As president of the Sleepy Eye Baseball Association, I want to introduce our new sign we hung last weekend at the ballpark.

If you are a frequent visitor of the Sleepy Eye Ballpark, you will notice a new sign that was hung this past weekend underneath the scoreboard in right field. The sign reads “Ridgely Farm Service” which is Denny Mangen’s. One may see that mixed in with the near hundred businesses that are represented on our outfield wall and think nothing of it. However, this one means a lot. In the backdrop of the sign is a photo of the beautiful ballpark last October. Entering the corner of the sign is Denny’s son John Mangen. For those who don’t know, John was one of my closest friends. This sign is special to me and a lot of his former teammates, and I am sure his family as well.

John lived and breathed the game of baseball. He was the epitome of what you wanted a ballplayer to represent. A wonderful ballplayer, truly talented, but an even better person with a huge heart and amazing work ethic, striving to the very best at whatever he did. John taught me and although he physically is no longer with us, he is with us at all times. He taught me to challenge and inspire myself and spread his contagious perspective onto everybody else also.

This sign should mean a lot to the community and when a young kid asks what that sign reads or what that sign stands for, you can tell them what it truly means. Hustle, work hard, set your goals high, never give in, treat everybody with respect, smile at strangers, have a sense of humor, and to have a caring, positive attitude.

The John Mangen Scholarship Award winners at Sleepy Eye Public Schools were Leslie Flores and Jacob Berg. The St. Mary's selections will be named in the coming weeks. This scholarship is given to a senior baseball and softball player at each high school to student-athletes that represent their love of the game as well as character and integrity on and off the field as well as the classrooms while discussing what the game of baseball and softball has meant to them.

With that said, I will leave you all with this for the week. You cannot eat your fruit the same day that you plant the seed. The last thing to grow on a fruit tree, is the fruit! Be patient with yourself and your goals.