Eyes on Magnuson

Jake Magnuson’s first catching experience with the Minot Vistas American Legion baseball team is one the Bishop Ryan graduate won’t soon forget.

It came two years ago when older brother Ben Magnuson took the mound for the final time in his Vistas career at Corbett Field. It was the first time Jake had ever caught for his brother, whose 20 career victories are sixth-most in Vistas history.

“That was an awesome experience,” Jake Magnuson said. “I knew he won a lot of games, but you really understand how good he was when you’re catching for him. That was just a really fun experience for me.”

Now, Magnuson has gone from the backup catcher to the leader behind the plate. In seven games this year, Magnuson has 26 putouts and no errors. He threw out his first baserunner Tuesday against Moorhead (Minn.), catching Zach Schroeder attempting to steal second in the fifth inning.

“His personality is that of a leader,” Minot coach Todd Larson said. “In that catching position you have to be a leader. He’s done a great job with our pitchers – calling games and talking with pitchers in between innings. He’s a very positive young man. He comes to the ballpark whether he’s in the lineup or not in the lineup cheering on his teammates and trying to make them better.”

Magnuson splits time with Braden Lach behind the plate. Magnuson catches the first game doubleheaders while Lach takes over in the finale.

The leadership role is one Magnuson doesn’t shy away from. Instead, he embraces it.

“I like being in command,” Magnuson said. “There’s eight guys looking in and you’re looking out. It’s a leadership spot. You have to let people know what to do and what’s going on. You’re in control of the game. Over the years I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with it.

“Being vocal is very important. If you have all eight guys on one page, it’s a really beautiful thing.”

Magnuson is one of three players on the roster that doesn’t attend or hasn’t graduated from Minot High. He was a three-sport athlete at Ryan, where he played football, basketball and baseball. Larson said the fact Magnuson doesn’t play for the Magicians during the school year or plays in a different class is a non-issue.

“They’ve all played together all the way up from the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth leagues,” Larson said. “They know each other from that. Baseball’s baseball. We don’t look at it as Class A or Class B. He’s a very good baseball player all around.”

While excelling behind the plate, Magnuson got off to a slow start in the batter’s box. He went the first four games without a hit before breaking through with a single against Beulah on June 10. In three non-league games, Magnuson is hitting .333.

There’s more to Magnuson than just baseball. Last year, he missed more than two weeks to take a pilgrimage to Rome with his high school. While in Rome, Magnuson said he visited Catholic churches and the Trevi fountain among others.

“That was a great experience,” Magnuson said. “It was a long trip and I missed a lot of baseball. That part of it wasn’t good, but the trip itself was outstanding. The coach was OK with it and the guys welcomed me back.”

The Vistas are happy to have him for the full season this year as they look to make some headway in the league standings. Minot hosts Williston on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Corbett Field.

Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and racing during the summer. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.