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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: Bill Veeck would love this gambit by his son

Mike Veeck and I weren’t exactly tight when he brought an independent baseball team to St. Paul’s Midway Stadium in 1993. I’m not an admirer of silly, and way too much of the Saints’ appeal was based on silliness.

In my opinion.

It was not an opinion shared by a faction of the Twin Cities’ sporting public, or a couple of Star Tribune editors, for that matter.

I took the cheap shots and the Veeck supporters fired back, and it was deemed by some to be a feud.

I didn’t see it that way. I saw myself as a media member providing needed perspective to the Veeck publicity machine.

More than once, I heard the theory that my usual spin on the Saints and Veeck had to be based on some lingering dislike for Bill Veeck, Mike’s father, and a controversial baseball man.

Now that was a beauty since Bill Veeck was responsible for three of my greatest moments in a ballpark. Namely:

*The Twins were in Comiskey Park for a series in the summer of 1977. The wonderful old park was full and rowdy. Veeck had the South Side Hitmen and the Twins had what I termed the Rod and Gun Club – Rod Carew and other big guns such as Lyman Bostock and Larry Hisle.

Those teams were fighting for first place in the AL West in mid-summer. A fight erupted in the second deck, in front of the press box. Veeck grabbed an usher and went hobbling through the seat rows to try to break up the fight.

Next thing we saw in the press box was Veeck disappearing into the melee, except for his wooden leg upright and towering above the combatants.

Hilarious.

*The White Sox lost Richie Zisk, Oscar Gamble and other “Hit Men’’ to free agency after the 1977 season. They went in the tank. Veeck decided to fire Bob Lemon on June 30, 1978 and replaced him with Larry Doby.

Veeck had integrated the American League by signing Doby for the Cleveland Indians in 1948, and now he was naming Doby as the second black man to manage in major league baseball.

Lemon’s firing took place at Met Stadium. Veeck and Lemon were close friends from Cleveland, when Bill was the owner and Lemon was a star pitcher.

There was a hospitality area at the Met known as the Twins Room. The alcohol flowed freely there, as I can verify first-hand.

While Doby managed his first game, Veeck stayed in the Twins Room and drank with his pal Lemon. There were reports of them singing tunes together by mid-game. I saw the pair after the game – the ex-manager and the owner who had fired him late that afternoon – and they were sitting, shoulder-to-shoulder, and keeping one another upright in their chairs.

Hilarious.

*In 1983, I went to Chicago to write a long piece on Bill Veeck for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He was out of baseball. We met on a sunny afternoon at Wrigley Field and sat in right-center field bleachers.

Veeck was shirtless and wearing shorts. I believe there was a sentence written that Veeck was displaying one leg that was tan and the other varnished.

That was as grand of a three hours as I’ve spent in my sports-writing life, watching baseball in Wrigley and hearing Bill Veeck’s stories.

So, that was it. I loved Mike’s dad in my meetings with him.

The Saints’ phenomenon waned. Mike went his way and I went mine. I might have mentioned him in a column a couple of times in the decade of the 2000s, but I’d have to check to make sure.

Maybe five years ago, he started pushing the idea of a new ballpark for the Saints. I thought he had less chance to win this battle than his one-legged father had to win his controntation years earlier against Comiskey ruffians.

I had Mike on the radio a couple of times to talk about this pipedream. What the heck? I had Tim Brewster on the radio a couple of times after he left the Gophers, and that dust-up had been more serious than anything that took place between Veeck and me.

As it turned out, I very much underestimated Mike Veeck. He was able to get St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman strongly on his side, and they found a perfect place for a tidy, minor league ballpark in the Lowertown area of St. Paul.

Basically, legislative approval of the Saints’ ballpark became the nod to St. Paul for needed votes for the Vikings’ stadium in Minneapolis.

However it came about, Mike Veeck’s vision of a ballpark for his independent baseball team officially became a reality on Thursday night with the American Association opener vs. the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks.

It was an outstanding night for a game. The ballyard was bursting. The beers consumed per capita had to be spectacular, including a long line for the “Thirsty Thursday’’ promotion featuring a stand with $1 cups of beer.

CHS Field is anexcellent addition to the Twin Cities’ expanding list of sports facilities. Congratulations, Mr. Veeck, I didn’t think you could pull it off.

Your dad would be proud.

Reusse blog: Not much help from young Twins in team's success

The Twins opened the season in Detroit on April 6 with three current 24-year-olds in the lineup: Danny Santana at shortstop and batting first, Kennys Vargas DHing and batting fifth and Oswaldo Arcia playing left and batting seventh.

Santana had played 101 games, the majority in center field, as a standout rookie in 2014. Vargas was called up for the last two months of the season and showed power in 53 games. Arcia played in 190 games over two seasons and also showed power, including 20 home runs in 372 at-bats in 2014.

