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The 2012 SABR convention (June 27-July 1) will feature a tour of former Twin Cities ballpark sites (Athletic Park, a block away from the convention hotel, and a bus tour to Nicollet Park in Minneapolis, Lexington Park and The Pillbox in St. Paul, and Metropolitan Stadium in suburban Bloomington). Here are links to handouts with information on these and other ballparks:


By Stew Thornley

Holy Cow! Do we have a great event coming up in 2012. SABR 42 will be back in Minneapolis, 24 years after a convention that is still remembered fondly by those who attended. The Halsey Hall Chapter of SABR will be hosting the event (and, in case you weren't aware, Halsey Hall was using Holy Cow! as his trademark expression long before those imitators in St. Louis and New York), and the chapter has been busy for many years planning for a great time.

Target field When SABR last came here, the group saw a game at the Metrodome. Now the venue will be Target Field, on the other side of downtown Minneapolis.

Other events:

  • Various panels, including ones with executives, former players, and official scorers.
  • A special session with a slideshow of various Minnesota professional and amateur ballparks.
  • A Women in Baseball panel, possibly with former players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
  • A presentation on baseball memorabilia by Minnesota Twins curator Clyde Doepner.
  • A session and display on black baseball in Minnesota, hosted by Frank White, a longtime Minnesota sports official whose dad played on black teams in the state.
  • A one-man show about Branch Rickey.
  • A tour of the Minneapolis Central Library (for both the architecture and resources) hosted by principal librarian Connie Hill Minneapolis skyline
The convention will be in downtown Minneapolis, and light-rail service makes it easy and cheap to get from the airport and hotel.

Mall of America A suburban attraction for many visitors is a shopping center known by several names, including MegaMall, Mall of America, Sprawl of America, and the shopping center on steroids. Baseball fans will appreciate that this was the site of Metropolitan Stadium, and we will have a tour of this and two other ballpark sites: Nicollet Park and Lexington Park. If it works, the tour will include Lakewood Cemetery and the gravesites of many baseball players and personalities as well as a great view of Lake Calhoun (see below). Those wanting to go to the megamall on their own can easily do so on the light rail.

The Twin Cities has a lot of other attractions, including:

  • Mississippi River The Mississippi River: The downtown side has the Mill City Museum, which highlights the citys history as a milling center. On the other side are restaurants and watering holes along historic Main Street. Either side of the river is great for a walk. You can cross the river on the Stone Arch Bridge (a former railroad bridge now used for bicycles and pedestrians also the site of a 1996 wedding between two SABR members) and come back on the suspension bridge, the site of the first permanent crossing of the Mississippi River. Along that route, stop off on Nicollet Island, one of the citys treasures.
  • Lake Harriet The city's jewels: Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake. The lakes, with trails for biking, running, and walking, are connected. A complete circuit is 12 miles although they can be enjoyed individually. The lakes arent far from downtown although probably a little too far to walk, but not to run. We have a member who has volunteered to organize a run, and others have volunteered to drive people down and around the lakes. Bike rentals are available, too (check out https://www.niceridemn.org).
  • Guthrie Theather Art museums and theaters: The Guthrie Theater on the river, the Walker Art Center on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts are among the biggies. St. Paul has some notable attractions, as well, including the Minnesota History Center, the capitol, and Landmark Center.
If you have a few extra days, consider a drive to Duluth (150 miles from the Twin Cities) and beyond. Duluth is a great city in the summer. Make your reservations early for hotels in the Canal Park area and maybe take in a Northwoods League game at historic Wade Stadium. Continue on the North Shore Highway for another hour and youll experience a pair of tunnels burrowed through the bluffs, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Gooseberry Falls along with an unbeatable view of Lake Superior the entire way. Keep going, and youll wind up in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Summer in Minnesota is usually pleasant, and the weather can't be any hotter than it was in 1988. But the convention will be. You betcha.

Weekly SABR 42 Updates and Shameless Promotions

Additional Updates:

October 8, 2011

The 2012 Society for American Baseball Research 42nd annual convention will be at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Minneapolis next summer, starting Wednesday, June 27, 2011 and ending on either Saturday, June 30 or Sunday, July 1.  Here is an update:

The Halsey Hall Chapter has had a committee in place since before the it even became official that the convention would be in Minneapolis.  The members include Jerry Janzen (overseeing financial issues), Art Mugalian (in charge of apparel, goody bag, selection of all-region team, leader of ballpark sites tour), Dan Levitt (editor of the convention publication), Kevin Hennessy (liaison with Twins, on-site hotel liaison during the convention), Rich Arpi (lining up a night at the St. Paul Saints game), Brenda Himrich (organizer of the historic bus trip for a trolley ride and Lakewood Cemetery tour), and Howard Luloff (on-site volunteer coordinator).

Any SABR members willing to help during the convention may contact Howard (952-922-5036).  Howard will be supervising the greeters, registration helpers, and moderators during the convention.  We will also need some drivers for a Wednesday night event in St. Paul (and drivers need not be SABR members; however, to be a part of the local convention group, you will have to be a SABR member and registered for the convention).

The group will attend the Twins-Royals game on Friday night.  A trip to a St. Paul Saints game will be offered Saturday night.  Also planned for the convention:

  • Research and poster presentations (someone from SABR will issue a Call for Papers for those wanting to submit an abstract to present at the convention).
  • Awards Lunch.  Tentatively the keynote speaker is Bert Blyleven.
  • Various panels: former players, executives, official scorers.
  • Saturday morning tours: one will go to former ballpark sites in the Twin Cities; the other will go to Lake Harriet for a trolley ride between Lakes Harriet and Calhoun and then to a tour of baseball graves in Lakewood Cemetery.
  • A tour of the downtown Minneapolis Central Library.
  • A tour of the baseball exhibit at the Minnesota African American Museum.
  • Target Field tour.
  • Wednesday night author event and a reception at the home and Victorian museum of chapter member Seth C. “Dr. Fan” Hawkins.  (These are separate, not concurrent events, so members will have to choose which one to attend.)
  • Committee meetings, SABR business meeting.
  • Vendors room and memorabilia room with a presentation by Twins curator Clyde Doepner.
  • Trivia.
  • One-man show about Branch Rickey by Chuck Chalberg.

Deb Jayne from the SABR office will be coming to Minneapolis the weekend prior to Thanksgiving and will be at the meeting of the local convention committee on November 20.

Stew Thornley

March 17, 2012

Tentative schedule:
  • Wednesday, June 27:
    From noon to 2 pm will be a tour of the Minneapolis Library, which is a few blocks away from the hotel. This will include some of the baseball resources available there. At 2:15, people will leave for a tour of downtown and a tour of the Metrodome, former home of the Twins. Stew Thornley and Brenda Himrich will lead this, taking people through the skyways of downtown Minneapolis and coming back through the milling district along the river. People can head straight back from the Metrodome if they want, or walk along the river. They can cross the river along the Stone Arch Bridge (where folks have been known to get married) and eat or drink someplace along the east bank on historic Main Street. That afternoon/night will be the research chairs' meeting, chapter leaders' meeting, and an author event at the downtown Barnes & Noble. After that is the First-Timers reception (open to everyone) at the hotel.
  • Thursday, June 28:
    Research presentations, committee meetings, business meeting in the morning, vendors room, memorabilia room, a showing of Twin Cities ballparks from 1 to 2, and a Women in Baseball Panel from 4:45 to 6:15. That night will be the trivia preliminaries, Fan Graphs, or a trip to the baseball exhibit at the newly opened Minnesota African American Museum.
  • Friday, June 29:
    In addition to research presentations, and committee meetings, will be an executives panel in the morning followed by the awards lunch. The Twins-Royals game is that night.
  • Saturday, June 30:
    In the morning will be the players panel, the afternoon will feature an official scorer panel, and a ballparks site tour will be in between. Also the donors' breakfast will be in the morning. That night will be a one-man show on Branch Rickey, and the trivia finals.
  • Sunday, July 1:
    Committee meetings, possibly other activities; stay tuned.

March 20, 2012

This is the first in a series of weekly updates on SABR 42 (June 27 to July 1 at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center) that will contain some fun fact about the area you’ll be visiting.  This week’s fun fact is that the world’s alleged largest ball of twine is in Darwin, about 60 miles west of Minneapolis.  (Don’t worry.  The facts will get even funner.)

The convention update includes a summary of events, such as a tour of the Minneapolis library, tour of the Metrodome and walking tour of downtown Minneapolis, authors event, and First Timers reception (even for those of you who aren’t First Timers) on Wednesday; a Target Field tour, ballparks slide show, panel on women in baseball, trivia preliminaries, Fan Graphs event, and trip to the baseball exhibit at the Minnesota African American Museum on Thursday; an executives panel, awards lunch, and Royals-Twins ballgame on Friday; a ballpark run (to the Metrodome and back or, for those who can handle more, to the Mary Tyler Moore house and back), players panel, tour of former ballpark sites, official scorers panel, trivia semi-finals and finals, and one-man show about Branch Rickey on Saturday; and more but we haven’t figured out what yet on Sunday.  (My mom might be there to see the players panel, and, if she is, say “Happy Birthday” to her.)

Mixed in amid all this will be the usual research presentations, committee meetings, vendors room, memorabilia room, poster presentations, copious drinking with some people even staying up after 11 p.m., and an array of folks wearing baseball caps and bermuda shorts with black socks.  (A note to you hound dogs: don’t put the moves on our Halsey Hall Chapter president, Brenda Himrich; she’s married to a very grouchy guy.)

The convention site also includes links to a one-page handout and longer booklet with pictures and information on the former ballpark sites.

So far Bob “Rocky” Johnson has committed to the Saturday players panel.  Rocky grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, an affluent burb where the well-mannered high-school students, when their team is trailing, chant, “That’s all right, that’s okay, you will work for us someday!”  Rocky played with several teams during an 11-year career in the majors from 1960 to 1970.  He once had six straight pinch hits, led his league in pinch hits three times, and finished his career with a pinch-hitting batting average of .272 and an overall batting average of .272.  He wonders how rare that is, and I’m sure someone from our group will be able to tell him.  Rocky also hit the first home run in D. C. Stadium in front of JFK, LBJ, and OLF.  (OLF is Orville L. Freeman, a former Minnesota governor and, at the time, Secretary of Agriculture.  A building named after him, the Orville L. Freeman Building, now occupies the site of the Pillbox, which is on the ballpark tour.  I also work in the OLF Building in my day job.  The lobby area of the building is temporarily closed because a wall panel from the third floor fell off and landed in the lobby last Saturday, sort of a similar problem that we occasionally have with the bridges in our state.)

