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WHAT'S IN A NAME: Ball fields honor pioneer of Bemidji youth baseball

Mark Evenson was a central part of youth baseball in Bemidji before the dedication of the Mark Evenson Memorial Fields that now bear his name.

Mark Evenson Field.jpg
Bemidji's youth baseball fields along Middle School Road honor the late Mark Evenson, who played an integral role in getting the complex built.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Editor's note: This is part of a 20-story series titled "What's in a name?" completed by Pioneer reporters for our 2022 Annual Report. Read more of the section by clicking the embed at the bottom of this article.

Mark Evenson was a central part of youth baseball in Bemidji before the dedication of the Mark Evenson Memorial Fields that now bear his name.

He played an integral role in getting those youth fields built, and when he died in February 1995 of a heart attack at the age of 41, he was an obvious choice to be the fields’ namesake.

“Mark was very instrumental,” said Moe Webb, also a longtime advocate of youth baseball in Bemidji. “He was a push behind it, I would say. We didn't have a president or anything, but he (was something like that). And they got it done. We got it done.”

The six-field Bemidji Youth League baseball complex was officially dedicated in his name on July 10, 1996.

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Mark Evenson.jpg
Mark Evenson.
Contributed

But Evenson’s legacy stretches beyond just the construction of the fields — he’s also remembered for his dedication to the young players themselves.

“Mark, he just loved kids,” Webb said. “We had one year, after the Twins won the World Series, when we had 12 teams in each league. I mean, it just blew up. And that was a year when we said we were going to have to cut kids (because) we don't have enough sponsors. We don't have enough coaches.

“And we ended up cutting some kids, and Mark said, ‘No, no, we're not going to do that. I'm going to take those kids. I'm going to make a team. I'll get a sponsor for them, uniforms and everything.’”

And Evenson went out and did just that.

“They weren't very good,” Webb added, “but they won a game or two and the kids had fun playing ball. And we were happy they did.”

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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