Dave Ellefson compares his retirement from Home Talent League baseball to one of the more pivotal scenes in the movie “Field of Dreams” where a young player named Moonlight Graham walks off Ray Kinsella’s homemade diamond in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, and returns to his life as an elderly modern-day doctor – played by Burt Lancaster – to save the life of a choking girl.
At 34, Ellefson is far from being as old as Lancaster was in the film, but he said he feels old after 17 years with the McFarland Muskies.
“It’s time to begin a new chapter in my life,” Ellefson said. “This team is in a good situation. There is a good core of guys here.”
The longtime second baseman played his final game Sunday, a 5-2 win over Waterloo in the first game of a doubleheader. After that, he stayed on to root for his teammates, who beat Waterloo again, 12-2.
Ellefson lettered in soccer and basketball at McFarland High School, but baseball was always his first love.
“My mother said I probably played 30 years of organized baseball. There are pictures of me in diapers playing ball,” he said.
After high school, Ellefson joined the Muskies. He still remembers his first game.
“I doubled off the right center field fence at Fort Atkinson in a Thursday night game,” he said. “It was against an old lefty double my age who smoked between innings.”
Soon, Ellefson became one of the Muskies most important players and a solid leader from his position at second base. Team manager Justin Hanson said Ellefson’s departure will be a huge loss.
“Losing Dave is going to be tough for this team,” Hanson said. “He’s the biggest morale booster and the center of the team.”
Ellefson was on the Muskies in 2010 when the team advanced to the Home Talent League final four. The Muskies couldn’t capture the league title as they lost two of three games, including one to eventual champion Verona. Still, Ellefson said it was one of the biggest thrills of his playing career.
“That was a blast,” Ellefson said. “We were real close to winning it all. If a few bounces went our way, it could have been a different story. We had a lot of fun, and a lot of people came out to watch our games.”
Ellefson, who is employed at Baker Tilly, a tax audit firm on Madison’s east side, said he plans to spend more time in the summer with his parents who live in northern Wisconsin and with his wife, Mary, who has tolerated his longtime fascination with baseball. The two recently purchased a house.
“I’ll do whatever my wife tells me,” Ellefson said. “She’s a saint. She is probably the most patient person on this planet.”