I took a short drive to Norway, (Iowa, that is) this past weekend to visit family. The plan was to relax and enjoy a summer day in the sun together, but I wanted to drive around Norway a bit before stopping. I've learned that each of these small, Midwestern towns has something unique to offer, something about their community that makes it stand out from all the other towns against the cornfield backdrops.
Some towns have museums or parks dedicated to the memory of local military veterans. There's Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah. Don't miss the Morning Star Chapel in Elk Horn. After scooping a few Norway loops, I found what I was looking for. I found the explanation behind the sign on my way into town which read: "Welcome to Norway: a great place to come home to".
There, among the white houses and green grass sat a pristine and immaculate baseball diamond. I immediately thought of the scene from Field of Dreams.
"Is this heaven?"
"No, it's Iowa."
Towering light structures stood ready to illuminate the grounds for the next scheduled Nite League game. I could see the pride the grounds crew took in their work when I looked upon the manicured infield and base paths. Signs against the outfield fence advertised for local banks, body shops, and pizza parlors. I saw a red-roofed building behind one of the dugouts that was clearly a concession stand. Like everything on the grounds, it was incredibly well kept and I found myself wondering when the next game was just so I could get a hot dog and have a seat in the bleachers to watch ball players do what they do simply for love of the game.
I was lucky enough to have stopped by at a time when the adjacent Norway Baseball Museum was open. I couldn't believe all the baseball history set before me. The collection of trophies, team photos, and old game gear reminded me of the delightful escape baseball has brought us over the years. I saw State Championship trophies polished to a high shine. I looked over the career statistics of Major Leaguers like Hal Trosky and Mike Boddicker who had early career success in Norway.
When I finished my museum tour, I realized I'd never paid admission. They ask for donations only and are grateful for anything you can contribute. As a fan of baseball history, the Norway experience was worth every bit of the ten bucks I left behind.
Image credit: Jennavandenberg.com