On the golf course, at the ballpark or in the arena ... if Fred Roufs was there, you usually knew it.
On Tuesday, the Mankato area, and much of the state, lost a great friend and supporter when Roufs, 73, passed away. He was a tireless ambassador for amateur baseball and true supporter of Minnesota State athletics, being inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
He will be missed by so many people across the state sports scene, especially here and in Marshall. He was inducted into the Marshall Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019 after spending several years coaching and serving on the board of directors there.
It was a tough last month for Roufs, who had suffered with COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome before finally passing away at a rehabilitation facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. There was much confidence among his friends that if anyone could overcome the challenges, Freddy would be that guy.
Roufs served on the Minnesota Baseball Association board for 26 years and became the MBA’s president in May. He was a major force behind putting together last summer’s season and state tournament, developing health and safety protocols during the pandemic that weren’t universally popular. He knew it would be tough, and there would be plenty of hurdles, but he worked tirelessly so that athletes would have a chance to play the sport they loved.
He’ll be greatly missed at Minnesota State, where he was a booster of every sport. You see a lot of people who attend the football, basketball and/or hockey games, but Roufs would also make his way to wrestling, baseball and the other sports, wearing his purple Mavericks cap. There was a moment of silence in Roufs’ honor before Thursday’s wrestling match at Minnesota State.
Personally, he was just a good person, always willing and eager to talk at length about local sports.
On the golf course, he was a character, always talking a better game than he played. He contorted with every swing, sending the golf ball toward the hole with more hope than precision.
But afterward he was all laughs and self-deprecating jokes.
We used to play together in a golf tournament at Le Sueur, his hometown. It would take him twice as long to play because he’d need to catch up with old friends on the course and reminisce about those good, old times. People sought him out to catch up, certain he knew a little something about everybody.
If Roufs met you, he never forgot you. If he hadn’t met you, well ... there’s no time like to present to get acquainted.
He might not always agree with you, but he’d always listen. And he was so passionate about his beliefs, it was tough not to consider his position, at the very least.
There are so few people as engaged in the local sports scene as Roufs was. There aren’t many that leave such a large hole in a state and community.
Summer baseball in the area will never be the same. Minnesota State athletics will never be the same. The Mankato Golf Club will never be the same.
Mankato lost a great supporter of local sports on Tuesday. It’s still hard to believe.
Chad Courrier is the Free Press sports editor. He’s at 507-344-6353, email@example.com or on Twitter @ChadCourrier.