Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nicollet and Lexington Ballparks

While in the Cities I took the time to located the former location of two famous ballparks.
Nicollet Ballpark in Minneapolis, home of the Minneapolis Millers from 1896 to 1955.
Described by former Minneapolis Tribune writer Dave Mona as “soggy, foul, rotten, and thoroughly wonderful Nicollet Park.” One of the most revered of minor-league ballparks of all time.
The ballpark was on a small block bounded by Nicollet Avenue on the east, 31st Street on the south, Blaisdell Avenue on the west and Lake Street (or 30th Street) on the north.
A great interior shot of the ballpark while a game is being played. Lights were installed in 1937.The original wood structure was replaced by steel and concrete in 1912.

A small ticket office building with a Spanish-style roof stood outside the right field corner, at the Nicollet-31st intersection. A piece of old advertising for the ballpark.The site of Nicollet ballpark today. Thank you to Wells-Fargo for preserving this important location in Minneapolis history.
The Millers played the Havana Sugar Kings in the 1959 Junior World Series in Havana, Cuba and met Fidel Castro.

FYI Gene Mauch is second from the left on this photo below.

Many Hall-of-Famers had more than a cup of coffee with the Millers and played in Nicollet Ballpark.
Willie Mays played the 1951 season with Millers and called center field in Nicollet park home.
Mays hit .477, belted 8 home runs, drove in 30 RBI's and scored 38 runs in 35 games with the Millers. He was called up to the Giants while on the road playing in Sioux City Iowa.

Orlando Cepeda followed Mays to Minneapolis and then to the Giants.

Below is a shot of the "Baby Bull" in action with San Francisco.

Ted Williams played for the Millers in 1938. Here he is in uniform.

Below is Teddy Ballgame in action, one of the greatest of all time.

Another Red Sox great, Carl Yastrzemski played for the Millers in 1959 and 1960.
Yaz in action.Rube Waddell played from 1911-1913 to keep his love of the game alive and make a living.
Below is a classic shot of Waddell.

Here is an early baseball card when he was with St. Louis.
Don't overlook the fact that Mays, Cepeda, Williams and Yaz were all first-class acts, it seems that a bit of "Minnesota nice" rubbed off on the boys while in town. Something else rubbed off on Waddell as he was a very strange character.

Lexington Ballpark was the home of the St. Paul Saints from 1897-1955.
It was on the block bounded by Lexington Parkway, University Avenue, Fuller and Dunlap. Home plate was originally in the southwest corner of the block.

Following a fire in 1915, a steel and concrete grandstand was built with the plate repositioned to the northwest corner. Lights were installed in 1937.

Below is a shot of the former location of Lexington Ballpark. Thanks go to Twin City Federal (TCF) Bank for the preservation of this site. They have also incorporated the history of the park and the Saints into their new bank building. The three story tower commemorates the Saints history including Lexington park. Well done and thank you TCF!

Below are some Hall-of-Famers that played in Lexington Ballpark.

First is Leo Durocher:

Lefty Gomez threw for the Saints in Lexington. Check out that leg kick. Roy Campanella gunned down would be base runners at second base.

And "Big" Duke Snider launched a few onto Fuller Ave.

Of course the Saints are still playing ball but today they play at Midway Stadium. After my next trip to Midway I will do a post on that stadium and hopefully the Metrodome. For now, here are some notable Saints of the modern era.

Darryl Strawberry attempted a return to the big show with the Saints in 1996. He was on track until he found a strip club on the west side of St. Paul.

And of course Ila Borders threw for the Saints in 1997.

Christy and I saw both Strawberry and Borders with the Saints but that is for another Blog.

Happy New Year!


Brad said...

Very cool history report on the ball parks, Keep up the good work and hopefully one of these years we will put together a trip to some cool parks with you.


Eric and Christy said...

We should take your boys to Cooperstown sometime.