by Dennis Dalman
Randy Beckstrom’s friends sometimes tease him about how someday, way in the future, he ought to be buried under centerfield in Champion Field in Sartell.
Good-natured Beckstrom always laughs.
“Well, yes, might as well get buried there,” he told the Sartell Newsleader, chuckling. “I’ve spent at least half of every summer for years at that field. It’s my home away from home. ”
Friends also tease him about how he doesn’t want to grow up. He’s played ball and been coach-manager of the Sartell Muskies for a long, long time. He joined the team right after graduating from Sartell High School in 1989 – nearly 25 years ago.
Once the “young pup” on the team, Beckstrom its now its distinguished elder.
“They should be happy to have a guy who can still run around the outfield,” a chuckling Beckstrom said, quickly admitting that, no, he’s not as fast as he used to be.
Beckstrom and the Sartell Muskies were honored Monday night at the Sartell City Council when Mayor Joe Perske proclaimed Sept. 25 as “Sartell Muskies Day.” Beckstrom attended the meeting, along with several of his Muskies players whom he introduced to the council after Perske read his official proclamation.
Part of the proclamation reads: “Amateur baseball has had a rich heritage throughout the State of Minnesota for over a century, and the Sartell Muskies have been part of that history since 1979.” The team, the mayor added, is the object of Sartell’s community pride, especially after it won the 2013 State Class C championship recently. After a phenomenal winning season, the Muskies defeated Belle Plaine, 10-0, to take the state title at Maple Lake’s Irish Stadium.
Beckstrom showed the dazzling championship trophy to the council. He thanked Sartell residents and the council for the “Muskies Day” honor, and council members thanked him for his hard work with the Muskies and for his many efforts to improve the facilities at Champion Field. The council chamber erupted into hearty applause.
“All the guys, including myself, appreciate this honor,” Beckstrom later told the Newsleader.
Beckstrom, a long-time Sartell native, has always loved three sports: football, basketball and baseball. His “first love” was basketball, which he played in high school and during his student years at St. John’s University, where he earned a degree in management. He was teased then, too, for being a “shrimp” on the team at “only” 5 feet 11 inches tall.
When he joined the Muskies after high school, Beckstrom played centerfield. Later, he pitched for the team. Twenty-five years ago, the average age of Muskies players was 27 or 28. Now, it’s more like 32, with lots of men ages 30 to 40. Just last week, the team sprang a surprise birthday party for player Shawn Schoen, who turned 40 years old. There is a core of long-time Muskies, about seven or eight of them, who have been with the team for six or more years.
In 1992, the Muskies won its first state championship. Last month, 21 years later, they won their second state title. People often ask Beckstrom which win was the most exciting.
“They were both great,” he said. “Winning was a thrill.”
But pausing a few seconds, he quickly added, “The most enjoyable thing, though, more than winning, was the bonding, of us just evolving into a team, building a kind of family. That’s been the best thing.”
Beckstrom is the son of Al and Helen Beckstrom, who are still alive and well, living in Waite Park.
“I grew up in Sartell, and I’ve seen this town grow from about 3,000 people at the time I graduated from high school to almost 16,000 people. It’s been fun to see Sartell grow.”
Beckstrom was raised on his grandparents land on the river road just north of Sartell. He has a sister, Lori, who is an artist in Colorado; and a brother, Jamie, who along with his wife, owns and operates a daycare center in Sartell.
For 18 years, Beckstrom worked in the carpet business. About a year ago, he changed jobs and is now an employee of Industrial Insite, which helps companies develop a wide variety of training programs.
He and his wife, Shanna, have three children: Brady, 14; Brooke, 11; and Lilly, 4.
Shanna works for Array Services in Sartell in its medical-services division.
The family has lived in a west Sartell neighborhood for 13 years, and Beckstrom said he cannot imagine living anywhere else.
“Our idea of a happy time is getting together with neighbors at home.”
They enjoy impromptu gatherings where jokes, pranks and mischievous merriment rule.
Will Beckstrom ever retire from his coach-manager job with the Muskies? Will he ever grow up?
Probably not. Every year, he asks his players if he should retire. He asks them if anyone else would like to take over his job.
“I really want to give someone else a chance,” he said.
But he gets no takers.
So, in the meantime, Beckstrom, like in an endless game of tag, is “it.” He can’t grow up; the Muskies won’t let him.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.