The Minneapolis Lakers were founded in 1990 by Tony Case and his band of college players from Macalester College. The team was called the Westside Scots and it played in the St. Paul league at Dunning field and Midway stadium. In the first season Tony’s brother Alex or “Case” as he is known showed up during a game stepping off barefoot from his light blue VW bus with floral curtains. Alex was the mainstay franchise player and continued to be the cornerstone all the way into the current decade. In the early days, the team was well funded and had the luxury of sponsorships from the likes of Ryan Mazda or TC areas Vendors.
Paul Samanant assumed leadership of the team in the mid-90s, when Tony moved onto frisbee, and he then moved the team across the river to the Park National league, and aptly renamed it the Southwest Lakers and then the Minneapolis Lakers. The team had additional connections to UND and Southwest area baseball players through coaches Jared Mountain and Alex Case. These connections brought on Brannon Weigel, Billy Diaz, Joe Larson. The connection with Macalester was re-established with signing of Solty, Damo, Andy Odegaard and Co. The team’s competitive level of play often led to appearances in several final-round series of the Park National playoffs. In 1999, with Alex in Vegas, Billy Diaz and Brannon Weigel, Lou Bavaro led the charge as the Lakers beat the Angels to finally earn a trip to the Class A State Tournament.
Fast forward 21 years later, the team continues to remain a top fixture in Class A baseball. Mini-generations have since come and gone including a couple of return trips to state: Joe Larson, Brannon Weigel, Billy Diaz, Ted Kimble, John Simkins, Mike Batty, Neal Perryman, Kier Palmer Klein: the list of notable Lakers is far too long to print (see historical roster page). The names tell their own story. The team’s existence has bordered on extinction a few times but each and every time, the roster has undergone the necessary infusion to carry the team forward.
Perhaps as notable as the club’s on-field stability, the LakerNation is noted (particularly from within its own ranks) as a collection of goofballs, odd characters, hippies, and completely rippable collection of characters.
Today, the Lakers still maintain a core of veterans led by manager Matt Soltvedt who handles the on-field decisions and of course GM Paul Samanant, Clark “Bubbles” Boyeson, Merrill (to the dark side and back), BenKuhlman, Erickson, Mountain, and KPK, although each year brings some losses as well – 2012 sees the departure of Case, DubT for the second time and Muellerleille hanging them up for likely good.
While the team retains Southwest connections (Nick Kuhlman is latest rising SW star), the Macalester run may have come to an end. This has been apparently replaced by new incoming core of players from Eden Prairie – Sam Gotham, Lucas Skjefte, Timmy Miller represent the beginning of the Eden Prairie pipeline which continues to churn out promising young players. As those three players become vets in their own right, the club becomes even younger by the year as players that Paul coached from TBall hit the college ranks. Barring unforeseen events, the team appears poised to start a run in the coming decade.
2014 Update: The Lakeshow turns purple. Two events transpired that changed the look of the Lakers. Merrill's return slammed the door on any current Macalester player coming back to the Lakers. The other event occurred a long time ago as Nick Reichert went to and graduated from St. Thomas. First Reichert brought Hogan who bucked a major trend by eschewing heavy mandate for Tommies to play for the Pirates. In 2014, the floodgates open as the Lakers sign some of the best who have played for purple: Tommy Dancyk, Ben Podobinski, Kris Edwards, and Matt Schuld give the Lakeshow a huge boost in talent and pitching.