Burgau gets his big day as field named in his honor
MOORHEAD - Bucky Burgau stood near the pitching mound Monday afternoon surrounded by his family. The longtime Concordia baseball coach couldn't help but get emotional.
The field he was standing on was officially named Bucky Burgau Field in a dedication ceremony prior to a Concordia doubleheader against Bethel.
"It really means a lot to me," said Burgau, who is in his 36th and final season as Cobbers head coach. "It's hard to put it into words. It was very special."
The Cobbers split the two Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games with the Royals, Concordia's final home games this season. Bethel won the first game 6-4, while the Cobbers earned a 9-6 victory in the nightcap.
"I am quite proud to be part of Concordia and the MIAC," said Burgau, who will be an assistant coach for the Cobbers next season. "I was worried about it a little bit because I didn't want it to take the focus off the game."
Burgau got choked up a few times as he addressed the hundreds of fans there for the field dedication. His wife, Penny, his two daughters and their husbands, and his four grandkids all stood on the field during the ceremony.
"It really choked me up," said Jennifer Schwantz, Burgau's oldest daughter. "It was so neat to see all these people here."
Soon after he completed his remarks, Burgau was swarmed and hugged by his grandkids - Katelynn, age 9; Austin, 6; Tyden, 6; and Tate, 2.
"They love their papa. They call him 'papa' and I think all of them had a baseball glove before they were born," Schwantz said.
Austin and Tyden are bat boys for the Cobbers. Those two were also set to play their first little league games on Monday night.
"We're going right from here over to that field," Schwantz said. "It's kind of the close of one chapter and a start of a new one."
Bethel head coach Brian Raabe presented Burgau with a framed collage of photos prior to the game. Raabe called Burgau a "class act" who cared about what was best for the players, not only on his team but also the opposition.
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks president Bruce Thom along with chief executive officer Brad Thom, general manager Josh Buchholz, manager Doug Simunic and player personnel consultant Jeff Bittiger were all on the field for the dedication. Burgau has been a longtime assistant coach for the RedHawks during the summer.
"He doesn't like a lot of attention," Schwantz said. "We had to tell him, 'You deserve this.' "
Burgau won his final home game as Cobbers head coach. Concordia shortstop Phil Kuball sparked a four-run fourth inning in the second game with a two-run single.
Cobbers closer Bryce Feia got the final out to secure a 9-6 victory.
Cobbers assistant and former major leaguer Chris Coste will take over the program next season.
Burgau threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Monday with Coste being the catcher.
"It's a very meaningful day to my family and myself and the current baseball team, too," Burgau said.
The Cobbers (17-16, 9-11 MIAC) close out their season on Wednesday on the road against the University of Minnesota.
"I am 36 years old. This is dad's 36th year. So it's been my whole life," said Schwantz. "We had a big hug when we got here this morning and had a good cry."
Bethel 203 001 0-6 13 1
Concordia 020 002 0-4 4 2
Herringshaw, Hall (7) and Schultz. Meland, Wilson (7) and Carlson. W-Herringshaw (4-0). L-Meland (3-4). HR-CC, Olson (3), Gefroh (5).
Bethel 000 040 200-6 9 1
Concordia 100 412 100-9 14 3
Glenn, Peterson (5), Pederson (5), Schut (7), Pearson (9) and Anderson. Krueger, Mattson (5), Feia (8) and Domine. W-Krueger (6-2). L-Glenn (1-2). S-Feia (5).
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson's blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com