Extra, extra

Our sports department just put the finishing touches on the Messenger’s 2012 college football preview edition, which will be released into circulation this Friday.

The book is finally closed on a frantic seven weeks of special sections for our staff. Tabs featuring city golf, state softball, the Olympics, prep football and now college football have covered nearly 200 pages of copy since mid-July alone. A lot of late nights – or should I say early mornings – skipped meals and time away from family went into each project, so we hope area readers continue to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

The college publication breaks down upcoming seasons at Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake, with visits to each Iowa Conference program as well. We made stops at all 21 area programs for the 80-page high school edition, which named and pictured over 300 Messengerland athletes.

The weather may not indicate as much, but the fall season is here and in full swing. Everyone will get their fix of prep and college action this Labor Day weekend. Whether you’re rooting for the Dodgers, Gaels, Tritons, an area school, the Hawkeyes, Cyclones, Panthers, Bulldogs or anything in between, we’ll do our best to keep you updated daily – all season long.

FABRIC OF FORT DODGE BASEBALL: Unfortunately, the aforementioned hectic schedule kept us from publishing two stories certainly worthy of recognition.

This summer marked Keith Martin’s 50th season of coaching youth baseball in Fort Dodge. Donning vintage Citizens Community Credit Union red attire, Martin was honored at Patterson Field in June for five full decades of leadership and direction from the dugout.

If you played baseball here growing up, you know Keith well. His teams – and more specifically CCCU – captured countless league championships through the years, standing strong as the envy of rivals that have come and gone.

Think of the local players and games this man has seen from the summer before President Kennedy was assassinated through today. I know Keith’s not big on fanfare, but his story is one to tell. Martin’s name is definitely on the short list of baseball mainstays in our community.

Speaking of which, the highlight of my summer was watching my 7-year-old son play his first game at Patterson Field. It was enough of a privilege to see Evan’s team conclude its season on hallowed local baseball ground, but Jerry Patterson even took the time to announce every player’s name before their at-bat and personalize the entire experience.

To hear Evan’s name bellowed through the Patterson Field speakers was something I will never forget. Thank you, Jerry, for introducing Fort Dodge’s players of tomorrow to your world. Like countless families before us, we now have that special generational bond through your ballpark.

I’ve always said that Fort Dodge is a baseball town at heart. People like Keith Martin and Jerry Patterson are living proof of that, annually connecting the traditions of yesteryear to our future relationship with the sport. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at sports@messengernews.net