Rocky is featured in the SABR book, Minnesotans in Baseball, and you can read all about him at:


Stay tuned next week for information about the world’s largest fake fish in Minnesota or something else.


March 27, 2012

Those of you flying to SABR 42 in Minneapolis (Wednesday, June 27 to Sunday, June 1) will have a rare chance to see what was a hot tourist attraction a few years ago even though it’s now losing a bit of its luster: the toilet stall in which Idaho senator Larry “Wide Stance” Craig was arrested in 2007 for toe-tapping a guy in an adjacent stall when his two-step was interpreted as a mating call (with the toe-tapee being an undercover cop on a stakeout--now there’s a guy with an interesting office).  I guess I should amend that brief opening sentence to “Some of you” instead of “Those of you” because some others of you could risk arrest by visting this since it’s in an area for males only.  The site became a major attraction for a while with visitors asking airport employees where it all went down.  You don’t have to ask because I’ll tell you (we’re very service-oriented at the Halsey Hall Chapter).  It happened in the men’s room in the main concourse of the airport, the concourse with all the shops and food courts and the most luxurious restrooms, which even have a few of those no-touch sinks that actually turn on when you wave your hands in front of the sensor long enough.  RoadsideAmerica.com claims that Larry was in the second stall from the right, although a Google image shows it as the far right stall, so, to be safe, you should take a picture of both. 

With this business out of the way, you’ll be set to head downtown for the convention, which is open to everyone regardless of gender, unlike the Craig Throne.  Get on the light-rail at the airport (you may have to ask someone how to get to that although there are more signs pointing people to light rail than there are to the Craig site) and head for Minneapolis.  If you go the wrong direction, you’ll end up at this overbloated shopping center.  You can get off there if you want to see the plaque marking the spot of home plate of Met Stadium, which is in the amusement park area in the center of the shopping center.  There is another seat worth seeing, the one supposedly marking the spot of Harmon Killebrew’s second-deck home run off Lew Burdette on June 3, 1967 (which, coincidentally, was also the same day of the birth of my now-dead dog, Chip, who was not named after Chipper Jones).  Unfortunately, the seat marking this site doesn’t resemble the bench seat that Harmon hit (they might as well just have thrown up a toilet seat), and I’m sure it’s not the exact spot; they just attached this cheesy stadium seat on a wall in a convenient spot.  But it’s still worth checking out.  You can also see all this if you take the Ballparks Site tour on Saturday.

If you get on the light rail in the correct direction, you’ll be in downtown Minneapolis within a half-hour.  You’ll see the Metrodome and two stops beyond that, get off at Nicollet Mall.  You’ll be at 5th Street.  Walk up the mall (which will have a farmers’ market going on Thursday) two blocks to 7th, turn right, and you’ll be at the Marriott City Center in another block and a half.  We plan to have some greeters there to direct SABR conventioneers (and our greeters are trained to be able to pick out the SABR members from other visitors) to the hotel registration on 5th floor and the convention registration area on the 4th floor.

In SABR 42 Update and Shameless Promotion I, I gave a complete rundown of events and noted that Bob “Rocky” Johnson has agreed to be on the Saturday morning player panel (which is not at the same time as the ballpark site tour, so people can do both).  Another former player has agreed to be on the panel, although it’s tentative since he has to check his Fox Sports North announcing schedule.  Tim Laudner is a local lad who played for the Twins in the 1980s.  He was born in Iowa and grew up in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb.  He pitched in high school and took the Park Center Pirates to the state tournament before switching to the outfield and catcher in college at Missouri.  He came up with the Twins late in the 1981 season and homered in his first game (and his second game).  He played with the Twins through 1989 before retiring during spring training in 1990.  He was the starting catcher on the 1987 championship team and made the All-Star team in 1988.

His BioProject bio is at:


More next week.


April 3, 2012

Last week air travelers got all they needed to know about what to see and how to get to SABR 42 (June 27-July 1 at the Minneapolis City Center Marriott).  This week the train folks will learn how to get to the action.  Unlike the airport, there are no historic sites in the train depot (I’m told there is no credence to the rumor that Kim Kardashian slapped Kris Humphries in the depot’s women’s room).  The Amtrak station is in the midway area of St. Paul, a suburb of Minneapolis.  You’ll come out on Transfer Road and walk a half-block to your right to get to University Avenue.  There is a lot of construction for a new light-rail station there.  Unfortunately, this line won’t be open for another two years, so you’ll have to take the bus, which will stop one block to the west at Vandalia.

Take the 16 bus.  The fare is $1.75 (exact amount needed; you can use two one-dollar bills but won’t get change) and $2.00 during rush hour (6-9 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m. weekdays).  After you enter Minneapolis, you’ll go by the University of Minnesota and the football stadium and Williams Arena, where the basketball team plays, and, after dodging more light-rail construction, will eventually cross the Mississippi River and come through downtown Minneapolis on 4th Street.  Get off at Nicollet Mall and walk up the mall to 7th.  Turn right before you get to the Mary Tyler Moore statue and walk a block or so to the hotel.  Easy peasy.

Those with some extra time but no car can take the bus to some of the city’s top lakes.  Catch a 17 bus (anything but 17A) at Nicollet Mall.  The bus will cut over to Hennepin Avenue on 24th Street, turn again on Lagoon Avenue, merge with Lake Street, and go between Lake Calhoun (on the left) and Lake of the Isles (on the right).  You can get off anywhere if you want to walk around, but stay on the bus to the west end of Calhoun if you want to get a bike.  There is a Nice Ride station on the south side of Lake Street just to the west of W. Calhoun Boulevard (and across the street from the Calhoun Beach Club, which, as the former home of WTCN-TV, used to have the Saturday night television wrestling matches with Verne Gagne, Mad Dog Vachon, Baron Von Raschke, George “Scrap Iron” Gadaski, Dr. X, Pretty Boy Larry Hennig, Handsome Harley Race, Rene Goulet, and The Man Who Made Milwaukee Famous, The Crusher, back in the days when fake wrestling was more genuine).  Information on bike rental rates and other locations is at https://www.niceridemn.org.

Remember, it’s Nice Ride, not Cool Ride, and though they are pretty nice to ride, the bikes aren’t too snazzy if you’re hoping to impress people (and we know how concerned SABR members are about looking cool).  However, if you can still find one of those Mr. Microphones that were advertised on late-night TV a few years or decades ago, then, when you ride by the volleyball area on the southwest side of Lake Calhoun, you can announce,  “Hey there, good lookin’, We’ll be back to pick you up later.”

Lake Calhoun is about 3 miles around as is Lake Harriet, which is to the southeast, and Lake of the Isles is a little less than that.  There are bike paths around all the lakes and a bike trail from Lake of the Isles to Calhoun.  To get from Calhoun to Harriet, you will have to cross a street and then take a little cramped bike trail.  They’re all really nice.  There are big boards with maps of the lakes around everywhere, and, if you’re really up for riding, you can include a circuit of Cedar Lake (which supposedly has a nude beach although I’ve never been able to find it) to the west of Lake of the Isles.  If you go west from Lake of the Isles on 21st Streeet to Kenwood Boulevard, you’ll see the house was used in the Mary Tyler Moore Show until the owner, fed up with people breaking in every time the house’s address was put in the newspaper, hung out an “Impeach Nixon” sign when CBS showed up to film exterior shots for the next season.

Another side trip, a few blocks east on 36th Street from Lake Calhoun, will take you to Lakewood Cemetery.  Lakewood and Wrigley Field are my two favorite places on the planet, and my wife and fellow SABR member, Brenda Himrich, and I have a plot there (Section 34, Row 3B, Grave 3).  Although we’re not yet in it, our marker has our names on it, and we were able to pose by it for our holiday card photo in 2003 (http://stewthornley.net/holidaynewsletters#2003).  It’s only about 1 x 2 feet because it’s a cremation plot (you’d have to tamp down pretty hard to get a whole body in there), but it’s the only lakeside property we own so we’re kind of proud of it.  Please stop by and say hi.

There aren’t any Hall of Famers in Lakewood Cemetery, but there are a lot of baseball players, including Spencer Harris, Buzz Arlett, Elmer Foster, Mike Kelley, Bobby Marshall, Sherry Robertson, Paul Giel, and Dick Siebert.  Next to former Twins owner Carl Pohlad are Paul and Sheila Wellstone and their daughter, Marcia Markuson, who were killed in a plane crash in 2002 when Paul Wellstone was campaigning for re-election to the U. S. Senate.  Another former senator, and vice president, Hubert Humphrey, is buried at the other end of Lakewood Cemetery, which also has more dead Minnesota governors than any other cemetery. 

Tiny Tim is inside Lakewood’s mausoleum, and so is my grandma.  Regardless of the people there, Lakewood is really scenic with some interesting markers and monuments, and the Byzantine Chapel, where we had my dad’s funeral 25 years ago, is worth a visit.  I think Lakewood is a big reason I like cemeteries in general so much.  I’ll have copies of maps of Lakewood at the convention.  Bring your GPS unit because I’ll try to include coordinates for the graves on the map we’ll give out.

Back at the hotel, all sorts of stuff will be going on, and we now have David Vincent, Gregg Wong, and one of the future Lakewood Cemetery occupants confirmed for the official scorers panel on Saturday afternoon, and Diamondbacks official scorer Rodney Johnson will be on it if he can get away from the Arizona League and make it to the convention.

Also, Roy Smalley has agreed to be on the Saturday morning player panel, along with Bob “Rocky” Johnson and, tentatively, Tim Laudner.  Roy III was the son of Roy Jr., who played with the Cubs and other teams (as well as for his brother-in-law, Gene Mauch, with the Minneapolis Millers) and nephew of Gene Mauch.  Roy III played on two championship teams at the University of Southern California and signed with the Texas Rangers, having been picked first in the 1974 amateur draft.  He came to the Minnesota Twins in 1976 along with Mike Cubbage, Bill Singer, and Jim Gideon in a trade for Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson.  Roy hit 24 home runs in 1979 and was on the All-Star team.  He was traded to New York in 1982 and, a little over a month later, came back to the Metrodome and struck out into a triple play against the Twins.  Roy came back to the Twins in 1985 and finished his major league career in the World Series in 1987, which the Twins won.

There’s a lot more, but I don’t want you to get too excited in one update.  More next week.


April 9, 2012

Drink a lot of water when you’re in Minneapolis this summer for SABR 42 (June 27 to July 1 at the Minneapolis City Center Marriott).  It’s good stuff.  And don’t buy bottled water.  It’s much trendier these days to get a reusable bottle, fill it from the tap, and carry that around.  For SABR members on the cutting edge, trendy is important.

