Longtime Hastings baseball coach Mike "Doc" Louden will be honored Saturday night in Minneapolis as the winner of the Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association Jim Dimick/Retired Coaches Award.
"I don't know if I deserve it, but it is very nice to get it," Louden said. "It was kind of a surprise, but it's very nice."
Louden coached in Hastings from 1974 until 2004. He was the head coach from 1979 to 2004, when he retired. In 1999, he helped guide the Raiders to a state baseball title.
"They asked me a bunch of questions in regard to this award, and I said that (state championship) was definitely one of the highlights of my career," he said.
Other things he remembers fondly include the players he had a chance to get to know over the years.
"Really, it was just all the kids I was able to coach," he said. "We had great players and good kids. We were lucky in Hastings. We had a lot of good players, and the kids played hard. I remember that well. I also had some great assistant coaches - that was something that helped us succeed. There's no doubt about it."
Among the assistant coaches who worked with Louden were close friends Charlie Taffe, Ron Driscoll, Russ Welch and Dan Peltier.
"All those guys - they were a big part of our success," Louden said. "I'm really appreciative of the kids who played and the assistant coaches who worked with me."
Louden grew up in Cannon Falls and got his teaching and coaching start in Glenwood before moving closer to home to accept the job in Hastings in 1974.
Louden played a lot of baseball in his day, too, suiting up on a number of amateur teams and then an over-35 team that he played on until he hit 50 years old.
"We had a bunch of guys that played together for a long time," Louden said. "We'd go down to Florida and play down there once a year. We had a lot of fun doing that."
Louden also played collegiate football.
"I really do love all sports," he said. "I'm such a fan - I'm even a Gopher football fan, if you can believe that. A long suffering one. There's just something about baseball, though. As a kid, you get attached to it. My dad used to take me to go games as a kid. I was hooked, and I've been hooked ever since."
The state title
Just advancing to the state tournament in 1999 was no easy task. Hastings had Cretin-Derham Hall in its section, and they had won 66 games straight heading in to the section tournament.
Hastings won the first game, lost the second game in nine innings and then blew out C-DH in the third game to advance.
C-DH featured Joe Mauer as a sophomore catcher that season.