Hagen Field dedication set for April 15

Published 12:43 pm Monday, April 3, 2023

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DOWAGIAC — When the Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education approved the building of a new baseball field across the street from the high school in what was formerly known as Northwest Park in June of 2021, there was little doubt whose name should be on it.

After more than a year and a half, the new facility is ready for baseball, and on Saturday, April 15, the field will be dedicated and Dowagiac’s all-time winningest coach and Michigan High School Baseball Association Hall of Famer Dean Hagen’s name will be immortalized.

Hagen coached the Chieftains for 21 years and never had a losing season. His teams for nearly two decades, from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, were known throughout the state for their excellence.

Dowagiac won conference championships in 1978, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1991 and 1993. The Chieftains won the 1977 Class B district championship with a victory over Sturgis. Dowagiac would fall to Gilbrater Carlson 2-1 in the regional round of the state tournament.

The Chieftains would have to wait another 16 years before winning another district championship. Dowagiac defeated St. Joseph 18-13 in 10 innings to claim the title in Stevensville.

Throughout his tenure as the Chieftains’ head coach, Hagen had eight players drafted and played minor league baseball. He had 14 players receive full or partial college scholarships.

Dowagiac had 12 players earn first- or second-team All-State honors.

Andy Kruger was a three-time first-team all-state pick. In 1990, Kruger was one of four Chieftains to earn all-state as he was selected to the MHSBA’s Class B Dream Team. Damon Saetre was a two-time first-team all-state. Saetre was named to the 1986 Class B Dream Team. The pair went on to play collegiately at Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University, respectively. Both were drafted and played minor league baseball.

The Michigan High School Coaches Association inducted Hagen into the Hall of Fame in 1993 during a ceremony at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Hagen is also a member of the Black Hills State College Coaches Hall of Fame.

Hagen was named the National High School Baseball Region 4 Coach of the Year in 1993. He was also nominated for National Coach of the Year.

Hagen finished his career with a 482-187 overall record, which is fifth all-time in southwest Michigan. He captured his 300th and 400th career wins against long-time nemesis St. Joseph. Win No. 400 was an 8-0 shutout of the Bears in May of 1994.