Mowing in Milroy: Saints Field groundskeeper Cole Flick helps Yankees transform field for state tournament

MILROY – Fans traveling to the tiny town of Milroy, MN for the amateur state baseball tournament might not have known it, but they were treated to yet another Cole Flick creation.
Flick, a DC phys ed teacher and baseball coach, is also the head groundskeeper at Saints Field in Dassel. Over the years, but especially with the advent of social media, his sharp and crisp mowing patterns at the ball park have gained him a measure of status and notoriety in the groundskeeping/turf management world.
So it was only natural that Flick’s name was mentioned when the Milroy Yankees began asking around for groundskeeping help and advice after learning just a month before the state tournament that they would be one of the two Class C hosts (along with Springfield).
Originally, New Ulm was slated to be a host field, along with Springfield. But on July 24, the New Ulm city council voted to withdraw from hosting, leaving the Minnesota Baseball Association (MBA) board scrambling to find a second host site. They chose Yankee Stadium in Milroy (population 252), 13 miles east of Marshall.
Pat Dolan, the Milroy Baseball Association Director who has been with the team since the late 1960s, explained that the MBA gave him Flick’s name as someone who might be able to lend his expertise in getting the field ready for the tournament, which began Aug. 21.
Dolan said Flick showed up to the field four days after they contacted him, a little over two weeks before the start of the tournament.
“He walked out on the field and looked over the grass, and said, ‘You’ve got good grass. This is gonna work good,’” Dolan said. “That was a relief. Then he asked if we had a real mower, which we did, and he said, ‘well, this is going to work out great.’”
Flick drew up a pattern that could be easily adjusted for three different patterns, one for each weekend of the tournament.
“I thought he was just going to show us the pattern, and that would be that,” Dolan said. “But nope, he sat down on our mower for an hour and a half and did the whole pattern.”
Dolan said Flick gave the Yankees some instructions on how to maintain the turf, and said he would show up in a few days to check on the progress.
“He came down again, a two hour drive, and did the mowing again. And again. Then, he showed up during the state tournament and mowed again,” Dolan said. “Not only that, he helped us do other things on the field, working the mound, home plate, the sprinklers … he helped us all weekend.
“Then he came down during the week [before the second weekend of the state  tournament] and did it all again.”
All told, Flick had made the two-hour trip to Milroy eight times in a span of just over two weeks when this article was written on Tuesday. He planned to go down there again for the final weekend of the tournament this weekend.
The kicker, said Dolan, was that Flick refused any sort of compensation for his help.
“He’s just a crazy nice guy,” he said. “I just can’t say enough good things about him, he’s been tremendously enjoyable to have around.”
To top it all off, the field looks better than it ever has, said Dolan. Many players and fans have remarked on the field’s pattern.
“We’ve had great reviews,” he said. “It’s been unbelievable, the things he did. We were just really fortunate to have his help, especially on such short notice.”
An amateur baseball sensation
Flick’s work on Saints Field has drawn rave reviews for years.
His designs wowed visiting fans in 2005, 2016 and 2019, when the DC Saints hosted the state tournament. In 2006 he won the State High School League Coaches Association Field of the Year/Groundskeeper of the Year award, and in 2016-19 he has been a top-six finalist in the Allett Mowers “Creative Stripes Contest.”
It’s only been in within the last decade, however, that his work started gaining real notoriety and attention, due to social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and the like, along with being featured on Fox 9, Fox Sports North, and in Todd Mueller’s book Town Ball Parks of Minnesota
Flick, who joined the DC Saints in 1996, said he really didn’t get too involved on the field until 1998, when the Saints requested that they take over management of the field from the city of Dassel.
In the early 2000s, Flick remembers working on the field for a high school baseball playoff game that featured Paynesville and another team.
“I mowed it with some really crisp lines. It wasn’t anything special but it was nice,” he said. “I remember listening to the Paynesville kids oohing and aahing about how it looked.’”
It was in 2005, when Saints Field hosted their first state tournament, where he made a big splash, debuting the now-famous “Sunray” pattern.
His work and expertise has led to him being in demand for ball clubs throughout Minnesota looking to spruce up their field.
In fact, on one of his mowing trips, it was actually his third ball field stop of the day, out of what would be four. He started in Springfield to offer assistance there, stopped by the Wabasso ball field to talk with the Athletic Director about improvements they could make in the fall, stopped by Milroy to mow Yankee Field, and ended up at Saints Field to meet with two grounds crew members from Waconia.
His love for ball park fields even infected his son Gus, who is in his second year at Southwest Tech in Sioux Falls, SD, working towards a degree in turf and grass management.
“I guess my passion is baseball field maintenance. I’ve gotten to know so many other groundskeepers, some from small towns like ours, Milroy for example,” said Flick. “I’ve had help and advice from others that work professionally in the turf grass industry.
“It’s like a brotherhood where we all want to see each other succeed,” he continued. “I still have a lot to learn, but if I could offer help to others I’m more than happy to do so.”

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