Fiji bottles are out.  Tap water is in.  Remember that and live it.  A few years ago Fiji tried to tried to diss Cleveland and its water.  Cleveland responded by testing its tap water and comparing it to Fiji.  It found that Fiji bottled water had 6.3 parts per billion of arsenic in it.  Cleveland’s was arsenic-free.

And so it is with Minneapolis’s water.  In recent years, Minnesota has ranked number-one in compliance with U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking-water standards through the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. 

Minneapolis gets its water from the Mississippi River a few miles upstream from downtown and runs it through a sophisticated treatment process, which now involves membrane filtration.

On a baseball note, the Twins and Target Field conserve city water as they recycle rain water that falls on the field and lower grandstand and reuse it for irrigation and the cleaning of the stands. 

When the new ballpark opened, the Twins decided to use the high-profile nature of Target Field to promote other good things, such as sustainablity.  They chose water as the focus of sustainability because this is the Land of 10,000 Lakes (not to mention a lot of good water under the ground, too). 

The rainwater and irrigation water within the collection area percolates through Target Field’s underground drainage system and travels through a 12-foot-diameter culvert, which runs under the warning track in the outfield, to a wet well beyond the outfield fence in left-center field.  There it goes through an ultra-filtration system.

This system is so innovative that Alexandra Cousteau (Jacques’s granddaughter) included Target Field on her International Blue Planet’s 100-day, 1,450-mile expedition in 2010.  The link below will take you to a story about Target Field’s water system and includes a couple pictures of Cousteau, who is pretty hot (Alexandra, not Jacques):


In last week’s update, I included information on baseball graves worth visiting at Lakewood Cemetery.  Lakewood has an interesting water history of its own.  Read about it here:


The story doesn’t contain photos of any hot people, just dead ones (and one live one who really isn’t too hot).

For those going to Lakewood Cemetery, I have put a couple more links on our Halsey Hall Chapter convention site with a list of baseball graves and a map of Lakewood Cemetery with the sites of the graves marked:


The list of graves also include longitude and latitude, so if you bring a GPS unit, you’ll be able to find them easily.

The convention page also has links to a one-pager and a booklet with information and pictures of former ballparks in the Twin Cities.  Some of these will be included in the Ballparks Sites bus tour on Saturday.  More on that next week.


April 18, 2012

SABR 42 (June 27 to July 1 at the Minneapolis City Center Marriott) will include a three-hour tour led by Art Mugalian, who, unlike Gilligan and the Skipper, will guarantee at least a 70 percent chance of getting everyone back safely.  The Saturday tour will go to former ballpark sites in the Twin Cities.

On Thursday will be a slide show of these and other local ballparks, a warmup for those going on the tour and an edifying experience for those who aren’t.  Also, there are pdfs of a one-page fact sheet and booklet on these ballparks at the Halsey Hall Chapter convention site.

The bus trip will not start with Athletic Park, used by the Minneapolis Millers from 1889 to 1896, since it is only a block from the Marriott and anyone can walk over and see it on her own.  This bandbox, where Perry Werden hit 36 of his 45 home runs in 1895, is now occupied by Butler Square, a former warehouse converted into trendy businesses and the Alley Sports Tavern, formerly Smalley’s ‘87 Club.  This is a good place for dinner or lunch.  Be sure and roam around and see big pictures on the wall of Minneapolis from a long time ago.  One picture is of Athletic Park.

The bus will first go to a Wells Fargo bank, off Nicollet Avenue and Lake Street, which was the site of Nicollet Park from 1896 to 1955.  Joe Hauser hit 50 of his 69 home runs there in 1933.  Ted Williams played for the Millers in 1938 and won the first American Association triple crown that year (although some revisionist historians have attempted to anoint a couple other crown recipients by retroactively adjusting the minimum qualifications needed to lead the league in batting average).  Willie Mays, Ray Dandridge, Rube Waddell, Roger Bresnahan, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Monte Irvin also played for the Millers at Nicollet Park.  The final game at Nicollet Park, in September 1955, was the seventh game of the Junior World Series between Minneapolis and Rochester.  The Millers won, closing Nicollet in style with their first Junior World Series championship.  A plaque, funded by former players and fans before the clowns in suits at the bank tried to hijack the project in 1983, is outside the bank, directly under the path of one of Joe Hauser’s home runs.

The bus will head for St. Paul and will get on to I-94 via a ramp that will be underneath the site of an 1884 ballpark, used by Minneapolis in the Northwestern League.  You will be able to read about this ballpark in an outstanding article by Kristin Anderson and Chris Kimball that will be in the convention publication.  You won’t be able to get out on the freeway ramp to take pictures, though.

The bus will head to Lexington Parkway, passing Snelling Avenue.  You won’t see it but to the north of the freeway on Snelling is Macalester College, whose 1906 baseball team was coached by Dick Nutt.  Beyond that is the former site of Midway Stadium, where the St. Paul Saints played from 1957 to 1960.  The St. Paul folks hoped this would also be the stadium for an incoming major league team, but that never happened, so for the next 20 years it was used for other events, such as Eddie Feigner and the King and His Court and All-Star wrestling matches.  It was here in August 1967 that the nefarious Dr. X put a foreign object in his mask (seen by everyone in the place except the referee) and headbutted the Crusher, knocking him out and causing him to be pinned.  The site of Midway Stadium is on the east side of Snelling.  It was torn down in the 1980s and replaced by a new ballpark, originally known as Municipal Stadium, on the other side of Snelling.  The name was changed to Midway Stadium after the 1993 season, which was the first season for a new St. Paul Saints team.

On Lexington Parkway is a TCF Bank, and it has a plaza marking the site of Lexington Park, used by the Saints from 1897 to 1956.  The plaza includes a marker donated by the Halsey Hall SABR Chapter, which raised money from former players and fans and had it erected in 1994 on the side of a liquor store.  When the liquor store was torn down, the erection moved to the site of the new bank, which is just beyond where the left-field fence was.

The bus will go down University, passing Dale Street.  Dale and University used to be a war zone, with a noted nudie theater on one side the street and the Belmont, a strip joint, on the other.  (I once got a beer bottle stuck on my finger at the Belmont.)  Behind the nudie theater was a ballpark used by the Western League team that started in 1895.  This ballpark was known as the Dale and Aurora Grounds and also Comiskey Park, named after the team owner, who moved the Saints to Chicago after the 1899 season.

The bus will stop by the Minnesota Department of Health (where I am the paid flak for the state’s drinking water program) and the site of the Downtown Ballpark, also known as the Pillbox.  The Saints used this from 1903 to 1909, going back to Lexington Park only on Sundays.  The St. Paul Colored Gophers also played here and hosted a series in 1909 billed as the “world’s colored championship” in which they beat the Leland Giants of Chicago.

The final stop will be a shopping center in a southern suburb.  Within this center was Metropolitan Stadium, where the Millers played from 1956 to 1960 and the Minnesota Twins played from 1981 to 1981.  The Met hosted the All-Star Game and World Series in 1965.  There is a bronze home plate supposedly marking the exact spot of the ballpark, although there is nothing to mark the spot where a drunk fan, now a reserved and dignified SABR member, climbed the foul pole and held up a game between the Twins and White Sox before 45,000 fans in June 1977.  People can return to the hotel on the bus or hang around and shop and take the light rail back to Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, there will be lots of fun going on at the hotel, including presentations by those who brought memorabilia.  Twins curator Clyde Doepner will have all sorts of fascinating stuff, including Washington Senators scorebooks from 1954 to 1960 that he recently found.  Clyde will definitely show you the scoresheets for the game in which Harmon Killebrew debuted and the one in which he made his first appearance at the plate.

It’s wild stuff.  Don’t miss it.


April 28, 2012

This Week in SABR beat me to some of the latest poop on the convention (June 27-July 1 at the Minneapolis City Center Marriott) as I’ve dealt with scoring three typically long Red Sox games and a Timberwolves game that was untypically short, which was nice because I’ve been dealing with a 102 temperature, but I can still provide some new stuff.

Tony Oliva has become a definite maybe for our players panel.  He was American League Rookie of the Year in 1964 and led the league in batting average his first two full seasons in the majors and led again in 1971.  He was having his best season ever in 1971, but he also suffered a bad knee injury in Oakland in June that year and never was the same player after that.

This Week in SABR mentioned that we will have special tours of Target Field with curator Clyde Doepner showing SABR members things that most tour-goers don’t get to see. 

Not mentioned was the Metrodome tour for early arrivers on Wednesday afternoon.  Though never charming, the Metrodome has been one of the most functional buildings ever in Minneapolis, and Twins fans have some fond memories of the place, especially with two world titles won there.  It’s also the home to the Minnesota Vikings (a football team threatening to move if they don’t get a new stadium).  The Minnesota Timberwolves played their first season in the Metrodome in 1989-90.  The Minnesota Gophers baseball team still plays lots of games there, along with a lot of other colleges and high schools, and the Gophers football team played there from 1982 to 2008.  The Gophers lost their final game in the Metrodome 55-0 to Iowa, although the big news emerged a few days later.  A woman from Iowa hooked up with a male-type, and they had sex in the toilet stall of one of the men’s rooms (there may have been alcohol involved).  Many people were outraged that they used the handicapped-stall; after all, what if an amorous couple with disabilities had wanted to tear one off at the same time?  They would have had to do it in a regular stall, which could be challenging.  The sex story spent the week on the Star Tribune website’s list of most read and most e-mailed stories.  It seemed an appropriate way for the football team to depart the Metrodome to go to a shiny new on-campus stadium, where they haven’t played any better.

Marc Appleman and Vince Gennaro were in Minneapolis a week ago to meet with the local organizing committee, go through the hotel again, and meet with Twins president Dave St. Peter and marketing vice president Patrick Klinger.  It was really productive.  The Twins are doing whatever they can to help us have a great convention.  Two-time executive of the year Terry Ryan will be on the general managers panel on Friday, June 29.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting at Target Field in a rain delay between the Twins and Royals.  I’m hoping the game won’t be banged since they’d probably make it up with a split doubleheader when the Royals are next in town, which is during our convention, and that might put a wrench in our plans (or a crimp or whatever it is).

More later.


May 2, 2012

When I left you last week, I was dealing with a 100+ temperature, the Twins and Royals were on the verge of being postponed, Rocky was on the trail of Natasha and Boris and discovered Nell Fenwick tied to some railroad tracks, Bullwinkle was cruising the seamier side of Frostbite Falls trying to get some fake I. D. so he could get into a strip joint, and the Joker had Robin and Batman locked in the trunk of a 1959 Edsel.

