The state American Legion baseball tournament is no stranger to Bemidji.
But its trips to the state have come far less frequently than they have for Bemidji High which played in its 19th state meet this spring.
This marked only the fourth time that Bemidji has made both state meets the same year, following previous trips in 1970, 73 and 74.
The majority of the high school trips came in the single class system in the state that ended in 1972.
While the Jacks were an annual favorite in the small school Region 8, the Legion was always in the elongated District 6 which stretched from Baudette to St. Cloud and included many of the top teams in the state including Brainerd and the St. Cloud teams.
Reaching the state was a far harder task.
Bemidji has contended well at the state taking a 14-15 record into play against Lino Lakes, a Centennial High School squad.
It will be the third trip under Mike Fogelson, completing his ninth season at the helm.
That is a string exceeded only by the 11 years under Whitey Anderson from 1976-86 plus two more as co-coach with Joe Ryan in 87-88.
The first Bemidji trip came in 1955 under Bun Fortier when Bemidji fell to St. Paul in its lone start at St. Paul's Lexington Stadium in a mound duel between Corky Johnson and Dick Siebert Jr., son of the long-time Minnesota University baseball coach.
Both went on to play with the U. and later into pro ball where Johnson reached triple A at Vancouver in the Giants system before arm problems ended his career.
Bemidji made three state trips in a five year period in the 1970's under three different coaches.
Richie Glas., now Concordia College basketball coach, took the 1970 team south and went 1-2 to cap a 23-7 season.
Wayne Horgen was at the helm in 1973 when the Legion also went 1-2 in a 19-4 campaign .
The most notable season came in 1974 with Jerry Ginter in control.
That followed a first and fifth place finish at the high school state meet.
Bemidji dropped its opening game that year, then won five straight games in the losers' bracket before being stopped by St. Paul Attucks-Brooks with Paul Molitor coming out of the bullpen in the final inning to quell the final Bemidji rally.
The depth of the Bemidji team astounded the Twin Cities sports writers with Ginter, who also pitched professionally, using six different starters in the seven games and having a seventh set to pitch the final had Bemidji forced the second final game.
Pete Maus, an under classman on that squad, won MVP honors after playing five or six different positions during the week including pitching and catching. The team ended 26-4.
It was 11 years before Bemidji returned to the state, this time under Anderson, and went 1-2.
It was another 16 before Stan Drew, member of the 1974 team, guided the 2001 squad back to the state. That team finished 3-2 in a 30-9 season.
They went 20-9 in 2003 when they ended 1-2 at the state and 20-9 in 2006, their last state trip. When they ended 23-14.
They carry a 26-4 mark to this year's state, needing five wins to break the all-time single season record set in 2001 under Drew and tied in 2007 under Fogelson in 2007, a team that bowed out at the district meet.
Year State Season Coach
1955 0-1 7-3 Fortier
1970 1-2 23-7 Glas
1973 1-2 19-4 Horgen
1974 5-2 26-4 Ginter
1985 1-2 22-14-1 Anderson
2001 3-2 30-9 Drew
2003 1-2 20-9 Fogelson
2006 2-2 22-14 Fogelson
2011 26-4 Fogelson