By Mike Sticha
This continues a series of news stories, human interest pieces, or general info, all pertaining to the 2018 State Tournament host site communities.
Most fans of Minnesota amateur baseball know the usual roles needed to administer our game: players, coaches, umpires, league/region/section officers, groundskeepers, concession workers, scorekeepers, state board members, etc. But there are other roles not always at the forefront. One such role is legal counsel. At times, the Minnesota Baseball Association (MBA) will be forced to legally uphold the bylaws it has set forth to govern play. When needed, the MBA relies on the help of two professionals, both of whom reside and practice law in New Prague, a host site of the 2018 state tournament.
Pat Goggins and Christopher Neisen hold roles of legal counsel for the MBA, with both practicing law at the Wornson, Goggins, Neisen, Morris & Brever firm in downtown New Prague. Both are graduates of New Prague High School and are former Dakota Rice Scott League players, so they have a great understanding of the rich history of amateur baseball. Goggins first began working with the MBA 10 years ago, and he’s since asked Neisen to assist with MBA matters, with both providing pro bono services.
The MBA State Board has been grateful to have Goggins working for them all these years.
“Pat Goggins has been a valuable resource to the MBA,” MBA Secretary/Treasurer Dave Hartmann said. “He has done a terrific job in assisting us and leading us in numerous areas within the MBA system. His diligence, and understanding the background of the MBA, both as a player and a professional resource, is invaluable to the MBA board. He continues to provide excellent leadership in the legal areas in assisting the MBA Board of Directors, and we thank him for his dedication and service to us.”
The Q&A below with Goggins helps explain more about his and Neisen’s role with the MBA:
What is your official role with the MBA?
Our firm serves as legal counsel for the MBA. We provide our services on a pro bono basis. Both myself and Chris Neisen (my law partner) have handled matters for the MBA.
What does the role entail?
We provide general legal advice on an ongoing basis, but we also step in to handle litigation matters from time to time. For instance, if a team has a player suspended due to rules violations, they (the team) could always file a lawsuit in district court asking that a judge overrule an action taken by the MBA. In those circumstances we will go to court on behalf of the MBA and argue their position.
How long have you been assisting the MBA?
Judge Michael Fahey served as legal counsel for the MBA until 2007 when he was appointed as a judge in the first judicial district. At that time, Judge Fahey asked me if I would take over his role as legal counsel. I told him I would be happy to do so.
Is it only you, or does your firm have any connection to the MBA as well?
Initially, I was the sole attorney doing work for the MBA, but eventually Chris Neisen, my law partner, stepped in to help out as well.
What is interesting about working with the MBA - why do you enjoy it?
I love working with the MBA. It isn’t that often that they ask us for help. But when they do, I feel that the work we provide for them is very important. The state of Minnesota has the best amateur baseball program in the nation. That is due in large part to the hard work of the state board. I believe when they take action to enforce their rules and bylaws, it is critical for the integrity of amateur baseball that their actions are binding and enforced. Anything we can do to ensure that happens helps to protect the game.
What is your baseball or MBA playing history?
I played outfield at St. Patrick for 14 years. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. Anything I can do to give back to amateur baseball pales in comparison to the great times I had playing ball.
Chris Neisen was a standout shortstop at Union Hill for years. I didn’t get the chance to play against him much (Chris is “quite” a bit older than me), but St. Patrick and Union Hill played in some classics over the years and we were fortunate to be a part of that.