Remembering the Midway

Remember the Midway Stadium?

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How many of you readers have a favorite Midway Stadium memory? Some of you, I’m sure, go all the way back to the old Midway Stadium built in 1956 on a gravel pit east of Snelling. Share your favorite memory with readers by emailing news@MonitorSaintPaul.com.
How many of you readers have a favorite Midway Stadium memory? Some of you, I’m sure, go all the way back to the old Midway Stadium built in 1956 on a gravel pit east of Snelling. Share your favorite memory with readers by emailing news@MonitorSaintPaul.com.
Maybe you saw a famous person there? Anybody in the stands the day that Gene Mauch, the Minneapolis Millers Manager, and later the Minnesota Twins, stormed into the stands and got into a fist fight with a fan? Is it possible someone out there even knows whom the fan was?! All I know is that he was a regular at Saints games, sat near the field, knew his baseball, and was good at getting the goat of opposing players.
I was there the day Eddie Feigner, the King and his Court, played a Twins team headed by Zoilo Versalles. Eddie Feigner (The King) threw a softball underhanded faster than any Major League pitchers of his day. He had just three teammates (The Court) behind him in the field; but I don’t remember who won. Anybody remember who did, or the score?
There are great music events some of us might want to recount as well, but first I want to fit in one more baseball story - the day I met Hap Holmgren, the long-time Municipal Athletics Director who officed out of Midway Stadium. It was in 1979, on my first day back from law school out east. I needed a job while I studied for the bar exam, and thought umpiring could be kinda fun. It was 11 a.m. on a Friday, and first thing Hap said, was: “Can you do the North St. Paul vs. Stillwater game at 1 o’clock this afternoon?” That sounded like the long and the short of the job interview, so of course I said yes, but I didn’t have a car, didn’t have a ball-strike indicator, didn’t have time to go buy a blue umpires shirt. Instead just hopped the bus that took me out to North St. Paul on Highway 36.
Got there in time. I was supposed to be the base ump, but the home plate ump hadn’t yet arrived by game time, so I called the opposing managers to the mound and said, “Without a chest protector I will call the game from behind the pitcher. Does anybody have an indicator? I haven’t kept up with rule changes - just let me know if something comes up - but I do have excellent judgment. Batter up!”
It was the top of the first. A Stillwater better cracked a deep one to right. I thought it got over the fence and couldn’t wait to show I knew the home run signal, circling my right arm in the air. But, unfortunately, the ball didn’t clear the fence, and instead the North Saint Paul right-fielder picked it off the wall on one hop and twirled to make a great throw to second base. Meanwhile, the batter saw my signal and broke into his home run trot. Out at second base on a perfect throw, right? Wrong - ground rule double I ruled. Both managers strolled to the mound and I began hearing derisive remarks from the players and fans. “Thought you said you had great judgment. Son, there’s always time to make the home run call. Next time make sure it’s over the fence.” Fortunately the home plate ump showed-up just then, saving me from ongoing derisive remarks from the players and fans, and I was happy to be relegated to just dong the bases.
My favorite memory of a music event is the June 1971 Open Air Concert at the old stadium featuring Muddy Waters, John Sebastian, the Allman Brothers, and local musician Tony Glover. Maybe you were there too? And want to tell how much fun it was? Or maybe you saw The Replacements or Bob Dylan at the new (circa 1982 to 2015) stadium?
In 1971, I was 21 and about to start senior year at Hamline. My friends and I couldn’t believe it! – a Woodstock happening just two blocks from Hamline! That’s me in the photo from that day with Mary Joy Giblin on my shoulders, who later became the Editor of the Biwabik Times. Yeah, I was a total hippie that year.
Andy Dawkins has lived in the St. Paul Midway for the past 50 years. He is a retired attorney who served 15 years in the Minnesota State Legislature followed by four years working for the city of Saint Paul as its Director of Neighborhood Housing under Mayor Randy Kelly.
Share your favorite memory with readers by emailing news@MonitorSaintPaul.com.

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