Road-weary Gophers baseball team ready to take it outside

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 25, 2014 - 11:55 PM

The Dome is rubble, so the Gophers baseball team had to hit the road for 20 games. Finally, the home portion of the schedule might begin Friday.


Carlos Clark, foreground, and Angelique Simons were among a crew removing snow at Siebert Field on Monday. The Gophers are scheduled to play host to Michigan State this weekend.


CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

John Anderson doesn’t need to look at the Minneapolis skyline to see the hole created by the demolition of the Metrodome. The Gophers baseball coach has felt it every day.

With the Dome gone — leaving the team to play all its home games at outdoor Siebert Field — the Gophers’ home schedule was reduced from 34 games last season to 18 this spring. They began the season with 20 consecutive road games in six states while Siebert Field was buried under two feet of snow. The home opener against St. John’s on Wednesday was postponed, and the weather also could affect this weekend’s Big Ten home series against Michigan State.

The constant travel has been exhausting for players and expensive for the program. The loss of the Dome also has forced the Gophers to practice in the football facility, where they must share space with several other teams. Yet they are 13-7 after winning two of three games against Northwestern last weekend, easing the pain of their adjustment to life outside the comfortable bubble of the Metrodome.

“I had tears in my eyes when I walked out of the place for the last time, because I knew it was going to change the way we do things in our program,” said Anderson, in his 33rd season as Gophers coach. “We’ve had some challenges on the road. I’m proud of our kids. They’ve embraced it.

“I told the team it’s a miracle, almost, that we’ve been able to go 13-7 with playing on the road, the travel and significant injuries to key players. We have a resilient group and a tough group.”

Digging out

Scott Ellison, the Gophers associate athletic director for facilities, said four groundskeepers and a crew of temporary workers spent last week clearing the snow from Siebert Field’s playing surface. Tuesday, they still were digging out the bleachers, which were underneath 3 to 4 feet of snow in some places.

The players were grateful to be home, despite the weather. They began the season with trips to Arizona, Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina on consecutive weekends before an extended spring-break journey to California and Missouri. The Louisiana trip included canceled and missed flights, a connection to Dallas through New York City, a seven-hour bus ride through an ice storm and three games crammed into 24 hours.

Anderson said the additional expenses of all those extra road games required a 50 percent increase in the team’s budget. The loss of the Metrodome as a practice site also has created challenges. The football facility is not an ideal space for baseball workouts, and the team gets a limited block of time each day.

“At the Dome, we could get a full practice in and take live batting practice,” said pitcher Ben Meyer, a junior who leads the Gophers with a 2.13 ERA and 25 strikeouts. “We’ve been doing what we can. The coaches say, ‘Control what you can control.’ We’ve been playing pretty good baseball so far, given what we’ve had to work with.”

The Gophers also have been coping with injuries to experienced players such as catcher Matt Halloran, relief pitcher Ty McDevitt and first baseman Dan Olinger. Anderson lauded the young players who have stepped in and others who have switched positions, such as third baseman Mark Tatera, who has filled in well at catcher. While the offense has been inconsistent, Anderson said, the pitching staff has an ERA of 3.27 — third in the Big Ten — and helped the Gophers go 6-2 in their past eight games.

Waiting for 2016

The Gophers will continue to be early season frequent fliers at least until the new Vikings stadium opens in 2016. Anderson said he has not been told how many games the Gophers might be able to play there.

Because the new stadium is expected to be host to events such as NCAA basketball tournament games, he doubts his team will play there as often as it did in the Metrodome. He would be happy, he said, if the Gophers could get two home series per season in the new stadium, just to break up those long stretches on the road.

Until then, Anderson will be seeking ways to make the best of his team’s new circumstances. He already is thinking about finding another place to play a home series against Northwestern scheduled for late March next year, noting that in the 126-season history of Gophers baseball, the team has played six home games outdoors before April 1.

“What we can control is our effort and our attitude every day. We have to be flexible,” Anderson said. “Life is about overcoming adversity. And they’re getting some good lessons.”


  • related content

  • Chart: Gophers baseball schedule, then and now

    Tuesday March 25, 2014

    It was a long way homeThe demolition of the Metrodome left the Gophers baseball team without a cold-weather home, forcing...

  • Snow still filled much of Siebert Field on Monday, and the Gophers’ home opener against St. John’s scheduled for Wednesday was canceled.

  • Coach John Anderson wants his team to make the best of a tough situation. “What we can control is our effort and our attitude every day.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question