Velasquez, a single parent who's put four kids through East Richfield's baseball program while studying at North Hennepin Technical College to be a tool and die maker, claims the city would be much more responsive if MAC's runway were taking over a park in West Richfield. "There's more money in West Richfield," he says. "Over here we're just blue-collar, working-class folks. So we get snubbed. Then those same politicians will bitch that our kids are out on the street causing trouble." (Mayor Kirsch, a GOP endorsee, says claims of a citywide caste system, while commonplace among east siders, are more about perception than reality.)
Truth be told, the boosters like Velasquez might not mind being snubbed by the city--as long as they had a place to play. "Right now, we can maintain our own fields and do what we want with them," Millette says. "When the city starts dictating things, if they actually get their act together and find these kids somewhere to play, then it all becomes about money and schedules and that's when the problems start. That's when kids get turned away because they can't afford a glove or there isn't enough room on the team. And I'll tell you something, once that starts happening, the city council is really going to get sick of seeing my face."
Soon, the only things flying over East Richfield will be airplanes
As Millette talks, a group of parents from Mankato are cheering their team to victory. This is the last weekend they'll spend at this ballpark, and they're taking full advantage. One mother is razzing her outfielder son who, each time an airplane starts its landing approach, turns his back to the game, blocks the sun with his glove, and gazes into the sky.
"C'mon Stevie," the mother shouts, laughing. "Get your head in the game. There will be plenty of time to watch the airplanes later. Get your head in the game.