Win-E-Mac baseball coach Lee Tradewell will retire after more than 730 games

Tradewell went to state with Win-E-Mac twice in the high school season and once with the American Legion program.

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Head Legion baseball coach Lee Tradewell watches his team at bat from the Win-E-Mac dugout during a road game against Crookston Post 20 at Jim Karn Field on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The Win-E-Mac American Legion baseball program played in a pair of tight, low-scoring games last week.

It's the kind of defensive baseball that'll make it tough for Win-E-Mac coach Lee Tradewell to step away.

"I don't think you hang in there that long if you didn't enjoy it," Tradewell said. "(Wednesday) night makes you think about staying in it. We were in really good ones the last two nights. That's the baseball I love. That's what's fun."


After coaching Win-E-Mac for 736 games -- he's got the scoring books from all the games to prove it -- Tradewell has decided this season will be his last.

"It has been a lot of summers and a lot of summer nights, and it's just time to let someone else give it a shot," Tradewell said.

Tradewell has coached the legion program since 1998. He was head coach of Win-E-Mac High School from 2001 to 2015. Win-E-Mac didn't have the numbers to field a team in 2011, so Tradewell helped with the Babe Ruth program that summer. The town also didn't have a season last summer due to COVID-19.

"Seeing all the kids grow up and some have boys playing now and that's pretty net," Tradewell said. "You build a lot of relationships for a lifetime. I have kids coming up to me -- and they're not kids anymore -- from those 2000 to 2006 teams when we were really competitive. Those guys come up and talk all the time and want to talk baseball."

Tradwell led Win-E-Mac to Minnesota state high school tournaments in 2002 and 2003, finishing runner-up in 2003. He took the Legion program to state in 2004.

Those early-2000s teams were led by Eric Hoffmann, who was the Minnesota Class A Player of the Year in 2003.

Hoffman's return to the Win-E-Mac Legion program in 2004, after playing his freshman college season, sparked the state run.

"Going to state in Legion is tough with only two divisions," Tradewell said. "We had a really good team that year. If we gave up one or two, that was all we were giving up."


In addition to Hoffman returning, Red Lake Falls couldn't field a team that season and Win-E-Mac took on the extra players.

"You didn't have to worry about who was pitching every night because we had five of them," Tradewell said.

Tradewell coached both of his sons to all-state selections. Matt Tradewell was all-state in 2001 and Zac Tradewell was all-state in 2015. Both Matt and Zac lost in section championship games during their senior seasons.

Tradewell coached two NCAA Division I baseball players in Hoffman (Northern Iowa) and Aaron Cook (UND).

Lee, a 58-year-old who lives just outside of Erskine, Minn., says he'll remember those section title games and the playoff games during the state-tournament runs.

"From 2000 to 2005, we were either in the section championship or went to state every year," Tradewell said. "The playoffs are so intense. You live on every pitch. I'll never forget those memories."

Win-E-Mac has one remaining regular-season game remaining this season before the sub-district schedule begins.


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Win-E-Mac Legion baseball head coach Lee Tradewell (center right) is all smiles as his team comes off the field in the middle innings of a road game against Crookston Post 20 at Jim Karn Field on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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