With a chilly zero degree temperature and –24 wind chill, the inaugural Twins Ice Fishing Classic still drew a crowd of several hundred to Madison Lake on Monday, and raised money for local youth sports.

Winner of the Twins Winter Caravan Ice Fishing Contest Scott Biedschiet.

Twins broadcast manager Andrew Halverson said when they began planning the event back in October they feared the weather wouldn’t cooperate. “Our concern was actually that it wouldn’t be cold enough for ice and we would have a bunch of people on the shore, unable to fish. This has definitely surpassed our expectations,” he said.

He added that the most important aspect of the event was the support of youth athletes and, “We wanted to make sure that the money goes back into the community, so nobody is making money on today, all of the money goes to the Mankato youth baseball and softball associations as well as the Mankato Miracle fields. That’s what we’re most proud about, and you can ask any of (the Twins Players), supporting baseball, supporting the game that we love is why we are here.”

Twins relief pitcher Alan Busenitz is a native of Georgia, and it was his first time ice fishing. He said, “It was fun for about five minutes, and then I lost feeling in my toes and I haven’t gotten it back yet. I actually put the hand warmers in my shoes.” Even with the cold, he said that supporting youth sports is a worthy cause because, “That was the time I had some of the most fun of my life; traveling around and playing with all of my buddies. I actually played with the same group of guys from the time I was nine until I was about 18. It’s definitely a lot of fun, very important.”

Scott Wojcik with the Miracle League says turnout was great and he was, “Surprised by how many people are out there fishing and volunteers walking around. Everyone seems to ha having a great time even though it’s cold out.”

Mankato Area Youth Baseball Association (MAYBA) General Manager Alan Keifer says the event also gave local youth players a chance to mingle with the pros. “We’ve got two Hall of Famers here, Jack Morris and Paul Molitor, and for these young guys they’re too young to know about them from playing days, but they still know. It’s kind of cool to have the young players out here also, especially for our kids. It’s great,” he said.

The ice fishing event was the first stop of the 2018 Twins Winter Caravan Tour, which runs through January 25th.