(Above) Michael Keeran gives a pep talk to a Clear Lake player during a State Baseball quarterfinal game. -Reporter file photo
Baseball has been a part of Michael Keeran’s life for most of his 23 years. This year he’s taking it to a new level and inviting the Clear Lake community to come along.
This year the former Clear Lake High School standout who went on to star on the diamond at Waldorf College, serve as an assistant coach on three CLHS State championship teams, and become the first CLHS graduate to play post-college ball, will serve as the head coach of the Albert Lea Lakers. The Lakers are a collegiate baseball team giving college baseball players the opportunity to work on their game.
This will actually be Keeran’s second year at the Laker’s helm. He considers it the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for his ultimate goal— to become a head coach for a four-year program in the Midwest.
“I have coached since my first year in college and I love it,” said Keeran. “This past summer I played in Missouri and had some overseas offers to play, but I chose to stay in the U.S. and coach.”
His time playing outfield and pitching with the semi-pro Ozark Generals helped him to continue to build his resume, as well as make connections with others in the sport.
He credits his high school coach, Seth Thompson, with serving as his coaching role model. “He’s my mentor because of the success he has had and how he carries himself on and off the field. He gets the most out of his players, does his due diligence and stresses work ethic with a long term plan in mind. He’s very consistent and always looking ahead. That’s why he is so successful.”
Keeran says he continues to remain in contact with Thompson, bouncing ideas and strategies off each other, even during the off-season. This year Thompson will have one more reason to offer his insight. Another former Lion will be on the field— Michael’s brother, Mitchell.
“One of my duties since I was hired in October was to put together a roster of 25 players,” he explained. With no returning players from the inaugural season, Keenan was working from scratch to sign about half pitchers and half position players to the Lakers.
“I started by looking in my own household and got my brother, Mitchell, as an outfielder. He was my team of one for a while - but a good team of one.”
Michael coached his brother as a high school player and witnessed his success with the Lions, as well as his current team, the Waldorf Warriors. Other Waldorf players have also signed on and Keeran’s connections nationwide, especially in California, Nebraska and Texas, have helped to fill the lineup.
The teams’ 36-game schedule, followed by playoffs, will begin May 31 and conclude in August. The home opener at Hayek Field is June 1.
Families host Lakers players and the city supports the effort with the hope that playing in Albert Lea for one summer could motivate team members to return to the area. The Lakers baseball team finished its inaugural season in Albert Lea with a 11-19 regular season record, good for fifth place in the Pioneer League.