I’m happy to report that all has worked out well.  OK, my 100+ temperature turned out to be pneumonia and the Twins and Royals got banged with the game rescheduled for the Saturday afternoon of our convention, which required us to do some monkeying with the schedule, but Bullwinkle scored his I. D. and is having a good time.  So are Rocky and Nell.  The dynamic duo, however, is still in the trunk of the Edsel.

Before I get into convention news, let me tell you a little more about Minneapolis.  Just a few blocks from our hotel is Nicollet Island, one of my favorite places.  It’s in the Mississippi River, which separates downtown from southeast Minneapolis, which was once St. Anthony and is considered the birthplace of Minneapolis.  The south side of the island is where the Nicollet Island Inn is, along with a park and pavilion.  Most tourists spend their time here, but I recommend walking through the north end of the island, which is still residential despite an effort by the Minneapolis Park Board to take over the homes about 25 years ago.  The neighborhood has changed a lot over 100 years.  In the 1970s it was kind of Bohemian (in the sense of being socially unconventional).  My cousin and his friends occupied some of the houses along with other hippie-types, including a woman with a burro.  The city eventually evicted the burrow and the woman, because of the fight she put up, got evicted, too.  The community had a big Fourth of July party on the Fourth of July every year with a croquet tournament in a big field.  Each round of croquet took over an hour, and the four winners met for a final round and a prize of around $50, with the winner usually being determined by who was the least drunk by that time (although I won the prize one year even though I hardly qualified in the latter characteristic).  Later, after my cousin moved out, the residents were able to buy the houses for a dollar as long as they fixed them up, having to adhere to architectural standards on the exterior.  Others moved in, and it’s become a little gentrified, although it still has a Bohemian feel, minus the burro.

De La Salle High School has been on the north end of the island for more than 100 years, generally mixing in well with the residents until a fight a few years ago, won by the high school, to put in a football field.

Facing downtown from the island is a b. a. Grain Belt Beer sign, which has an historical designation.  For a while, in the late 1980s and 1990s, the sign was restored and relit, but it’s been off for a long time now, which is too bad, because it is pretty awesome when lit up.

The south end of the island has a small bridge that used to be the Broadway Avenue Bridge.  It was floated downstream from Broadway Avenue and now makes a nice vehicle and pedestrian connection to the Main Street area.  If you bring or rent a bike, the two sides of the river have some great bike paths.  The bike path on the west (downtown) side will go past Target Field and take you to the lakes (Lake of the Isles, Calhoun, Harriet, Cedar Lake) I’ve mentioned in the past updates.

The Hennepin Avenue Bridge connects downtown to the island.  The new bridge, which replaced a steel-arch bridge that had been around more than 100 years, opened in 1989.  It’s a suspension bridge, because the first two bridges on the site were suspension bridges when they became the first permanent crossings of the Mississippi River in the 1850s.  Unfortunately, the new suspension bridge is kind of boxy.  The channel it crosses is only about 600 feet, not long enough to justify a suspension bridge these days.

Minneapolis has some nice bridges although none like the great suspension bridges you see out east (meaning New York, not St. Paul) because the river isn’t wide enough for them.  However, the 35W bridge, a little downstream from downtown, was rebuilt after the collapse of the previous one in 2007 to have some nice features, and the blue lights on it are nice to see at night.

In between, connecting the Main Street area to downtown, is the Stone Arch Bridge, where a former and current Halsey Hall SABR president got married in 1996.  It’s now open for bikes and pedestrians, but it was once a railroad bridge, built by James J. Hill.  Hill was known as the Empire Builder and also as one of the robber barons of his time and he was sort of an earlier version of Bernie Madoff.  Along with J. P. Morgan, Hill got into a takeover battle of the Northern Pacific Railroad with Edward Harriman that ruined a lot of investors and nearly collapsed the stock market in 1901 in what was really nothing more than a case of wee-wee envy among grown men.

On the downtown side of the Stone Arch Bridge is a lock and dam that drops 50 feet, the first in a series of locks and dams that allows navigation as the Mississippi drops a whole lot between Minneapolis and St. Louis.  There is a visitor center there, and it’s worth seeing.

As for the convention, things are coming together.  Scott Fischthal and Neal Traven have done a great job of lining up research presentations, and a schedule of those presentations is now on the SABR website.

Ron Coomer has agreed to be on the player panel.  Ron grew up on the south side of Chicago as a Cubs fan, and he imitated Jack Brickhouse’s call (“Back, back, back, hey, hey!”) as he fungoed rocks across Central Avenue into Midway Airport.  If he’s kidded about growing up in the nice part of the south side, he points out that he recently took his wife by his high school and was able to point out some prostitutes and a drug deal going down.  Cooms hit some home runs for the Twins and a few other teams and was on the American League All-Star team in 1999.  He now works as a commentator for Twins games on Fox Sports North.

Tony Oliva is still a possibility although the rescheduled Twins-Royals game made that stickier, because he works out with the Twins and helps do some coaching before games.  However, we’re hoping he may be excused from pre-game duties that day so he can join Coomer and Roy Smalley and Bob “Rocky” Johnson on the players panel.

Our group of convention volunteers, headed by Howard Luloff, will stand out in special red convention shirts and be there to greet you and help you out in just about any way you want.

Meanwhile, Batman and Robin finally escaped the Joker and are now in the clutches of the Catwoman, so they’re finally having a good time, too.  So will you in Minneapolis this summer.


May 10, 2012

If you get a chance while in Minneapolis for SABR 42 (June 27-July 1 at the Minneapolis City Center Marriott), visit the main campus of the University of Minnesota.  Depending on which bus you take or which bridge you cross on your Nice Bike, you’ll come up on the U from Washington Avenue or University Avenue.

Off Washington Avenue is the main quad, the mall in front of Northrup Auditorium, which is surrounded by mostly old buildings.  Beyond that is Stadium Village, which was called that even through the years that there was no stadium, after Memorial Stadium was knocked down in the early 1990s and before TCF Bank Stadium was built and opened in 2009.  Williams Arena, the home of the basketball team, is in that area, too.

Off University Avenue is another campus village, a four-square-block area known as Dinkytown.  This used to be more quaint, with mostly independent stores, but it’s still a nice area to walk through.  On the edge of Dinkytown, at the corner of 14th Avenue and 5th Street SE, is a building that used to be Marshall-University High School (the result of a merger between Marshall and University high schools in 1968).  It’s a small-business/technology center, and you can stroll through the halls, the same halls once roamed by Walter Jocketty, who became a two-time Executive of the Year in Major League Baseball (one with the Cardinals, which, coincidentally, was the nickname of Marshall/Marshall-U).  We’re kind of proud of him.

Walter was from an athletic family, and his dad was a coach and teacher at Marshall-U, who had a weekly multiple-choice history test in which he had the students swap their papers to grade them.  Some students were known to not swap them and just fill in the answers as Mr. Jocketty read them off.  Some from the first hour were generous enough to even write down the answers on a scrap of paper and share them with the classes for the later hours.  I did well in history that year.

Walt was an all-around athlete and a pitcher on the baseball team, which was probably better than the baseball team when I was on it a few years later (and there may be a cause-and-effect relationship there).  But we had fun.  Our bus trips back were always raucous, despite the outcome, although that irked our coach, a nice guy who didn’t always get the respect he deserved.  Once, after a 17-1 loss to Washburn that was followed by a ride home that included everyone on the right side of the bus snagging on a hitchhiker, the coach dismissed the cheerleaders (I don’t think they were among the snaggers) and kept us on there to chew us out.  “It used to be you could tell if a team won or lost by looking at the players after a game,” he started with, and then used an unfortunate double-entendre that went over well with a bunch of high-school kids.  “McFee, you were making a lot of noise, and you pulled a couple of boners out there.”  We all started shrieking and saying “Boner,” except for McFee, who tried to reason with the coach and say, “I only made one error.”  “Yeah, but it was a boner!” yelled Jud Stein.  We ended up laughing our coach off the bus.

In the building you can also visit the first-floor restroom where I once heroically put out a fire in a wastebasket after racing out to the hall to get a fire extinguisher (which was only fair, because I had started the fire), and the place where two buddies and I threw a 9,000-match smokebomb (sort of an independent study science experiment) that cleared out the school on a cold January day.  It was pretty cool seeing the fire department come out with these big fans, but I guess it looked a little suspicious when the three of us were the only ones outside wearing coats.

Woodshop was another learning experience.  We found that if you turned on the table saw and threw a wood chip on it, it would shoot off and possibly through a window if it wasn’t first intercepted by some unsuspecting student walking by at the time (I guess that’s why they made us wear safety glasses).  Brian McCann and I once took the teacher’s paddle and sawed it off at the handle, probably the most productive woodworking project we did all semester.

You can read about these things and more.

Meanwhile, the rainout of the Twins-Royals game a couple weeks ago, resulting in a makeup game during SABR 42, caused a little consternation for us.  We still hope Tony Oliva can be on our players panel, although he works out with the Twins and helps coach them before games, and the Twins now have a noon game on Saturday, right after the players panel, which will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m.  Roy Smalley has confirmed that he will still be there as he worked with Fox Sports North to keep his schedule clear for that game.  I think Ron Coomer, who also works with Fox Sports North, will still be able to make it, too.

Frank Quilici will be the moderator of the panel.  Frank played for the Twins from 1965 to 1970 and had two hits in one inning in the first game of the 1965 World Series.  He coached the Twins in 1971 and 1972 although he played one game in 1971, an exhibition game against the Giants at Met Stadium in which Giants coach Ozzie Virgil also played.  In July 1972 the Twins fired Bill Rigney and hired Quilici to manage the team.  In Frank’s first game, Harmon Killebrew hit a two-run homer to beat a team from New York, delighting Frank and most of the fans there but disappointing a current and future miscreant in the crowd.  Frank was fired after the 1975 season and became a broadcaster, working on the radio with Herb Carneal.  He has always been popular in Minnesota and is a really engaging guy, so he should be a good moderator for the panel.

More later.


SABR 42 Update and Shameless Promotion VIII-B
As I banged out the latest update right after getting up this morning and still reeling from the news of Danny Valencia being sent to the minors, I said that Walter Jocketty was twice Executive of the Year, once with the Cardinals.  Of course, as everyone from Darin Mastroianni to Tsuyoshi Nishioka to perennial SABR-vote getter Kalvin Zitterkob knows, Walt was with the Cardinals both times he received the award.  The Cardinals won one World Series when he was there.  Read more about Walt.

Frank Quilici said that moderating the SABR players panel at the convention sounds like fun and, if not, he’ll make it fun.  I’m sure it will be fun, and I’m sure Frank will make it more fun.  When Frank hit the broadcast booth, he loved the Mike Cubbage Fan Club, which I was a part of.  He’d join in when our group when up by the press box and sang our Mike Cubbage song (with no apologies to Conrad): “We love you, Cubby; Oh, yes, we do.  We love you Cubby, we will be true.  When you’re not playing, we BOO!  Oh, Cubby, we love you.”  It really sounded great after a few beers.

