Around 4pm on a summer Sunday is when the sound of the 7th Inning Stretch fills the streets of Maple Plain. Town team baseball is special because it is a sport that truly brings communities together, honors traditions, builds lasting friendships, and even creates unbreakable bonds within the families that are part of it. All of this especially holds true for Maple Plains own John Timpe. 2022 is the year we celebrate John’s 50th year since the creation of his very own Maple Plain town team.
After having enough of sitting on the bench, John was determined on creating a team of his own at age 21. This would not be an easy task. However, John knew he could do it. He started working hard alongside with his father, Don Timpe, to create the Maple Plain team. Through dedication John was able to successfully create the Maple Plain team and was recognized by the North Star League after one year of play. As with all startup teams, it took a few years before the Maple Plain town team started to enjoy some success. The town team made it to the State Tournament in three consecutive years – 1986, 1987 and 1988. The 1988 team was the Class C runner up finishing second to the Delano A’s.
Ironically enough the Maple Plain team completed their first sixteen years playing on the Orono High School JV field. Although that was a good start, John had a different vision for the team. With the recent success of the team, John was now determined to get his team their own field. He saw a plot of land, which was a swamp at the time, and could envision an amazing field with a concession stand and scoreboard where baseball enthusiasts could gather and celebrate. In order to get the field of his dreams he recalls, “Going door to door and getting a petition signed for the city to buy that property… the city was thinking about putting in apartments, but we thought a ball field would look a lot nicer”. In 1989 the vision becomes a reality as all the hard work finally paid off and the Maple Plain town team was welcomed home. Something truly to be proud of.
Although the team had a new field, most of the players from State runner-up team never played in Maple Plain as they move on to different teams or retired when the team was moved up to Class B. The team struggled in Class B for the next few years and was moved back down to Class C in 1994.
The team started to turn around in the late 90’s but with the not very impressive team play through a good portion of the decade, the team’s unofficial name was the Saps. This did not sit well with John, so he decided the team needed a name. Since town team baseball holds the hearts of the community John thought it would be a great idea to place boxes around at the local stores and allow members of the town to suggest team names. Once the night had come to pick a name John and friends gathered around excitedly to pick the awaited name. The name that stuck out that night was the Dust Devils. A member of the team thought that it sounded too much like a vacuum cleaner, John suggested the Diamond Devils and the name change was official. With the new name and the 1996 Orono players who finished second in state starting to mature, the team went on the compete in the State Tournament in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2015.
With all the accomplishments John was asked if there was one thing that really stuck out, “first building the ball field, it wasn’t’ just me it was my dad, all the ball players… when we were clearing all of that (swamp) out mom would bring roasters of food, sloppy joes and the weekend warriors would be helping and even sleeping in tents. We couldn’t have done it without everybody”. A close second to John was how proud he is of all the players over the years and all the commitments they made to the game. “They were all good teams and a lot of fun” John said with a smile on his face. There were many funny, amazing characters on and off the field over the years that made the ball field the best place to be. So many families have been brought together at Don Timpe Field.
Two things that John is passionate about in life are baseball and family. Baseball is a longstanding tradition in the Timpe family. Starting with Don Timpe (John’s father) who shared with John his passion for the game. Quickly John also fell in love with baseball and was able to share that same passion later in life with his son Andy Timpe. John has very fond memories going up the ball field with his father and is also lucky enough to have memories at the ball field with his own son too. Both family members played a huge, unforgettable role in John’s baseball career and John says he is very grateful for that.
Because of all the hard work and dedication John has put into the Maple Plain Diamond Devils, players will forever be able to enjoy the sport of town team baseball in their very own hometown. Through John’s dream, he created a place for ball players to live out their own dreams. A place where baseball fans can come together and traditions are kept alive. This is something that the town and players of Maple Plain will be forever grateful for. So for that, we thank you John and cheers to 50 years.
The Diamond Devils will celebrate 50 years of baseball on Saturday, July 9th against the Loretto Larks, game time 4:00.
Written by Hannah Rippberger