The Twins entered Sunday’s game at Target Field at 21-16, and with 20 victories in their previous 30 games. Any suggestion the Twins could be above water after six weeks of play with a negative contribution from the younger third of the lineup would’ve seemed preposterous.

Santana has started 34 games (33 at shortstop). He has been no better than adequate in the field, showing range but also committing nine errors. He’s been better lately at the plate, although not what he was as a rookie.

He also has been a standout in comparison to Arcia and Vargas.

Arcia did wake up in late April and had a six-game hitting streak where he stopped flailing way. Then, on May 4, he went on the disabled list with what was diagnosed as a hip flexor strain.

To this point in the big leagues, Arcia has been a bad outfielder whether in right or left, and he has given away too many at-bats with wild swings. Yet, his biggest problem has been not being available.

It has been my contention the Twins set a bad precedent with Arcia at the end of first season in 2013. He bumped into the right-field wall during batting practice at the start of the season’s final week.

He was the DH in one of the last six games. Beyond that, he sat. Rather than send Arcia the message, “If you can play, you play,’’ it was, “If you’re not 100 percent, what difference does it make if you play at the end of a lost season?’’

The following spring, Arcia missed too much time in exhibition play with a minor malady. Then, he went on the disabled list April 9 with a wrist strain and didn’t come back until May 14.

This spring, he went through the same stomach ailment that afflicted numerous Twins, and missed more time than the others. Now, he’s on the DL with the hip flexor and it’s unlikely he will be back before June.

General Manager Terry Ryan was asked his view on Arcia missing extra-long periods of time with injuries and ailments. The question wasn’t asked that diplomatically, but that was the gist.

Ryan gave the traditional answer – that only a player knows for certain how his body feels – and that he trusts what the doctors tell him. He also said:

“Arcia’s still a young player and you’re hoping you can keep him on the field. It doesn’t help when he’s on the disabled list.’’

For sure, if Arcia is going to become a more professional hitter and competent outfielder, he’s going to have to be ready on a daily basis and not sporadically.

A couple of years ago, Arcia looked like a young hitter who was a sure-fire, middle-of-order power threat. Now, if the Twins were candid, they would say they don’t know what they have in Oswaldo … if he’s going to get what it takes to be a big leaguer and take advantage of the thunder in his wrists and forearms.

Vargas is huge and powerful and actually has fairly quick hands when he gets his pitch, but recognizing that pitch … that’s the problem. He breaks his back on far too many breaking balls. He has 30 strikeouts in 104 at-bats and manager Paul Molitor has been spotting Vargas in the lineup lately.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a move involving Vargas on the Twins’ road trip that starts in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

The Twins started 1-6 and have followed with five weeks of competitiveness. The fact they have done that with so-so play from Santana and with zilch from Arcia and Vargas changes that competitiveness from a surprise to a puzzle.

UPDATE: This blog was filed during the middle of Sunday's 11-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Vargas was optioned to Class AAA Rochester after the game.

Local Schedule

< >
  • Twins at Chicago White Sox

    1:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Fargo-Moorhead at Saints

    5:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Boston at Twins

    1:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Saints at Amarillo

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Boston at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Saints at Amarillo

    11:05am on 1220-AM

  • Boston at Twins

    12:10pm on 96.3-FM

  • Saints at Amarillo

    11:05am on 1220-AM

  • Toronto at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Saints at Laredo

    7:30pm on 1220-AM

  • Toronto at Twins

    1:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • New York Cosmos at Minnesota United FC

    7pm

  • Saints at Laredo

    7:30pm on 105.1-FM

Today's Scoreboard

< >
  • Seattle

    Toronto

    12:07 PM

  • Houston

    Detroit

    12:08 PM

  • Cincinnati

    Cleveland

    12:10 PM

  • Baltimore

    Miami

    12:10 PM

  • Oakland

    Tampa Bay

    12:10 PM

  • Milwaukee

    Atlanta

    12:35 PM

  • LA Angels

    Boston

    12:35 PM

  • NY Mets

    Pittsburgh

    12:35 PM

  • Philadelphia

    Washington

    12:35 PM

  • Minnesota

    Chicago White Sox

    1:10 PM

    FSN

  • St. Louis

    Kansas City

    1:10 PM

  • Chicago Cubs

    Arizona

    3:10 PM

  • San Francisco

    Colorado

    3:10 PM

  • San Diego

    LA Dodgers

    3:10 PM

  • Texas

    NY Yankees

    7:05 PM

  • Tampa Bay

    NY Rangers

    7:00 PM

    NBC Sports

  • Atlanta

    Cleveland

    7:30 PM

    TNT