Denfeld's State Trip Brings Back Memories For 1950 State Champ

Created: June 12, 2019 09:15 PM

Duluth, Minn. - It is state week for Minnesota prep baseball teams with South Ridge, Duluth Marshall and Duluth Denfeld representing the Northland. Each has quarterfinal games on Thursday and for Denfeld, it has been quite a 'state wait.'

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The Hunters last trip to state was 1954, but in 1950, Jim Hill was a junior third baseman on their squad that won it all. He later went onto play football at UMD. There wasn't a Bulldog baseball team back then.

Now 86, he still keeps tabs on the Denfeld baseball team even helped send them off to state on Wednesday. In his playing days, Wade Stadium was natural grass. In 1950, the State Tournament was in Detroit Lakes and on their way home after winning the title, it was announced the Korean War was happening. One of his teammates was in the Marine Reserves and had to leave right away. Also in 1950, it was a rough spring in Duluth. Opponents in the postseason played many, from 20 to 30 ballgames. The Hunters had only played a handful of games before the playoffs.

"The weather was the worst I've experienced in the city of Duluth," said Hill. "We were in the gym, day-after-day-after-day, practicing and hitting ground balls and fielding ground balls and we were fortunate that we went as far as we did."

Denfeld defeated Buffalo 6-5 for the title.

This year's Hunters will play top-seeded Monticello on Thursday at 10 a.m. in the State AAA Quarterfinals at the University of Minnesota.

"I'd like to see them (Denfeld) come back with the trophy and if they play good ball, I think they can do that."

Hill and his wife have six kids, 16 grandkids and 11 great-grandkids. He worked for Franklin Foods and retired in 1990.

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