May 17, 2012

For some reason I don’t get to Minnehaha Falls in south Minneapolis too often anymore, but this was a place I always brought out-of-towners when I was showing them around the city.  The falls are in a nice park near the Mississippi River, and you can get to the park and falls by taking the light rail south and getting off at 50th Street/Minnehaha Park Station.  (And next to the station is Cap’s Grille, a good place to eat.)  From there you can walk through the park and/or get a Nice Ride bike.

The falls are almost at the end of 22-mile-long Minnehaha Creek, which starts at Lake Minnetonka to the west.  If your plane comes in from the west and you look down and see a really big lake with all these bays jutting out, that’s probably Lake Minnetonka.  The suburbs around it, some of which are just narrow strips extending between the bays, are pretty ritzy, and a lot of people have fancy boats and yachts.

One yacht was rented a few years ago by the Minnesota Vikings, who took a cruise during one of their bye weeks, a bonding exercise, I guess, that included a lot of regular folks and their families.  Fred Smoot, a defensive back, was in charge of lining up the entertainment, which he brought in from Atlanta or some place like that.  This upset some of the local entertainment, wondering why they weren’t good enough for this cruise, and the families on the boat got even more upset about what some of the Vikings did with the out-of-town entertainment since they did it in view of the people and their impressionable kids.  Fred Smoot was reportedly particularly innovative.  But enough about football.

The falls are at the other end of Minnehaha Creek, which drops more than 50 feet before making its final run to the river.  Hammerin’ Hank Longfellow wrote The Song of Hiawatha with photos and stories of the falls as his inspiration.  You can roam around and get a good look at the falls from several places.  You can also cross a bridge over the creek right before the falls.  There are cables across the creek so that canoeists who have taken a wrong turn or stayed on the creek too long have a last chance to bail out before doing a Delahanty.  They usually clean up the dead canoeists pretty quickly so you probably won’t see any of those.

You can take stairs down to paths along the creek below and get close to the bottom of the falls.  I remember 35 years ago being able to walk under the falls, but I don’t know if they allow that anymore.

During a drought there might not be much to see, but I’m told that there are now ways to divert enough water into the creek so that there is still a spectacular waterfall.  Back in the 1960s, Lady Bird Johnson visited Minneapolis when the water was low, and the city flushed fire hydrants into the creek so she could be awed by the falls.

This is still one of the best places to see both for local people and tourists although many of the latter seem to be more enamored by a big shopping center south of there that at least has the distinction of being the former site of Met Stadium.

Meanwhile, things are moving along well with the convention.  The program is at the printer, but we will have a pocket schedule of events printed closer to convention time that will have even more current information.

I’m told that the number of registrants has been good so we’re expecting a big group to have a swell time here.  We (our Halsey Hall Chapter and local organizing committee) are looking forward to it and still working hard to make sure this is another memorable SABR convention in Minneapolis.  And the Twins are on a two-game winning streak.  Everything’s looking up.


May 23, 2012

When our chapter submitted our convention bid in 2004, we noted that the SABR policy manual called for smoking to be prohibited in all areas containing official convention functions and that Minneapolis and a suburb had just passed a smoke-free ordinance that included restaurants and bars.  Since then the smoke-free laws have expanded to cover all of Minnesota.

I know this is good news to some and not-so-good news to others, but I was happy to be able to go into places and enjoy clean air.  I got spoiled going to the convention in 1998 near San Francisco and then coming back to Minnesota and going into smoky restaurants again.  Minnesota was a once leader in smoke-free legislation, passing a law in 1975 that restaurants had to designate a certain portion of their seating, something like 25 percent, as non-smoking.  That hardly seems radical now but it was to a lot of people then.  Minnesota then fell behind other states, such as California, but now they’ve caught up, and that makes it even easier for SABR to comply with its policy of prohibiting smoking at the convention.

We’ll be at a Marriott, a chain that has gone totally smoke-free, at least indoors.  We have a nice area where the poster presentations will be, and it leads out to a balcony.  We’ve talked to the hotel to post signs that note that smoking won’t be allowed on the balcony, even though it’s outside.

Target Field went totally smoke-free this season, in part to comply with Hennepin County policies that ban smoking on all county property.  They had had smoking corrals and allowed smoking on the plaza, but that changed at the start of this season, both because of the county policy and because of feedback they got from their fans.

On the other hand, the Twins have lifted the ban on smokeless tobacco.  They never enforced it too vigorously unless someone complained, and few did unless the chewer/dipper was particularly uncouth about it.  So if you bring your can of Skoal or pouch of Beech-Nut, use a cup to spit in, or, better yet, just swallow.

In other convention news:

Our chapter president, Brenda Himrich, unlike her husband, doesn’t mind paying for food at the ballgame and has put together a list of Top Ten Target Field Foods.  You can find a link to this list on our chapter convention site.  Brenda will also have a pile of the “2012 Target Field Concessions & Retail Guide” at the convention.  Brenda’s list includes things like walleye on a stick at the ballpark’s State Fair concession booths, because everything at the state fair is on a stick.  Something new this year is the Nachos Helmet.  In the past the Twins sold sundaes in miniature helmets, but now they full-size helmets with nachos and cheese and other stuff.  Brenda elegantly describes it as gross-looking rather than saying it looks like someone heaved in the helmet.

One problem with SABR conventions these days is you have to make choices.  I looked at the 1988 convention program, when it was last here, and the events were all one-at-a-time.  Now you have lots of choices, but you also have stuff you’ll miss out on.

Take Thursday night, for example.  In addition to the trivia contest preliminaries, there is also a trip to the baseball exhibit at the new Minnesota African American Museum (MAAM).  I’m on the advisory board for MAAM, and we’ve been planning this for a while.  Larry Lester is also on the board and came up from Kansas City for one of our meetings.  MAAM is opening the first weekend in June with a baseball exhibit, “Bringing It Home: A Retrospective of Black N’ Brown Baseball in Minnesota.”  MAAM will be hosting a special reception for our convention.  We’re going to ask people for $5 to cover the cost of food and drinks that the museum will provide.  I’ll lead those who want to walk to and from the museum (it’s about a mile), and Brenda Himrich will lead those who want to take the bus, which will stop right in front of the museum.  The bussers will have to pay their own fare, which is $1.75 each way.  (Brenda is the safety manager for Metro Transit and takes pride in rarely losing any riders.)

In addition to the trivia preliminaries at the hotel, there will be a showing of Knuckleball, which came out this spring at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Alan Nathan, who is in the film, will introduce it, talk about the knuckleball, and lead a question-and-answer session.

So start planning what you’re going to do and what you’re going to have to miss at the convention.  It will be like a three-ring circus but without the high-flying acrobats (other than one guy who last year did fine on a 13,000-foot jump for the first 12,990 feet).


May 27, 2012

As you walk to Target Field or go to Butler Square to see the site of Athletic Park during SABR 42 (June 27 to July 1 at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center), pause as you walk by Target Center and remember that this is the home of the defending-champion Minnesota Lynx.  Yeah, it’s basketball, not baseball, but it’s still a big deal.  The Lynx built their team the old-fashioned way, by having enough bad years to get good draft picks.  They also traded for Lindsay Whalen, who was a star for the Minnesota Gophers, and they have Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and Candice Wiggins, whose dad, Alan Wiggins, played major league baseball.  They’re doing great again this season, having won their first four games.

The site of an arena that was home to other basketball teams—the Minnesota Muskies and the Minnesota Pipers (who, as the Pittsburgh Pipers, were the defending champions when they came to Minnesota)—is in a suburb south of Minneapolis.  The Metropolitan Sports Center also had the Minnesota North Stars until they moved to Dallas.

You can see the site of the Met Sports Center, which is across the parking lot of the site of Met Stadium, on the Saturday ballpark tour.  Art Mugalian, who looks like Steve Nash (but we’ve already covered basketball enough), and Dave Jensen will lead the tour.  Art will point out what may be the last remnant of the sports heritage of the site, a sign in the parking lot.  After the Twins moved to the Met, they put up signs around the ballpark with names of other teams in the American League.  That way, you could remember if you parked in the Senators Lot or the Athletics Lot or the Yankees Lot.  (It wasn’t as cutesy as Southdale shopping center, which names its parking signs after animals: Bear Lot, Zebra Lot, and, of course, Camel Lot.)  One of the Met Stadium signs is still there, painted over so it now says East, even though it’s north of the shopping center.  The signs made more sense when Met Stadium was there.

Art works within the shopping center on the Met Stadium site and is a bit more reverent about it than I am.  He calls it the “Sammy Sosa of shopping malls” and notes that they have a b.f. aquarium (with sharks) in there.

This steroid mall is on Cedar Avenue between Interstate 494 and Killebrew Drive.  As you might guess, the latter street was named prior to the shopping center being there.  It was a quieter street when Met Stadium was there, and, if this shopping center has provided anything good, it’s given more prominence to Killebrew Drive (even a big exit sign for it on Cedar Avenue, which has elevated roads and ramps and is more elaborate than when Met Stadium was there).

When the Met opened, 494 was Hwy. 100 and was known as the Beltline.  To the east of Met Stadium was and is the airport.  I-494 to the west is known as the strip and has a lot of hotels, restaurants, and bars, including places allegedly visited by the Minnesota Vikings before their many drunk-driving arrests.

Off 494 and Penn Avenue is a Kohl’s, which has a lot of pictures of Met Stadium on the second floor, according to Art.  A little farther west on 494, past Southdale, is the Hotel Sofitel, which was L’Hotel de France in 1979, when it became famous as the site where Billy Martin decked Joseph Marshmallow, a Cooper salesman, or something like that.

Another trip during SABR 42 will be to the new baseball exhibit at the Minnesota African American Museum and Cultural Center, which opens this weekend.  It’s in the historic Coe Mansion, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and was in the Minneapolis Star Tribune last weekend and is on-line

Another museum, not part of official convention activities, is the Julian H. Sleeper Museum in St. Paul.  It is the home of and operated by SABR member Dr. Seth C. Hawkins, who is known as Dr. Fan, a result of his great resume of attender of historic baseball events.  He has been at every 3,000th hit going back to the beginning of 1970 and has been at a regular-season game at every stadium in which a regular-season game has been played since 1952.  That includes the stadiums used for just a few games, such as Cashman Field, Tokyo Dome, and Aloha Stadium.  The only stadium of his lifetime where he did not attend a game was League Park in Cleveland.

