Baseball legend Freer remembered through donation of scoreboard
The large scoreboard will likely be installed this spring before summer baseball seasons get underway.
WADENA — No doubt Lyle Freer kept scoreboard operators busy over the course of his long-lived baseball career.
Freer, a well known pitcher, a long-time baseball coach in Wadena and 1983 inductee into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Association Hall of Fame enjoyed baseball a lot. It’s said he loved coaching and sharing the love of baseball even more.
That love will live on with an improvement to the north little league baseball field on Franklin Avenue in Wadena, which is named for Freer. Freer’s family just donated a scoreboard to be installed there this spring. It’s a substantial donation worth over $4,700. Lyle’s last year coaching in Wadena was 2005 and he died in 2010 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
The Wadena Area Youth Baseball Program asked the City of Wadena to help with the installation of the scoreboard, which was approved during the council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 8. Wadena Area Youth Baseball will cover the cost of concrete footings, electrician fees and any maintenance cost to maintain the scoreboard going forward. This project would take place whenever this excessive amount of snow finally disappears in the spring.
The need for the scoreboard comes after the old plywood version fell apart in the summer of 2021 after 10 years of service. Previously, the sign scoring system was changed by hand. That will continue to be utilized on the Jerry Wegscheid field, which is still in good working order.
According to his obituary, Freer began his early days of baseball growing up in Isle, Minn. He eventually moved to Wadena to play for the Wadena Chiefs, after training for the Korean War.
Lyle was a starting pitcher and made his way up to semi-pro baseball when he played for the Fergus Falls Red Sox. After one year of paid ball, he returned to Wadena to make an impact on generations of baseball players. He remained there for 50 years.
Freer began coaching as early as 1957, as coach of the local American Legion team and brought that team to the state tournament in 1966, where they became District 6 Champions.
Freer coached the local VFW team, umped all local baseball games, held offices on the Wadena Baseball Board, the Minnesota State Board of Amateur Baseball, was assistant coach for the Wadena-Deer Creek high school team and volunteered for all things baseball.
Wadena Area Youth Baseball president Kyle Dykhoff said he recalls being coached by Freer for a few years. Freer’s last year volunteering in 2005 was Dykhoff’s senior year.
Dykhoff said when Freer passed away in 2010, it was just natural to name the newly constructed baseball field after him. Dykhoff recalls Freer’s commitment to the betterment of baseball in Wadena and it’s pushed him to also continue that work. He feels if not for Freer, the state of baseball would not be where it is today in Wadena.
Baseball legends of the future will continue to feel the impact of Freer and his family's generosity for many years to come.