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Eric Morken, Forum News Service, Published March 21 2013

Former Twins coach to take over Alexandria team

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. - A blurry picture on the future of the Alexandria Beetles finally got some clarity this morning as Alexandria’s Scott Allen and Shane Schmidt joined Minnesota Baseball Academy owner Adam Barta in forming the new local ownership group for the Northwoods League franchise.

That transition has been in the works for almost a month but became official this morning with all the paper work being completed. League president Dick Radatz Jr. wouldn’t release the cost that the organization was sold for but was excited about how this came together after taking over the team from former owner Shawn Reilly earlier this winter.

“I think we’re very relieved,” Radatz said. “There were a number of inquiries. I think we could have sold to a number of different people, but I think this was the best option, truthfully. Having the local aspect is very important and ideal to have. Scott had also been a previous owner of the club, and he brings the knowledge of the Northwoods League with him.”

The first big move the ownership group made was solidifying former Minnesota Twins player and third-base coach Al Newman as the field manager this summer. Newman has worked alongside Barta at the Minnesota Baseball Academy and is excited about the opportunity to work with college-age players in the NWL after coaching the Apple Valley American Legion team in recent years.

“When it was whispered in my ear if I might consider it, I tell you, a grin came upon my face that hasn’t been there in five or six years pertaining to the excitement of coaching older players,” Newman said. “And players who have the mindset that they want to play professionally. It really intrigued me.”

Allen said he was first approached by the league in January about being the general manager of this team. As things went along, talks turned toward trying to put together an ownership group that could ensure Beetles baseball would stay in Alexandria for the foreseeable future.

“Having been in ownership in the league in years past, I knew it was a pretty big undertaking with having full-time jobs and everything else,” Allen said. “I wanted to bring in people who I thought had a passion for baseball and people who had a passion for baseball in Alexandria.”

This group assured the NWL Board of Directors when talks became serious that they were committed to being in it for the long haul. Any fears for baseball fans that this team might no longer be here after this upcoming summer seem to be alleviated with this move.

“I think [that’s true],” Radatz said. “It’s a very geographically advantageous location for the league. We’re earnestly looking at Bismarck, North Dakota as an expansion city and Alexandria plays a vital role in that expansion from geographical terms. So yeah, long term, Alexandria is very valuable to us.”

Fans will have to get used to cheering for a new nickname as the ownership group works to change the team name to the Alexandria Blue Anchors. Former NWL player and current St. Cloud resident Joe Dempsey has also been named the team’s new general manager.

Dempsey and the new ownership group have a lot of work to do before the first pitch is thrown out against Duluth on May 29. See Friday’s issue of the Echo Press to read more about what this group has in plan for the team’s future and how Newman feels about leading the organization from the dugout.