Take me out to the Ball Game

By | November 13, 2020

Baseball, in Minneapolis, has a fascinating history – affecting many aspects of life – commercial and residential real estate development, parking, traffic patterns, public transportation, and last but not least, the relationship between citizens of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

As a baseball fan for 80+ years and a loyal Minneapolitan for 90 years, I have so many baseball memories that I am going to mention them chronologically (Webster says “in order of time of occurrence “) – but my comments will be in reverse order – today’s Minnesota Twins go back many decades to the most exciting Minneapolis Millers.

Target Field – perhaps the best baseball venue in all of major-league baseball. The Pohlad family has exhibited enormous patience and has, with great public financial support, certainly stepped up to the plate financially and delivered a “grand slam home run”. Restrooms are really adequate, food offerings are outstanding, the view of the city is spectacular, parking in the public and private parking facilities is convenient, public transportation is available nearby – and pedestrians have nearby access to outstanding liquid and chewy refreshments. The baseball team, provides excitement, even during Covid, and are very professional and well coached. However, they need to win the “7th game”- almost 30 years ago!

The Metrodome – built  “on the cheap” (I think between $50 and $100 million). Balls never come down, snow (so rare  in Minnesota!) caves in the roof, where to park – great tailgating, entry/exit doors hard on the young and elderly.  No green, no sun, no rain delays, no prevailing wind problems.
Playing baseball in the Metrodome required much patience by players, an advantage for the local teams. Lighting varied in places, balls were often lost in the gray background of the ceiling or never came down when gobbled up in the lighting paraphernalia. However, our team quickly adapted and brought about success – twice!

Who can or would like to forget:

  • In 1987, one of our all-time favorites, Kirby Puckett, approaching second base “there will be a game tomorrow”
  • In 1991 – current broadcaster and Iron Man Jack Morris insisting on pitching and finishing and winning game seven – 1–0.

The Metrodome was a special place!

Metropolitan Stadium was built for the purpose of luring a major league baseball team to the Minneapolis area. Concurrently, as part of of the Twin City rivalry, persons interested in a major league team located in St. Paul, constructed Midway Stadium.

Metropolitan Stadium – not very memorable except 1) located in Bloomington, not Minneapolis; 2) convenient, cheap, adjacent parking; 3) 1965 World Series. Twins versus LA Dodgers; Remember Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison. Remember Sandy Koufax -the great LA pitcher – unbeatable (only stopped by the Jewish holiday – Yom Kippur); The Twins lost a very exciting series!

Nicollet Park – before Metropolitan Stadium and during the Nicollet Park era there were several efforts to bring major league baseball to Minnesota-focusing on Minneapolis. The two principal examples: – the New York Giants (before they moved to San Francisco) Horace Stoneham, the owner of the Giants, spent considerable time and money considering a Minneapolis location for the Giants. The Giants even purchased land in the vicinity of the present Highway 100 and interstate 394 interchange. Washington Senators – concurrently with the search being conducted by the Giants, Calvin Griffith, the owner of the Senators was considering the twin cities. Griffith’s efforts were successful and the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins – moving into the new Metropolitan Stadium.
Nicollet Park was located at the corner of Nicollet and Lake Street (now a Wells Fargo bank location) – the home of the Minneapolis Millers and the gathering place for Minneapolis baseball fans (Remember Babe Barna or Willie Mays?).  The enemy of the Minneapolis fans were the residents from across the river – Saint Paul Saints fans who protected their fortress -Lexington Park, located on University Avenue – at Lexington, in Saint Paul. The rivalry between the two teams – and two cities was fierce!!
Every Memorial day and Fourth of July holiday featured a doubleheader between the Minneapolis Millers and Saint Paul Saints. The first game was played in Minneapolis and then the crowds boarded the Selby-Lake Street car and headed for the second game, in Saint Paul, at Lexington Park.  

This was before autos replaced street cars and street car tokens cost 2 for $.15. Of course a few stragglers stopped at the Presidents Café which held the only legal liquor license south of downtown. The rivalry between Minneapolis and Saint Paul centered around baseball but was clearly evident throughout all life in the Twin Cities. Whoever named the “Minnesota Twins” was a neutral genius and should be credited with the somewhat compatible relationship currently existing between Saint Paulites and Minneapolitans. 

Image Sources:

Thornley, S. (n.d.). Minneapolis Millers. Retrieved December 13, 2020, from https://stewthornley.net/millers.html

Https://bleacherleaguesports.com/product/1951-minneapolis-millers-road-jersey/. (n.d.).