strode a safe distance ahead in the sixth with two more runs, securing a 6-2 lead. It was a tough inning for Saturday, with Heather Dean and Ryan Nelson’s double play knocking out two Saturday Crunchy Bunchers.
Saturday began to come back in the seventh, after a scoreless inning from Friday. Anders Lundahl and Derek Delgado both singled to start the inning and eventually scored.
At the top of the eighth, it was anyone’s game. The score was 6-4. Tensions were high. Pitchers’ eyes were mud-caked. Jello shots were jiggling. Ari Norrgard scored for Friday, boosting the lead to 7-4.
Lane Prekker, Saturday Pitcher
At the bottom of the ninth, Saturday needed three to tie. Dan Branovan singled to open the inning. Prekker followed with a two-base kick, lifting spirits. Victory was in reach. It was as dramatic as one of those games in Remember the Titans, or Mighty Ducks 2.
Prekker made it home, but there was a controversy over whether he was safe or not. The verdict was no. Saturday was still behind 7-5. The bases were loaded for Paul Whyte, but the game ended in anticlimax when he flew out, securing Friday’s win.
Ryan Van Slooten, MVP
The honor of MVP went to Ryan Van Slooten of the Friday team. His response, along with “It’s been a long year of hard work, improving my game,” was “Wasn’t Kyle co-MVP with me?”
Yes, he was – kind of. Kyle Maclean got an honorable mention for diving headfirst into home plate.
Least Valuable Player this year was Chris LeBlanc, “for playing atrociously at third base,” as his own coach remarked.
Worth noting: There was an argument voiced that Brandon Helberg should be LVP for falling on his face so much when he kicked.
Also worth noting: Saturday had 12 players while Friday had at least 24.
Best individual insult goes to Ryan Nelson, directed at Lane Prekker: “Not bad for the third-best washboard player at the kickball game.”
The two coaches – Heiko for Friday and Lundgren for Saturday – shook hands like champs after the game.
Heiko had this to say: “The long winter has ended. Friday’s victory has brought forth a new spring.”
Lundgren had a response, as well.
“We always seem to be outnumbered when the game is at Observation Park on crappy days,” he remarked. “I think it’s because Saturday bands are playing later and they’re afraid they’ll catch cold before the show.”
*If you notice any errors or have additional information to add to this article, please let us know. Nicely. Or not nicely. Whatever. It was really cold and muddy. We did our best, okay?
Judy Okstad stands at the counter of Central Sales, welcoming customers into a three-floor-deep ocean of stuff. Seriously… a lot of stuff.
“There’s a lot to remember where things are,” Okstad says. “When people aren’t in here I do walk around and I look and try to memorize.”
The “handyman’s candy land,” as owner Joel Russell calls it, sells just about everything: tools, boots and shoes, motors, greeting cards, ribbons. The variety is overwhelming. Downstairs: auto exhaust pipes. Upstairs: porcelain figurines.
Col. Brent Loberg stands at the front of a huge warehouse-like room, auctioning off bottles of barbecue sauce, jars of olives and boxes of candy.
“Who else wants a Sweet Tart Squeeze here?” Loberg calls in a booming auctioneer voice. “Whoa, that’ll make you pucker up there.”
Col. Brent Loberg accepts items for the upcoming Sellers Auction.
Another man in a gray T-shirt, a beard and glasses walks through the crowd carrying the strange tooth-paste-looking tubes of candy and saying, “Anybody need a pucker?”
This is the Monday night Sellers Auction in Duluth’s West End neighborhood.
Katie Gooder, paddle #178 and an auction regular for the past two years, explains the bizarre goods being sold.
“There’s a couple guys who come in and they sell food,” Katie says. “Sometimes they have coffee, sometimes they have … See, now you can get bologna.”
She laughs as they pull out the deli meat.
The first Monday night of the month is antique night, where Loberg sells antiques and only antiques. Tonight, though, the offerings are more varied. After the food is gone, Loberg will start auctioning off tables covered with every item imaginable: records, mirrors, clocks, Louis L’Amour books, a rocking horse, a set of kitchen knives, a metal detector.
“They sell everything here,” Katie says. “Except animals. I don’t think he’s done any animals.”
As a matter of fact, he has.
“We do a few farm sales every so often,” Loberg says. “November I sold three cows.”
Loberg’s world exists at the top of a wide staircase on the corner of 21st Avenue West and Third Street, past the faint smell of cigarette smoke and mothballs. A significant crowd is gathered here. Most of the people have paddles in their back pockets. The room is decorated with neon signs, a mounted canoe and a small race car, among other things. Loberg buys the decorations himself.
“I buy goofy stuff once in a while,” he says. “Like those mannequins over there.”
He’s referring to two naked mannequins watching stoically from inside a glass case in the front of the room.
Loberg has been running the Sellers Auction in this same building for 30 years.
“Something I kind of fell into and liked it and I thought, you know, this is gonna be fun,” Loberg says. “Just a real interesting business.”
Loberg went to “auction school” in Iowa.
“It’s a two-week school and then you graduate, and bingo!” Loberg raises his arms in the air. “Here I am!”
The title of “colonel” doesn’t come from the military – it comes from auction school. Loberg says that after the Civil War, only the colonels could sell the old army equipment. That’s why auctioneers started using the title.
Loberg’s weekly auction is not just for the casual observer, although anyone can walk in and feel at home pretty quickly.
“It’s a huge community of people,” Katie says. “A lot of people just do the whole circuit.”
The Sellers Auction takes place on 21st Avenue West in Duluth.
Katie goes to auctions with her husband, Bill.
“Somebody had told us a long time ago about the auction and we had nothing to do one night,” Katie says, “and then it just became a habit.”
Bill says from under his Navy hat and sunglasses, “Something to do on Monday night. Gets to be like family around here.”
He holds a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates that he says he bought for Katie (“She went on a diet, she won’t eat ‘em”) and he passes the chocolates out to anyone who will take one.
“Take two, they’re small,” he says to a passerby.
Bill and Katie are selling coins, gold and silver, at this particular auction. Katie sees something she wants – the first item she has bid on tonight.
“Bill, will you go get that lamp oil for me?”
Katie hands him the paddle and he hands her his Styrofoam cup of coffee. He ambles up to a table in the front with a crowd around it. The bidding here, Katie says, never gets too heated.
“There’ll be bidding wars ’cause sometimes you just really want it,” she says. “When you walk away you go, ‘It’s mine, it’s just mine!’ It’s really fun … People are never mean about it or spiteful. There are a lot of fun people here.”
Some of the observers are antique sellers or auctioneers themselves, such as Patrick Miller.
Miller sits in a rolling chair near the back, watching the proceedings with an educated eye. He’s been buying and selling since he was 16 years old.
One of the best turnovers he ever made, Miller says, was when he bought a painting of an elephant and a tree with a nude woman painted into it. He bought it for $300 and sold it later that day for $3,000.
“It’s more luck of the draw,” Miller says. “I haven’t become a millionaire off of one piece yet, but hopefully someday.”
The auction will run until 10 or 11 p.m., but the same crowd will no doubt gather again soon, looking for an oddity or a bargain.
Tonight, though, Bill is set on taking one thing home.