September 23, 2021

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Walvatne to be inducted into the MN Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame

Dwight Walvatne, Ashby, loves the Canadian duck hunting trips he takes in September. Last year he couldn’t go, because of the pandemic,  the border was closed, so he was really looking forward to going this year. But a couple of weeks ago, he found out he had another appointment in September. On Saturday, September 18, Walvatne will be inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. The ceremony, and banquet, will take place at the Rivers Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud.

“I am overwhelmed,” Walvatne said. “I’ve been playing baseball in Ashby since 1969 but I never thought it would turn into something like this.”

Walvatne was nominated for the Hall of Fame by friend Warren Nelson, his coach in town team baseball and former Ashby High School Principal. Several teammates and friends added letters of support.

Walvatne will actually be the third person from Ashby to get into the Hall of Fame. Player Oscar “Bunny” Runnning was inducted in 1963, and businessman Ken Berg was inducted in 1972 for his long-time support of baseball in Ashby.

Walvatne was born in Fergus Falls and grew up in Dalton. Living in the Fergus Falls school district, he played baseball for the Otters during the school year, while playing Little League and Legion ball in Ashby during the summer. His junior year, he enrolled in Ashby High School, claiming he had always wanted to wear the maroon and gold of the Arrows. 

Following graduation, in 1975,  he kept playing, on the same field, for the Ashby “A’s” town team. He began playing at short stop but soon switched to first base where he spent the majority of his playing time…  29 years! He figures he has played in at least 500 games.

“Warren Nelson was our manager from 1986 to 1995, and his knowledge of the game and coaching led us to many league titles and a state tournament appearance in 1987,” said Walvatne. 

The A’s also made an appearance in the State Amateur Baseball Tournament in 1998.

Walvatne himself managed the Ashby team for four years, and after he retired in 2004, he ran the concession stand and scoreboard at the ballpark for ten years.

He also helped put in the grass infield and irrigation system at the Ashby ballpark in 2005, and has maintained it ever since.

Walvante returned to the dugout as  the Ashby High School Junior High baseball coach from 2016 to 2020, and assistant varsity coach this spring. He was also head coach for the Ashby Legion team, and is coaching them again this summer,  and he was volunteer assistant coach for the Prairie Ridge Baseball Association’s White Sox in 2015. 

Walvatne coached the Ashby Babe Ruth team from 2016 through 2020. The team was 15U Minnesota State Champions in 2018 and took third place in 2019.

“It’s the greatest game around,” Walvatne said of baseball. “You have to be thinking to be a baseball player. It’s a team sport, a situational game, and you have to make adjustments.”

Walvatne spent 33 years in law enforcement, including 22 years as the Grant County Sheriff. He retired in 2016, and was elected to the Grant County Board of Commissioners. Currently, he also works as a heavy equipment operator for Ness Backhoe, Ashby.

Tickets to the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet can be ordered by downloading a form from the Hall of Fame website <mnamateurbaseballhof.com>. Or you can order tickets by calling Bob Karn at 320-292-2268 or emailing him at mnbaseballhof@charter.net. Tickets must be ordered by Sept. 3.