There is a lot of uncertainty and animosity surrounding Minor League Baseball right now.
There are 42 teams facing it directly after being noted by Major League Baseball that they are one of the teams to be cut in a proposed realignment plan. The Clinton LumberKings – along with two other Midwest League teams – are on that list.
For that reason, I felt it was important to start sharing some of our local stories that live and breathe in NelsonCorp Stadium, surrounding one specific topic: What do the minor leagues mean to you.
We need to remember two things. One – we still have a concrete and guaranteed 2020 season that the LumberKings staff is preparing for. Don’t forget that one of the biggest things you can do for the club is buy tickets, go to games, and continue to make memories.
Two – we have a wonderful baseball team and infinite memories and relationships that have been formed because of it. We need to remember the positives, and remember that we have a voice in that we can share those positives.
That’s the goal of the LumberKing Loyals story series is to share those stories from our fans, board members, staff and more. If you have a story, memory or special connection to NelsonCorp Field or to the Clinton LumberKings, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can find a time to talk and share your story.
Here is Tyler Oehmen’s story:
Growing up in St. Louis almost makes you a born baseball fan. Tyler Oehmen is one of those.
He grew up watching the St. Louis Cardinals, attending Major League Baseball games, living and breathing the game.
That hasn’t changed in the last few years after moving out of the city. Instead of watching the Cardinals, though, Oehmen has transitioned into the minor leagues.
Not that it was something he was planning on. On his way to his interview an interview in 2014, Oehmen was navigating the streets of Clinton, Iowa looking for the towering lights of a baseball stadium. He eventually found his way and walked into NelsonCorp Field.
That was his first ever experience with minor league baseball.
“My first minor league game with affiliated ball was here,” Oehmen said, gesturing to the front office of NelsonCorp Field where he’s been for the last five years. “I was coming to interview, it was game day.”
Oehmen has served the front office staff since his internship, moving to the Director of Operations role and taking on many duties around the stadium.
That’s left him with countless experiences and memories. Oehmen is known for his workday attire – always in shorts running around, no matter the temperature. He’s not always the easiest to track down, working in concessions, the office, the clubhouse and even serving as the grounds crew at times.
He’s been able to see two championship appearances with the LumberKings as well, including the 2019 run. Oehmen, who had seen some independent baseball around St. Louis before, says that there’s something special when it comes playoff time in the Midwest League.
“Here, because the fans actually pay attention to baseball, they know what time of year it is,” Oehmen said. “The stadium gets louder as we go along and people know it’s go time.”
One of his favorite memories from his time in Clinton came from a random game. The LumberKings had a double header scheduled, and watched the first game go an impressive 18 innings.
That left Oehmen and the rest of the staff scrambling – talking to the umpires and the managers, keeping concessions going and getting ready for Game 2. That’s a full 25 innings of work.
“It was just being here all night,” Oehmen recalled. “It was so obscure and one day that I definitely remember.”
Oehmen won’t be joining the LumberKings for Opening Day in 2020, moving on in life and career to Minnesota to join his fiance.
That’s not to say that minor league baseball hasn’t earned a special place in his heart.
“The community of minor league baseball has grown on me in the sense that there are just so many people willing to work to make this better,” Oehmen said. “All the fans have a passion for baseball I can really relate to.”
Even if he’s no longer working in baseball for the time being, it’s become a part of who he is. From the moment he searched the Clinton riverfront for the stadium to stepping into his first minor league game to the end of his career with the LumberKings, it’s been an adventure he’s proud of.
“I’ve been such a baseball guy. Growing up in St. Louis, baseball is like a religion,” Oehmen said. “The chance to work at a baseball stadium every day, that alone is something I can’t get over still to this day.”