Nelson spent many Fourth of July nights with his family watching fireworks at Midway Stadium.
“I really enjoyed them,” Cole said.
The 6-7 lefthanded pitcher was part of a trade that sent former Twins outfielder Delmon Young to the Tigers, and Nelson and another player to the Twins. He was released by the Twins this spring. This season is his first chance to pitch in front of friends and family since high school.
Matt Meyer, pitcher, Rochester Mayo High School
On Meyer’s first trip to Midway Stadium in 2001, his high school team lost the Class 3A state championship in a 13-2 mercy-rule thrashing by Cretin-Derham Hall and a catcher named Joe Mauer.
Meyer didn’t return until he signed with the Saints in 2010, after his release by the Cleveland Indians. After 21 innings with the Saints, he was picked up by the Angels organization and eventually rose to Class AAA before his release. He’s back in St. Paul looking for a third chance.
George Jensen, pitcher, Eastview High School
Jensen’s first Saints game ended early. His Eastview baseball team attended a game, but the then-sophomore and his dad headed for the parking lot well before the final pitch.
“It was fun, but it was different,” Jensen said. “When I thought of baseball [at that age], I thought of huge stadiums, tons of fans. I just wasn’t used to something this small.”
He’s used to it now, having spent the past three years playing in the minor leagues.
Luke Anderson, pitcher, Prior Lake, North Dakota State University
At a neighbor’s invitation, Anderson and his family took in his first Saints game when he was in third grade. He didn’t return until he signed with the team a year ago.
“I never got the gist of what [independent league] was,” said Anderson, who signed with the team out of college. “I never really heard about [the Saints]. I still find myself explaining to my friends the types of players that are here. It’s kind of difficult to explain.”
Dustin Klabunde, pitcher, McLeod West High School, University of Minnesota
For all of the trips in Klabunde’s youth to the Twin Cities that ended at the Metrodome, including his years with the Gophers, he said he “hadn’t been to a Saints game until they signed me.”
After throwing a bullpen for the Saints coaching staff last summer, he and a friend stayed for a game. He described what he saw as a “circus.” The promotions continued for his first appearance with the team. It was “Mighty Ducks” night and he was proud to wear a Ducks jersey. “It’s a great [movie] trilogy,” he said.