The Julian H. Sleeper House is mostly devoted to what Dr. Fan calls “the prosperous and comfortable Gilded Age of America.”  In addition, it has a section devoted to Slovenia, a baseball room, and a room for everything James Garfield, which includes a business card of Garfield assasin Charles Guiteau and a particularly interesting artifact, one that he does not want widely publicized but which he will show to anyone interested.

There is easy bus service to the museum and anyone interested may call Seth at 651-225-1505 to set up a time to visit.  Seth can provide bus information, which you can also get from Metro Transit Safety Manager Brenda Himrich at the convention.  (The Julian H. Sleeper House is not wheelchair-accessible.)


June 3, 2012

SABR 42 (June 27 to July 1 at the Minneapolis City Center Marriott) will open on the birthday of Rico Petrocelli, Wayne Terwilliger, Eddie Kasko, Gus Zernial, Helen Keller, Willie Mosconi, Rudy Perpich (dead Minnesota governor buried at Lakewood Cemetery), Ross Perot, Dick the Bruiser, and Captain Kangaroo.

Early arrivers on Wednesday can take a special tour of the Minneapolis Central Library followed by a tour of the Metrodome and a walking tour of downtown.  The walking tour, led by Brenda Himrich (whose birthday is on the final day of the convention, July 1, which will make her two years older than her husband for the next three weeks), will go down to the river, a great part of town.  I’ll write more about this area in Shameless Promotion XIII, but you will go by the Guthrie Theater, which is a place I’ve stopped in often to use their restrooms since they don’t really seem to care if you buy anything or not (and they have interesting restrooms).  You can also go up a couple levels and walk out on the Bridge to Nowhere (although I think they call it the Endless Bridge), which gives you a great view of the river and other stuff.

The Guthrie Theater has been around 50 years, although only for 5 to 10 years in its current location, which had been coveted by the Twins when they unsuccessfully asked for a new domed stadium in 1997 by making it look like they’d move to North Carolina if they didn’t get it and which turned out to be a bluff because they really didn’t have anything lined up in North Carolina.  The Guthrie is highly regarded by theater folks and started out doing only classic-type plays, such as Shakespeare.  Brenda and I went to the new Guthrie for a play once, and they’re now doing more less-classic productions.  We saw The 39 Steps, based on a book by John Buchan and made into a Hitchcock movie in 1935.  I enjoyed it a lot more than I would have a Shakespeare play, although in 1983 I did enjoy an Augsburg College production of The Twelveth Night, mainly because I was making out with the sister of an Augsburg student who had brought some mushrooms to the show.

The Guthrie used to be located at the other end of downtown, another part of Minneapolis worth checking out.  The Guthrie was next to the Walker Art Center, which is still there.  If you walk down Nicollet Mall, away from the river, and continue after the Mall ends, you’ll be in Loring Park, which is a nice place.  You can take the footbridge across Hennepin Avenue to the area where the Guthrie Theater used to be.  Here you will be in the Parade grounds and the Sculpture Garden, which took over a signficant part of the Parade grounds about 20 years ago.

The Parade area was named more than 100 years ago because it was next to an armory, which used the grounds as a parade ground.  Within a few decades, this was the sports center of Minneapolis with a Parade Stadium football field and baseball field.  The High School football preview was played here every year, and Parade Stadium also held the City Conference’s game of the week every Friday night.  The National Football League played some exhibition games at Parade Stadium in the 1950s.  The football field has been replaced by a soccer area with artificial turf (and a hockey arena was also built on the far side of it).

The baseball stadium still exists.  In 1953, after the Braves moved to Milwaukee, the city folks hoped to get a major league team here and got excited when it became apparent the Browns would be leaving St. Louis.  They proposed expanding Parade Stadium for the Browns while they built a new stadium, but the Browns moved to Baltimore, where a new stadium had opened a few years earlier.  The city folks then figured they better concentrate on building a new stadium, one that could be used by the Minneapolis Millers until a major league team arrived.  The Minneapolis Minutemen were formed and sold bonds to build a new stadium, which they decided to put in a suburb south of Minneapolis.  (This suburb later whined that Minneapolis was stealing its team when the Metrodome was built, ignoring that Met Stadium was a gift from the Minneapolis business interests to begin with.  Ingrates.)

I remember the Pan American team playing at Parade Stadium in 1967 during the U. S. Pan-Am trials.  Stan Marquess played for the Pan Am team (I think he had played at Stanford and later became their coach).  I was batboy for the Pan Am opponents, an All-Star team from the Metropolitan Collegiate League, which included the Minnesota Gophers summer team (I had just become batboy for the Gophers).

In 1994 a new Minneapolis Millers team played at Parade Stadium in the Great Northern League, a four-team league in which all the teams (Mason City, Champaign-Urbana, and Lafayette were the others) were owned by Dick Jacobson, a noted local strip-joint owner.  The league was a farce, although the Millers were managed by George “Boomer” Scott, whose son, George III, played on it.  As the author of a book on the Minneapolis Millers, I was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for their opening game, which probably meant that the mayor and every city council member had already turned down the request.  The Millers treated me well, and, after the first pitch, I got to pose with Boomer, who gave me a bat signed by all the Millers.  I also did some play-by-play on radio for the Millers that year. 

The amenities were lacking.  Before the first game, I saw Antonio Martinez, the starting pitcher for the Millers, walking toward the ivy-covered fence down the left-field line.  “He’s going to take a whiz,” I muttered although I wasn’t serious.  But that’s what he did.  The Millers never drew many fans in this uncanny place and barely made it through the season.  Their players had rooms in dorms at Augsburg College but got kicked out of there after an alleged sexual assault, which also caused the radio station they used for their broadcasts, a religious station, to drop Millers games.  I was no longer doing radio play-by-play for them, which had been kind of goofy anyway, since the station would sometimes cut into the game broadcast to put on a sermon or something.

Beyond the baseball stadium was the city’s best softball field.  This is where the top teams got to play, and you knew you had reached the big time if you got to play at Parade Stadium.

Beyond the left-field fence of the softball field, along Hennepin Avenue, was an open area, and it was here in 1982 that I watched cricket live for the first time.  Neville Marriner, then the director of the Minnesota Orchestra, was the bowler for one of the teams.  I enjoyed it a lot, having some burly guy with a British accent explain the game to me and then invite me to join him when they interrupted the game to haul out this huge buffet lunch.  I’ve been disappointed with cricket ever since, because I’ve never seen the buffet lunch again.

In the late 1980s, this open area and the softball field were taken over by the sculpture garden, “the largest urban sculpture garden in the country with more than 40 works on permanent view in addition to temporary installations that keep the Garden experience continually fresh,” according to some promotional material for the garden.

The centerpiece of the sculpture garden is the “Colossal Spoonbridge and Cherry Fountain,” which soon became infamous as couples found other ways to keep the Garden experience continually fresh by using the giant spoon as a place for a clandestine quickie.  I went by there for a quickie visit last week.  A sign in front of the spoonbridge and cherry has the name of the artists, but they were obscured by bird poop (I hope it was only bird poop).  I was able to make out that the erection was donated by Fred Weisman, who has an art museum on the University of Minnesota campus named after him.  The Weisman Art Museum is a strange-looking building.  It looks like a Picasso painting with an extra nose.  Some people think it is avant garde, which, to refined folks such as myself, apparently is a European way of saying it’s butt-ugly.  Also, the Weisman Museum is wrapped in something that looks like aluminum foil, so the reflection from the setting sun blinds motorists as they cross the Washington Avenue bridge.

Back in the sculpture garden, a lot of stuff is avant garde, including this brick wall that lifted my hopes momentarily because I thought it had restrooms in it.  Instead, it was just a brick wall.  I had to go over to the baseball stadium and find the ivy-covered fence down the left-field line.

Meanwhile, as for the convention, Major League baseball historian John Thorn will be the keynote speaker at the awards lunch on Thursday.

Also, anyone in the area is invited to come to our Stuff This party at the Marriott at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 24.  We will be stuffing the goody bags (which have the convention logo on them, a logo designed by Mary Buckland, sister of Halsey Hall Chapter vice president Fred Buckland).  Bring family and friends and come to the fourth floor of the Marriott if you’d like to stuff stuff.


June 13, 2012

Last week I wrote about attractions on the west end of downtown Minneapolis.  This week you get to hear about what’s on the east end, along the Mississippi River.

The Mill City Museum is devoted to the city’s milling heritage.  Lumber and then flour milling on both sides of the river were big because of the power generated by St. Anthony Falls.  The museum is built on the ruins of the Washburn A Mill.  The original A Mill had a big explosion, caused by flour dust, in 1878.  It was rebuilt and used until 1965, making Gold Medal Flour for the company that became General Mills.  (A mill across the river used by Pillsbury was used until 2003.  Pillsbury, with its Doughboy, and General Mills, with Betty Crocker, have since merged into one company.)

The Washburn A Mill had a huge fire in January 1991.  Nina Archibal, then the director of the Minnesota Historical Society, reacted quickly to preserve what was left of the building, keeping the remnants of the crumbling walls from being knocked down, and the Historical Society was able to turn this into what they call the “most explosive” museum in Minneapolis.  Unfortunately, it’s open only until 5 p.m. each day, but it’s worth visiting if you have a chance.  Take the special elevator tour if you can.

The Guthrie Theater is down the street from the Mill City Museum.  They offer tours, and Roman Holiday is playing there during the convention.  The theater, when it was on the west end of downtown, had only a thrust stage, with the stage surrounded by seats on three sides.  They have a thrust stage at the new theater as well as a proscenium stage (which I think means it’s more like a traditional stage).

There is a restaurant cafe, Spoonriver, between the museum and theater, but there are a lot more dining and drinking options across the river, along Main Street on the east bank.  This is southeast Minneapolis, which was St. Anthony and the original part of the city.  St. Anthony merged with Minneapolis, on the west side of the river.

You’ll get down here if you arrive Wednesday and go on the Metrodome and downtown walking tour led by Brenda Himrich.  Also, Brenda will be happy to take people down here Thursday night, and we will have other volunteers available to lead people where they want to go.

It looks like we have an opening in our schedule on Thursday, because the Minnesota African American Museum (MAAM) baseball exhibit has closed already.  The museum and exhibit opened June 1 with a big event.  I got through the exhibit with a lot of other people.  Clyde Doepner of the Twins, however, told me they were going to take down the baseball exhibit within a couple days.  Apparently they had a deadline for opening related to grant money, but the museum doesn’t meet the standards for the Americans with Disabilities Act, so they are now doing more work to comply with ADA.  I haven’t gotten confirmation from the museum, but it looks like it’s No MAAM, and we’re going to have volunteers available Thursday night to guide people through other options.  (And, of course, there are still events at the hotel--trivia preliminaries and the showing of Knuckleball.) 

