Montgomery brothers continue family tradition for Grand Forks Blues
Growing up in Grand Forks in the 1970s, Tom Montgomery would get to the ballpark early in the morning.
He’d ask around to see what teams needed an extra guy. It usually resulted in playing all day.
Tom learned baseball from his older brothers and his dad Robert, who played a little with the Grand Forks Chiefs minor league baseball team.
Tom still comes to Kraft Field quite a bit now, but this time he’s not asking into other games. He’s watching a third generation of Montgomerys play ball in Grand Forks.
Tom’s sons Dane and Drew play shortstop and second base for the Grand Forks Blues Junior American Legion team, which opens the North Dakota Class A tournament today at Kraft Field.
The Blues, the No. 3 seed, play the Bismarck Reps at 8 p.m.
The Montgomerys have a long history of baseball in Grand Forks. Tom was a Hall of Fame baseball player at UND. He’s UND’s all-time leader in stolen bases for a career (72), and he holds all-time Top 10 career marks in batting average (.356), RBI (123), home runs (25) and runs scored (123). He went on to a successful fastpitch softball career in which he medaled with Team USA in international events.
Tom’s brothers Bob and Mike were on Grand Forks’ 1967 Legion team that was the first from North Dakota to advance to the World Series.
Tom’s oldest two sons, Logan and Brock, also played key roles as they went through the Grand Forks Legion program.
Dane, 15, and Drew, 14, are now the latest Montgomerys to join the family tradition.
“Baseball is a big part of our family,” Drew said. “We all played it.”
Dane is batting a team-high .484, and he leads the team in runs (39), hits (44), triples (5) and home runs (3). Drew, in his first season playing above the Babe Ruth level, is batting .349, with 32 runs scored and 26 RBI.
“They’re just so intelligent when it comes to knowing the game,” Grand Forks Blues coach Matt Palmiscno said. “They’ll pick up a swing on a hitter in the first inning and adjust later in the game. I don’t have to worry about those two spots, and they’re key spots, too.”
A little like dad, Dane and Drew are ballpark fixtures. They were batboys on teams for their older brothers and these days they umpire youth games.
“They were throwing a ball right out of the shoot,” Tom said. “It’s part of the normal family every day. We still go out and play catch together. Baseball has always been part of our family.”
The Blues enter the state tournament with a 22-14 record. The tournament kicks off with games between Casselton and Beulah at 10:30 a.m., followed by Minot and Kindred at 12:30 p.m., and Park River and the Bismarck Caps at 4:30 p.m.
“We just have to show up and eliminate the errors and keep hitting the ball well,” Dane said.Blues leaders
Hitting -- Dane Montgomery .484, 9 2Bs, 5 3Bs, 3 HRs, Parker Monette .425, 11 2Bs, 36 runs, Parker Stroh .384, 8 2Bs, 27 RBI, Peyton Lotysz .360, 9 2Bs, 29 RBI, Drew Montgomery .349, 9 2Bs, 26 RBI, Joey Grabanski .346, 24 RBI, 12 2Bs, Brody Sorenson .341, 7 2Bs, Zach Vodden .298.
Pitching -- Zach Carolin 5-2, 3.62 ERA, 46.1 IP, 33 Ks, Parker Stroh 3-2, 2.93 ERA, 23 Ks, 31 IP, Brady Sorenson 4-3, 5.46 ERA, 16 Ks, 32 IP