Roger Bjorklund, a 1966 graduate of Fergus Falls High School who played baseball in this community, enjoyed attending college baseball games as a resident of Southern California.
Two teams he followed were Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.
“I was able to accumulate 360 baseballs, from foul balls hit into tall grassy areas, over a span of 15 or so years,” said Bjorklund.
Next to the Cal State Fullerton field was an arboretum, a botanical garden specializing in trees. Many foul balls were hit into that area.
Right next to the baseball field at UC Irvine was a grassy hill near left field, never mowed.
“I’d often scour both locations for baseballs,” Bjorklund said. “It became a hobby of sorts, in addition to attending the college baseball games.”
Fast forward and Bjorklund, now retired, has moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. In that community he has connected with 1963 FFHS grad Ken Kothe, who also played baseball in Fergus Falls and has a winter residence in Las Vegas.
Ken is a retired minister whose Minnesota home is in St. Michael, southeast of St. Cloud and northwest of Minneapolis.
Ken’s son, Jake, is an administrator and coach at Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas. This gave Bjorklund an idea about what to do with his 360 baseballs. Why not donate them to the high school baseball program?
He did just that on Nov. 3 this year.
The Faith Lutheran High School coach, Dave Anderson, happily accepted the used baseballs which will be used mostly for practices. High school baseball teams out West get going with their seasons in February, due to the warmer climates.
“Baseballs cost about five dollars each, and those costs can add up for high school baseball teams,” Bjorklund said. “With that in mind, I feel really good about helping out the Faith Lutheran High School baseball team.”
Adds coach Anderson, “This donation of baseballs is huge for us and is much appreciated. These baseballs go a long ways.”
Jake played college football at the University of Northern Iowa, catching footballs as a wide receiver for future NFL quarterback Kurt Warner.
His wife, Wendy, also a high school administrator at Faith Lutheran High School, played college basketball at UNI where the couple met and were later married. Their son, Elijah, is a wide receiver at San Diego State University.
Jake’s nephew and the grandson of Ken, Isaiah Weston, is a wide receiver at UNI.
Ken’s wife is the former Katie Beamish, 1964 FFHS grad. They have four children.
Bjorklund, before his retirement, worked in California in the food service industry, with sales to hotels, restaurants and hospitals. He resided at Newport Beach near Los Angeles before his recent move to Las Vegas.
My take on vote challenges
In 2008 I witnessed reviews of disputed ballots as part of the recount in the race between Minnesota incumbent U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and DFL challenger Al Franken.
As a newspaper reporter, I found myself at a table of four with Otter Tail County Auditor Wayne Stein, one person representing Coleman and another person representing Franken.
Stein and the two representatives of the candidates discussed a disputed ballot.
The Franken representative, after carefully looking over the disputed ballot, said this, “There’s no doubt in my mind that this particular voter had every intention of voting for Norm Coleman. So go ahead and place this in the Coleman column.”
Later, a Coleman representative saw that a vote, disputed, was indeed intended to be a vote for Franken. He said to place this in the Franken column.
I left the Otter Tail County Government Services Center feeling good about the election process. People generally want to do the right thing as part of vote counting in the county.
I’m convinced this generally holds true today all across the United States.
Tom Hintgen is a longtime Daily Journal columnist. His column appears Saturdays.