If you want to go out to eat or see things that night, meet at the hospitality table on the 4th floor at 6:30.  Our local folks will have suggestions—light rail to Minnehaha Falls, bus to Lake Calhoun, going out to eat in downtown, going down to the river—and visitors can make their own suggestions and get help, advice, and maybe even a guide for what they’d like to do and see.

We have a few other changes—just the normal last-minute things that come up with events like these.

I was going to moderate the author panel on Wednesday night.  However, a local suburb is having a town hall meeting related to cancer concerns and drinking water that night (I’m the paid flak for the state’s drinking water program).  These types of meetings always have the potential for stuff to happen, and this one may have a little more potential since Erin Brockovich is coming in for it.  So I’m going to be there instead of Barnes & Noble.  However, I’m happy that Rob Taylor of University of Nebraska Press has agreed to moderate the panel, which will have Mark Armour, Rob Fitts, Dan Levitt, John Thorn, and Steve Treder.  It will be a great event.

Also, Cory Provus has had to drop out of being the moderator for our session with Twins general manager Terry Ryan on Friday morning.  I won’t get into details, but Cory has an even better excuse than Erin Brockovich coming to town.  I hope Cory will still be able to stop by the convention at another time.  And I’m really really happy to report that Dan Levitt will moderate this session.  Dan has researched and written about Ryan’s time with the Twins, so he’s knowledgeable as well as good at being a master of ceremonies.

Everything else is still going as planned, and Deb Jayne reports that we have a lot of people registered.  We’re really excited about it here in Minnesota, and I hope you are too.  SABR 42: A Scene You Should Make.


June 18, 2012

Not that other states don’t, but Minnesota has some interesting politics.  We’re seen as a Democratic state, going with the Republican presidential candidate only twice in my lifetime, but there is usually a pretty good mix around the state, with the Republicans and some Independents getting seats in Congress (where I think we still have the only Muslim representative) and in the state legislature.

Our current governor, Mark Dayton, is a Democrat although in Minnesota we refer to the party as the DFL, the result of a 1944 merger between the Democrats and the Farmer-Labor party.  Hubert Humphrey, then an up-and-comer, was a big part of the consolidation.  For a while in the 1970s and 1980s our state Republicans became Independent Republicans, so we had the party labels of DFL and IR.  We speak our own lingo in Minnesota, as you probably figured out if you saw the movie Fargo, even though Fargo isn’t in Minnesota, but it is where Roger Maris is buried.

With our DFL governor, we have a Republican legislature.  The Republicans took a majority in the state House and Senate in 2010, the first time the Republicans have controlled the Senate since they started using party designations for the legislature.  Governor Dayton is part of the Dayton’s Department Store family.  Dayton’s was really big here for about 100 years (it’s now Macy’s), and it started Target in 1962.  Target finally became bigger than Dayton’s, and now the Dayton’s company is Target Corporation.

Dayton won the governor’s race in 2010 even though it was a big Republican year.  His opponent, Tom Emmer, got off to a bad start by dissing restaurant workers and suggesting they were overpaid.  That may have made the difference in the election, which was close enough to require a recount.  Some think that Emmer losing in a big Republican year is akin to a fellow who doesn’t get his money’s worth in the red-light district.  But the Democrats have done that, too.  In 2006, a big DFL year in the state, Mike Hatch lost to Republican incumbent Tim Pawlenty.  Hatch is known for his temper (think of Earl Weaver without the charm) and blew up the weekend before the election.  His Lt. Governor running mate, Judi Dutcher (a Republican turned Democrat who is also the daughter of former Minnesota Gophers basketball coach Jim Dutcher), flubbed a question about E-85, momentarily not recalling that this referred to ethanol.  Minnesota is a big corn-growing state, but it probably wasn’t that big a deal until Hatch blew up at the media reporting on it and called them a bunch of Republican concubines.  (Okay, he actually said “whores” instead of “concubines,” but I wasn’t sure if whores would be allowed on SABR-L.)  To put this in baseball terms, Judi Dutcher was the shortstop who fumbled a grounder, but Mike Hatch was the pitcher who turned it into a big inning.

So Dayton and Emmer had to go to a recount, but that was nothing compared to some of the recounts we’ve had in Minnesota.  A recount from the 1962 governor’s election lasted more than four months, and the 2008 recount of the U. S. Senate race between Norm Coleman, the incumbent, and Al Franken lasted longer than that, leaving Minnesota with only one Senator, Amy Klobuchar (who, as a student, had written a great book about the political process in the building of the Metrodome), for a while.  Franken finally was declared the winner.  Coleman, a Democrat turned Republican when he was mayor of St. Paul, had lost in the 1998 governor’s election, and he’s become damaged goods within his party since he has lost major elections to a wrestler and a comedian.

A big election for the Republicans, which they call the “Minnesota Massacre,” happened in 1978 when they won the governor’s race and two U. S. Senate seats.  A lot of stuff had happened in the previous two years.  Senator Walter Mondale (who became Senator when Hubert Humphrey became vice president) became vice president.  The governor at the time, Wendell Anderson, wanted Mondale’s seat and likely could have won it if he had waited until the 1978 election.  However, after Mondale vacated the seat, Anderson resigned as governor.  The new governor, Rudy Perpich, appointed Anderson to the Senate.  This way of becoming a Senator usually works about as well as the pitcher faking a pickoff throw to third to get the guy on first to break early (which will be a balk next year).  Other governors who pulled this ploy were defeated the next time they ran for Senate, except for A. B. “Happy” Chandler, who did this in Kentucky and then continued to win his Senate elections until he went on to greater things.

Anderson ran against Republican Rudy Boschwitz in 1978.  Boschwitz had founded Plywood Minnesota, and in his down-home flannel shirts he did the television commercials for the company until he got into the Senate race.  Then his sons did the commercials, which became the source for a lot of parodies because of the sons’ excessive gestures, which sometimes looked like they were trying to goose one another.

Boschwitz beat Anderson for the Senate seat, but that wasn’t all.  Rudy Perpich was running for governor, and he had been sullied by being part of appointing Anderson to the Senate, and he lost to Al Quie.  On top of that, there was a special Senate election for the seat of Hubert Humphrey, who died in January 1978.  Muriel Humphrey was appointed to the Senate, but it was thought that Don Fraser, a longtime Congressional representative, would be the DFL candidate in the special election.  However, Bob Short ran in the primary election.  Short was a trucking magnate and hotel owner who had owned the Minneapolis Lakers basketball team and moved them to Los Angeles and who had owned the Washington Senators and moved them to Texas.  For different reasons than moving teams, Short was unpopular within the DFL party, and there was a big internal uproar when he defeated Fraser in the primary election.  With the party split pretty badly, Short lost in the general election to Dave Durenberger.

Rudy Perpich ran for governor again in 1982, and things got interesting.  He had some offbeat thoughts and was known as Governor Goofy by some, but he was re-elected in 1986 and was a strong favorite when he ran again in 1990.  His Republican opponent was Jon Grunseth, who had won the Republican primary over a more moderate candidate, Arne Carlson, who some years earlier had come to Minnesota from New York with his brother Lars because they figured their names would go over well with the Scandanavians in the state. 

In mid-October 1990, a big story broke.  A couple of young women said that about 8 years before, when they were around 13, Grunseth had tried to get them to go skinny-dipping with them in the pool at a company party and that Grunseth had tried to pull the swimsuit strap down on one of them.  Although Grunseth, of course, denied it, it killed his chances in the election.  He became known as “Jon Groinseth” and some people I know who worked with him at Economics Lab (now EcoLabs), where Grunseth was a big shot, asked why they never got invited to their pool parties.  Grunseth blasted Perpich as being behind the story and accused him of dirty politics, and a lot of people did think Perpich was playing dirty pool, but it seemed like there was no way he’d lose this election. 

Arne Carlson then got back into the race as a write-in candidate, although the courts ruled that a valid write-in vote would have to include the name of his Lt. Governor running mate, Joanell Dyrstad.  As Carlson supporters were trying to teach others how to spell Dyrstad, the Republicans tried to get Grunseth to back out of the election, but he refused.  More stories emerged about Grunseth’s alleged marital infidelity.  Grunseth acknowledged he had once been a “warm-blooded male” but said his only fooling around had occurred while he and his wife had been separated.  Then a woman came out and said that she had been boofing Grunseth while he was still with his wife.  Finally, about a week-and-a-half before the election, Grunseth withdrew from the race.  The state said Carlson could take his place on the ballot, and Carlson won the election over Perpich.  Grunseth then blasted Carlson, saying he was behind the skinny-dipping story and that he had used it to maneuver himself into the election.  Regardless of one’s feelings about this result of the election, this was great stuff.

Also on Election Day in 1990, Paul Wellstone upset Rudy Boschwitz, who was running for his third term in the Senate.  Wellstone had run a good and creative campaign, but it didn’t look like it would be enough until Boschwitz shot himself in the foot the weekend before the election.  Wellstone and Boschwitz were/are Jewish, and Boschwitz sent a letter to leaders in the local Jewish community, complaining about how Wellstone was raising his children with his non-Jewish wife.  The letter backfired and was enough for Wellstone to beat Boschwitz.

Wellstone beat Boschwitz again in 1996 and was running for a third term, against Norm Coleman, in 2002, when he was killed in a plane crash, along with his wife, daughter, a couple campaign workers, and the pilot and co-pilot, about a week-and-a-half before the election.  Walter Mondale eventually took Wellstone’s spot on the ballot.  Coleman suspended election activities and was in a tough spot with the shock and sympathy from the tragedy and the Republicans having to sort of lay low.  There was a big memorial service for the Wellstones at Williams Arena the following Tuesday, one week before the election, and it got a little out of hand, taking on the atmosphere of more of a political rally than a funeral.  This gave the Republicans something to sink their teeth into, and they made the most of it with Coleman defeating Mondale, a former vice president, for the Senate seat.

Local politics is even more colorful.  In the 1960s St. Paul had a mayor, Charlie McCarty (no relation to the ventriloquist dummy) who was a favorite of the news stations since the council meetings were pretty raucous.  Minneapolis had Barbara Carlson on the city council later.  She is the ex-wife of Arne Carlson, who became governor in 1991.  By that time Barbara had a radio show and told all sorts of lurid stuff, including that Arne had a special name for a part of his anatomy (Oscar).  I’m not sure if that was derived from Oscar Mayer (“Oh, I wish I were a . . . . “).

So it’s always interesting stuff that happens in politics in Minnesota—and that’s without even getting into Jesse Ventura and Michele Bachmann.

