By Mike Sticha
The Elko Express will honor two of their long-time great baseball players by retiring their numbers. The recipients of the distinguished honor are Brad Fredrickson (#5) and Ty Dombeck (#29).
The Number Retirement Ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 30th at 7:15 pm at Elko’s Fredrickson Field, preceding the 7:30 pm game between the New Market Muskies and Elko Express.
Brad’s baseball history started in Elko in the 1960’s, when he played pick-up games with his brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends. He played organized Little League in Lakeville, and then played on Elko’s Town & Country team in 1972. In 1976, he starting playing for the Elko Express, and did so until 2003. In 2004, his son was playing with the New Market Muskies, so Brad joined the Muskies from 2004-2007. But Brad joined the Express again in 2008 and retired from the team in 2013, thus ending his 38 year career in amateur baseball. “I am proud of the fact that I played in five decades,” said Brad as he looked back on his long career.
As he puts it, Brad’s family is woven into the fabric of Elko baseball. Brad is part of the 4th generation of Fredrickson’s involved in baseball in the Elko area, dating back to the 12 Fredrickson brothers who formed a team in the 1920s. His mother and father were heavily involved in fundraising and promoting Elko baseball, and his brother, Terry, has been Manager of the Express since 1976. “Always having many family members at games, from brothers and sisters, my four children, many nieces and nephews and relatives made it special,” added Brad.
One of his career highlights occurred in 1985, when Elko qualified for the State Tournament for the first time. Brad made the All-Tournament team, and the Express went on to finish 4th (in a one-class Tournament). Another highlight of course occurred in 2008, when Elko won the Class C State Championship.
Brad remembers fondly the match-ups between New Market and Elko, which typically occurred on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. “The local fans were very emotionally attached to their towns and each game felt like a playoff game. The bookies were busy at those games. It was great to win, and hard to lose. It was amateur baseball at its best. I think in the early years when players were more local, fans were cheering for the pride and success of their hometowns, ethnic heritage, and nationalities.”
He also enjoyed the fun and challenges of competing against New Prague and Lonsdale during the 1980s and 90s. “New Prague had such well-rounded teams and they were very tough to beat. Lonsdale had great power hitting teams and playing against a ballplayer as fantastic as Darrell Vosejpka was special.”
Brad also enjoyed his teammates. “Playing for three decades with John Hardie and Tim Beno was interesting. I wonder how many hours we spent hashing over and dissecting games at the local tavern?”
He also adds Ty Dombeck as a fabulous all-around ballplayer and a fantastic teammate. His cousin Stan Fredrickson was a great pitcher and brought a lot of fun to the game.
Today, Brad likes to go for nature walks and does plenty of reading. He also does a lot of Ballroom Dancing, and even teaches Ballroom Dancing.
(in his own words)
I am so honored it is hard to know where to begin. When I think of my baseball career playing for Elko was nothing but a positive and exciting experience. Every relationship, whether it was with my teammates, coaches or even my opponents, had a positive impact on my life. Thinking back, I couldn’t wait to play Friday nights under the lights at either Lonsdale or New Prague, only to know that it was going to be a fierce, competitive evening of baseball. Playing in front of those huge crowds was the best, and knowing the pitching matchups of Dombeck vs. Vosejpka or Dombeck vs. Lapic only made it that much better! To top it off, probably the most rewarding part after the battle on the field was to know that both teams, win or lose, could hang out together afterwards and buy each other a beer. Most nights were spent closing the field down even after the lights went out! To me playing in the DRS was like playing in the Major Leagues.
Through the many years I played there were many talented players; some who could have easily played at a higher level. There are many players I played against, as well as many of my own teammates, whose numbers should be hanging on their respective field’s fences!
Let’s talk about the Fredrickson’s. As a player I am both honored and privileged to have played for Terry, and been associated with the Fredrickson family. People don’t realize how much countless hours are put into preparing for a season of baseball. It required field preparation, stocking the concession stand, running the concession stand, and for Terry, managing the Elko team. Playing for Terry Fredrickson was to sum it up, awesome! Terry was always the first one at the field and usually the last one to grab a beer off the tray at the end of the night.
This piece could go on forever because my career in the DRS was awesome. I just want to say this to all the current players out there to not take this time playing baseball for granted. It is truly a time you should cherish and enjoy! You will make so many unforgettable relationships both on and off the field as well as even make many friends for life. Some of my best friends today are my teammates from Elko baseball, and even in our busy schedules we continue to try to get together and make as many Elko games as possible.
There are so many people I would like to thank for making all these years of Elko baseball some of the best times of my life. The Elko fans, my teammates, my friends, and my coaches were all part of the reason I loved showing up to play each weekend! I want to thank my family: my wife, Pam, my daughters Danielle and Maddy and my parents Ray and Barb who were always there to support me and rarely missed a game - home or away! They are truly the ones I continued to play for.
Again, all I can say is thank you Elko! I am honored to have been a player and will continue to be a fan of this great organization! I cannot wait to see my number on the fence!