When Todd Schmidtke told his wife, Denise, he wouldn't be returning for his 15th year to manage the Blue Earth Pirates, she didn't believe him.
"Baseball has been such a major part of my life," Schmidtke says. "Now that I think of it, if I were her, I wouldn't have believed me either. But it's true."
Schmidtke first started with the Pirates in 2000 as a player/manager, but stepped aside because he wanted the younger kids to play.
"It wasn't that hard because I had a son," he explains. "You have to let the younger guys play."
Schmidtke believes he has left his Pirates with the necessary skills and acknowledged they don't need his management anymore.
"We have several great guys who have grown up to be great men and fathers," Schmidtke says. "I am positive they will be fine and do great."
The Pirates now former coach wants to spend more time with his family and do things he hasn't had the opportunity to do.
Schmidtke gives his wife a lot of credit, too.
"My life is constant baseball, baseball and more baseball," he says. "She has always been supportive and that can be hard sometimes because we (the Pirates) were playing 30-40 games per season. It took a fair amount of time away because managing is a lot of work."
Besides being the Pirates manager, Schmidtke has been the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers baseball, middle school basketball and football coach for 29 years.
"It is hard to walk away from the Pirates, but I'm OK," he explains. "Everyone has a hobby or something they are good at, and I will always love coaching baseball."
Schmidtke's son T.J. recently thought about walking away from the Pirates and Schmidtke didn't want his son to leave.
"I thought he was quitting because of me," Schmidtke says. "I coached him when he was in little league, high school and with the Pirates. I'm glad he decided to stick with it."
Back in 2000, Schmidtke and his friend John Stallman renamed the amateur league Blue Earth Merchants squad to the Pirates.
"John and I were playing in Minnesota Lake and both of our sons were in high school at the time," he says. "We didn't want to play against them so we came to play at Blue Earth. Since BEA is the Bucs, we both thought Pirates were similar to Buccaneers."
One of the best memories Schmidtke has of the Pirates was when they won the State Championships in 2004 and 2006.
"Every starter from those teams ended up playing college baseball," Schmidtke says. "It was great and a lot of fun."
Schmidtke's father will be the first one to tell you his son was one of the best baseball players he has seen.
"I was a coach for 35 years and I coached Todd in high school," Howard Schmidtke says. "He was our best pitcher and I always felt comfortable we would win when he was on the mound."
According to Howard Schmidtke, his son was 10-0 his senior year with an 0.34 earned run average. His St. James baseball team won the State Championship in 1979.
"Every chance I get I come and see the Pirates and the Buccaneers," Howard Schmidtke says. "It was so enjoyable to watch my son play and now I enjoy watching him coach these younger kids in high school."
Taking over for the Pirates is Lee Hodges.
Hodges is currently the BEA B-squad baseball coach. He was a reliever for Mankato State University in college.
"Todd has done a great job with the Pirates," Hodges says. "He is a laid back guy who wants to get the best out of you. Todd really knows his baseball and was an excellent fit for the Pirates."
Hodges was a part of Schmidtke's three high school State Tournament teams in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Schmidtke will still be involved with baseball, however.
"I will be starting a Community Education program called Blast Ball," he says. "It will be for three, four and five year-olds. Blast Ball is a scaled down T-ball game."
Blast Ball will be every Tuesday and Thursday in June for one hour.
"I'm ready and I don't think twice about leaving the Pirates," Schmidtke says. "I know they are in good hands with Lee. It would be different if I wasn't positive about leaving the team in good hands. Plus, my grandsons will keep me plenty busy."