A Todd Park fixture

Published 9:49 am Friday, May 29, 2009

When high school softball tournament time begins, there are few places better than Austin’s Todd Park.

Just after the middle of May, a host of teams descend on the park’s north and south complexes when the city hosts the West Sub Section 1A, Section 1A, Section 1AA and Section 1AAA tournaments.

Players and fans alike come to the city with logical expectation of a smoothly flowing tournament and welcoming atmosphere.

Email newsletter signup

They can also expect Ralph Dahl.

Ralph and his wife, Donna, are common faces at Todd Park, whether it be keeping book and announcing games for the Austin Packers or helping out with the various tournaments.

Ralph, however, has been a familiar face in area softball for awhile now.

“I’ve played softball for years and years,” Dahl said.

Counted among those years was time spent playing softball while in the army on a base team and in Albert Lea. He was also an assistant coach for some time with the Austin Packers.

In fact, in 1987 — when as assistant coach on the B-team under Steve Knox and head coach Al Eckmann — the Packers defeated St. Cloud Apollo in 19 innings. It was a game Dahl said is his best memory of high school softball.

“It really was a pitcher’s dual,” he said.

Dahl has been keeping book specifically at section tournaments for 18 years.

“I like softball; it keeps me involved with the kids a little,” Ralph said during Austin’s most recent game against Farmington in the Section 1AAA tournament. “You get to see a variety of different teams; teams from the suburbs you don’t see that often.”

Dahl goes about his job quietly, with very little in the way of fanfare, but he certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed during his time.

“Ralph is a good guy to be with,” Austin’s head coach Steve Knox said. “He’s very interested in our sport, and he’s a good guy to have around the game.”

And it isn’t something Dahl intends to give up.

“As long as I’m around,” Dahl said with a smile.