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Madison Community Rallies To Restore Beloved, Storm-Damaged Ballpark

MADISON, Minn. (WCCO) -- The storms from a couple weeks ago damaged farms and cities across western Minnesota. And in one small town, the heart of the community was nearly destroyed.

In Madison, that's Memorial Field, where baseball is everything.

"They would have a thousand people. They would come and park their cars by the fence on a Saturday night so they had a great viewing place," said Dick Newman, former player and coach.

In this town of 1,600, baseball brings people together. It's been that way for decades.

"I've spent a lot of hours down here. I tell my wife that she doesn't have to know where I'm at, just go down to the ballpark," said Bart Hill.

Hill has played, coached and taken care of Madison Memorial Field. But today, he doesn't recognize the ballpark that's become his second home, all because of a spring storm.

"I'm not going to lie, the next morning I came down and it was a beautiful, sunny day like today, and I sat on a bucket in the infield, and I shed a tear," said Hill.

Madison Memorial Field
(credit: CBS)

The storm destroyed a good portion of the outfield fence, took down four, 80-foot light towers, and ripped the roofs off of both dugouts.

"It really is, it's pretty heartbreaking in that we lost a lot of things down here," said Hill.

It's estimated there could be as much as $600,000 worth of damage. A field that brought business to Madison by hosting high school, Legion and amateur games, will be vacant this summer. But already, the community is stepping up. That includes sixth-graders at nearby Lac Qui Parle Valley, who held a bake sale.

"I got an email last week from one of the teachers that said they want to donate their profits to the baseball field. That's pretty touching," said Hill.

And it may be just the beginning. On the field or off it, people here plan to win back what was lost.

"People in rural America just roll up their sleeves and they help everybody out," said Newman.

"Those small towns, as you know, baseball is one of the life bloods," said Hill.

Nearby communities like Rosen and Dawson have already stepped up to allow Madison's baseball teams to use their fields.

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