Meanwhile, everything’s pretty much staying on track with SABR 42 (June 27 to July 1 at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center).  I sweated through some rain this weekend at Target Field this weekend, including a 42-minute rain delay after the 11th inning yesterday in a game that went 15 innings.  Had the Twins and Brewers gotten banged, we feared that the make-up game would be June 28, an open date for both teams, and that would have created more havoc for the convention.  It would have wiped out our special Target Field tour (which more than 50 people have signed up for) and interfered with our official scorers panel, which already had been rescheduled from Saturday because of a Twins-Royals makeup game that has been scheduled for that afternoon.

But they got all the games in, and June 28 will be open for all the good things, such as the opening ceremonies with Twins president Dave St. Peter, the Target Field tours, the research presentations, the committee meetings, the Women in Baseball panel, the trivia preliminaries, the showing of Knuckleball—and that’s just one day.  There is lots more on the other days.

The June 30 makeup game is still causing us to scramble a bit with the Saturday players panel.  Roy Smalley and Bob “Rocky” Johnson are still confirmed with Frank Quilici moderating it.  Because Fox Sports North will televise the makeup game, we still don’t know if Ron Coomer will be able to attend because he may be scheduled to work the game for FSN.  Also, Tim Laudner is scheduled to do broadcasting for FSN for that game and will have to be at the ballpark at 10 a.m.  The players panel starts at 9:30.  I’ve asked Tim if he could come for a few minutes and have Quilici ask him a few questions, but he hasn’t said yes or no yet.  If that happens, we will have to get started promptly, so I hope people will break off from the rush to get autographs and be in their seats ready to go at 9:30.  We may still ask some other former players if they can attend, as well.


June 25, 2012

“We heard Canal Park slipped into Lake Superior.”  That’s what hotels in Canal Park in Duluth got from callers last week after heavy rains caused heavy floods and a lot of destruction in the city.  But Canal Park didn’t slip into the lake.  If it had, the people in the hotels on Canal Park probably wouldn’t have answered the phone.

If you’ve booked a room in Duluth for before or after the convention, it wouldn’t hurt to call and confirm your reservation (and if your reservation is at The Inn on Lake Superior, call several times and keep a backup plan in mind because that hotel might still screw up your reservation).  But stick to your travel plans.  Despite the other reeling the city is doing from the flood, they hope they won’t miss out on tourist business from people thinking that something slipped into the lake.

Canal Park is the area around the canal that cuts through Park Point to form a harbor.  The lift bridge over the canal is really cool, especially when they have to lift it.  When it’s not lifted, you can walk, drive, or bike across it and go farther out on the point.

Canal Park is even bigger than it was 25 years ago (except for the parts that have slipped into Lake Superior) because it got additional land from the fill that was excavated for the freeway.  The freeway itself is interesting.  It’s one end of Interstate 35, about 1,500 miles from the other end, which is in Laredo, Texas.  In the 1980s, the freeway stopped short of Duluth because of opposition to having it cut through the city.  Since it’s the end (or beginning) of the freeway, it’s not like it had to be hooked up to a freeway on the other side of the city. 

As is the case with freeways in other cities, there was a fear that extending it through Duluth would mess up the city and cut off access from Lake Superior, keeping people from watching Canal Park slipping into it.  However, they came up with a way to avoid that problem and enhance lake access.  Lake Superior already had been cut off from the rest of Duluth by a railroad yard and warehouses.  As part of the freeway project, they got rid of most of the warehouses (except for the historic ones) and relocated the railroad yards.  The freeway goes through Duluth under four tunnels, which themselves have become bridges between the city and the lake, so they’ve improved access while providing the function of getting traffic through the city in a better way.  The freeway has to curve around the Fitger’s Brewery building, which had to be preserved because it’s historic, so they have a tunnel that goes under Superior Street, around Fitger’s, and then through another tunnel under Superior Street.  There is another tunnel that has a park on top of it to the northeast.  The first tunnel in the series has a lot of interesting features and is a good overpass to get from Canal Park to downtown Duluth.

If you go into downtown, walk to E. Second Avenue and E. First Street to see the memorial for the three black circus employees who were lynched there in 1920 after being accused of raping a teenage girl.  Mike Fedo, a former SABR member, wrote a good book on the lynchings.  The victims were buried in unmarked graves in a Duluth cemetery until someone discovered the graves were there and arranged for markers in the 1990s.  A few years ago, the memorial was built.  It’s worth seeing.

A big attraction in Duluth is Glensheen, which you get to if you stay on the freeway until it ends and then go a little farther on what will become the North Shore Highway.  Glensheen is the mansion of the Chester Congdon, a mining magnate (unlike Powel Crosley, who was a refrigerator magnate), and it became a big deal years later when Chester’s daughter, Elisabeth, and her nurse were murdered there the evening of Sunday, June 26, 1977 (or morning of June 27), which happened only hours after some drunk fan, now a reserved and diginfied SABR member, interrupted the Twins-White Sox game at Met Stadium by climbing the left-field foul pole, by Elisabeth’s ne’er-do-well daughter and ne’erer-do-well son-in-law.  When Glensheen opened for tours a few years later, a lot of people came and found out that the tour guides didn’t like it when they asked which room the old lady bought it in.  I’m told that the tour guides will actually answer the question now as long as it’s asked in a more refined manner than “Which room did the old lady buy it in?”

So go to Duluth and spend some money.  Canal Park probably won’t slip into the lake while you’re there.

I know people are on their way to Minneapolis for SABR 42 (June 27 to July 1 at the Minneapolis City Center Marriott).  Norm King posted on his Facebook page that he’s leaving today.  I’m envisioning all these folks converging by various means, and “Going Up the Country” by Canned Heat, the music used to show all the people on their way to Woodstock, keeps running through my head.  Leave your marijuana at home, however.  We’re keeping a smoke-free atmosphere at our convention.

We had our Stuff This party yesterday at the Marriott with people overcoming the traffic challenges of the Pride Parade, which went down Hennepin Avenue just outside the hotel, to get there and stuff the goody bags, which now contain all sorts of free stuff.  Next year I hope to hang around longer to watch more of the parade rather than just weave through the traffic mess, but stuffing awaited me so I didn’t get to see that much of it.

I know some folks hope to get to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and a number 11 bus will take you from Nicollet Mall to the front door.  A Rembrandt exhibit opened yesterday at the Art Institute, and that’s cool because Rembrandt reminds me of Monet (if I were more sophisticated, I’d probably know the difference), and in 1995 Brenda and I went to Chicago to see the Monet exhibit there and then the Braves vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field, where Brenda had a photo pass and was in the photo area taking pictures of Greg Maddux shutting down the Cubs.  We always call that our day with the great artists: Monet in the morning and Maddux in the afternoon.

Someone (and dang if I can remember whom) asked me about Eat Street, and I finally found out what and where that is.  Eat Street is the section of restaurants between 15th Street South and Franklin on Nicollet Avenue, and you can either walk there or take a 17 bus from Nicollet Mall.  There is info on Eat Street at http://tinyurl.com/yg2axx4.

The convention activity will be centered on the fourth floor, where the ballroom is, and this will be the gathering spot for people going on off-site tours (Library tour at noon Wednesday, Metrodome and downtown walking tour leaving at 2:15 Wednesday, Target Field tour leaving at 10:30 Thursday, ballpark sites bus tour leaving by 11:30 on Saturday), and there will be signs up with info on this, but just hang around that area and wait for someone to gauchely bellow, “Tour’s leaving!”

Our Saturday players panel will include Bill Davis, who played for Cleveland in 1965 and 1966 and was the first first baseman for the San Diego Padres in 1969, getting the start ahead of Nate Colbert.  Bill is tall and was a great basketball player, too.  He played for Richfield, which lost to Edgerton in overtime in the semi-final game of the state high school tournament in 1960.  Edgerton, a small town in southwestern Minnesota, won the tournament and is Minnesota’s version of Milan, Indiana, although it never had a movie made about it.  Bill played basketball for the Minnesota Gophers and was the team’s Most Valuable Player in his senior season.  On the baseball team that spring, Bill was one of the top players on the team that won the College World Series, the third title for coach Dick Siebert (and the third presidential election year in a row that the Gophers won the national championship).  So we will have two players, Bill Davis and Roy Smalley, who played on College World Series winners.  Bob “Rocky” Johnson will also be on the panel, which will be moderated by Frank Quilici.  I’m still waiting to find out the status of Ron Coomer and Tim Laudner, who may be tied up with their broadcasting duties for Fox Sports North.

See you in a couple days.


July 2, 2012

No shameless promotions this time.

We had around 500 people in Minneapolis for the convention last weekend, and it was terrific time for everyone, I hope.  No muggings (which have happened at past conventions), and, unless I find out something else, no fatalities for the 42nd convention in a row.  We did have one crasher, currently a persona non grata or nom de guere or something like that, escorted out of the reception Wednesday night by Josh the Security Dude.

I don’t know if it was explained why Roy Smalley couldn’t make the player panel, but he had a good reason.  Roy has been great and even worked with Fox Sports North to make sure he wasn’t scheduled to work on the telecast for the makeup game Saturday afternoon so that he could still come to the panel.  However, I got an e-mail message from him Saturday morning that they had to take their daughter to the emergency room, it was 1:45 in the morning, and he didn’t know when they’d get out of there.  I contacted him yesterday, and the good news is that his daughter is okay.  Tim Laudner did have to work on the FSN broadcast, so it was really nice of him to come over for a few minutes.  He was entertaining and seemed to enjoy it, too.  We’re also grateful to Bill Davis, Bob “Rocky” Johnson, and Frank Quilici for being on the players panel and to Dave St. Peter and Terry Ryan of the Twins as well as our keynote speaker, John Thorn.  Congratulations to Jan Finkel for earning the Bob Davids Award.

One of our new members, Sarah Johnson, wrote about the convention from the perspective of a new member.  You can read it at http://tinyurl.com/83lgkxq.

It’s so good to have a strong chapter hosting the convention, and the Halsey Hall Chapter members from Minnesota and beyond were outstanding.  Howard Luloff coordinated the on-site volunteers and had greeters, security folks in the memorabilia room (where Clyde Doepner of the Twins had an interesting display), and people staffing the hospitality table.  Hope they were hospitable.

Deb Jayne, with help from Tucker Ring and Leslie Heaphy, and others handled everything with the hotel, which was a big load off of us.

I’m sorry it was so cold while you were here.  Please stop by again sometime and maybe we’ll have a heat wave happening.  If we do this in Minneapolis every 24 years, I’ll probably be dead by SABR 66, but you can visit our grave at Lakewood Cemetery then.  (Someone told me he did go to the grave during the convention, but I wasn’t there.)

It’s been wild.  Thanks again to everyone.









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