St. Paul's fields of All-Star dreams

  • Article by: DENNIS BRACKIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 29, 2014 - 6:39 AM

Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor, Jack Morris and Joe Mauer all started illustrious careers on the playgrounds of St. Paul.

hide

Billy Peterson coached both Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor in American Legion ball, and he still works with young players at Dunning Field in St Paul.

Photo: richard sennott • richard.sennott@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of stories leading up to the All-Star Game at Target Field.

--

When the All-Star Game last came to Minnesota in 1985, three American League players — Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor and Jack Morris — made sure they got a portrait together for posterity.

“It’s still one of my favorite pictures,” Morris said.

They were, years earlier, three kids from St. Paul, their youthful competitions overlapping. The 1985 All-Star Game found them together as American League teammates for the first time in their big-league careers. A fourth kid from St. Paul, Joe Mauer, has played in six All-Star Games and won three AL batting titles.

“To see this much talent from here and develop, baseball-wise, like they have, that’s amazing,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Being from the north, you don’t have the advantage of kids in the south with the weather, playing year-round and everything. You have to make your own advantages. And you have to be really good.”

Indeed, to have that much talent come from a single city — a midsized northern city, no less — defies all expectations. St. Paul is the only city to have two members of the 3,000-hit club in Winfield and Molitor, who grew up within five blocks of one another in the Midway area of St. Paul and are both in the Hall of Fame. Morris was one of the best pitchers of his era and could still be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee. Mauer, now the Twins’ first baseman, is the only catcher with more than one batting title.

It’s not a stretch to say that one day all four could be in the Hall of Fame.

“It’s a source of pride,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said. “Think about it: Three All-Stars at one time, and they all grew up near one another. I don’t know that there’s another community in the country that can say that.”

Not to rub it in, but name the best player to come out of Minneapolis, a much larger city than its Twin Cities counterpart. Stumped? You should be.

It might be Johnny Blanchard, a part of two World Series winners with the Yankees in the early 1960s. But Blanchard, who attended Minneapolis Central High School, never made an All-Star team and retired in 1965 with a .239 career average.

St. Paul’s list of major league players only starts with Winfield, Molitor, Morris and Mauer. Tom Johnson (Murray High School) went 16-7 with 15 saves for the Twins in 1977 before arm problems ended his career. Jerry Kindall (Washington High School) played nine big-league seasons. Jack Hannahan, like Molitor and Mauer a product of Cretin-Derham Hall, has played seven major league seasons. St. Paul also boasts hockey legend Herb Brooks and a Heisman Trophy winner, Chris Weinke.

More than coincidence

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, a longtime coach of youth sports who was instrumental in getting Target Field built, said he’s spent a good deal of time pondering why St. Paul has produced so many baseball players compared to Minneapolis. He believes it comes down to a philosophical difference between the parks departments of the two cities.

“The Minneapolis Park Board is not focused on athletics,” Opat said. “They’re focused on parks and trails and general recreation, but they’re not focused on competitive athletics. … The youth programs are just not as strong in Minneapolis. They haven’t been, dating back forever.”

Former Twins President Jerry Bell, once the North St. Paul parks and rec director, agrees.

“St. Paul has always been a sandlot kind of town, for kids and adults,” Bell said. “It’s always been more of a baseball town than Minneapolis, maybe not so much now, but years ago it certainly was.”

Molitor and Mauer, who grew up in the Lexington Parkway area of St. Paul, both talked of how St. Paul youngsters were often identified by the park or ballpark they were affiliated with, places such as Oxford, Highland or Dunning. Later that identification switched to Legion teams such as Attucks Brooks or Christie de Parcq.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Cleveland
Phoenix 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Dallas 6:30 PM
Detroit
Utah 6:30 PM
Miami
Orlando 6:30 PM
Boston
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Toronto
Memphis 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Portland
Houston 9:30 PM
Denver
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 3:00 PM
St Francis-NY
James Madison 6:00 PM
Ball State
SIU Edwardsville 6:00 PM
Campbell
St Francis-PA 6:00 PM
Duquesne
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida State
Catawba 6:00 PM
George Mason
Ferrum 6:00 PM
High Point
Hampton 6:00 PM
Illinois
Gardner-Webb 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
Longwood 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Arkansas State 6:00 PM
Miss State
Tennessee 6:00 PM
NC State
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Ohio State
Manhattan 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Robert Morris 6:00 PM
Toledo
Char Southern 6:00 PM
Wofford
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Barber-Scotia 6:00 PM
NC Central
Detroit 6:30 PM
UCF
Liberty 6:30 PM
UNC-Wilmington
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
Denver
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
Houston
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Milligan 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
USC Upstate 7:00 PM
Memphis
Alcorn State 7:00 PM
Murray State
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northwestern
Georgia State 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
TX-Pan American 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
Ill-Chicago 7:00 PM
SMU
Texas State 7:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
SC State 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Chicago State 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Northern Colorado 7:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Winthrop 8:00 PM
Auburn
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
Baylor
San Diego St 8:00 PM
Cincinnati
Eastern Mich 8:00 PM
Michigan State
Loyola Marymount 8:00 PM
Stanford
Incarnate Word 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Northeastern 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Central Arkansas 9:00 PM
New Mexico
Howard 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Portland 9:30 PM
UNLV
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Oregon
Grambling St 10:00 PM
Washington
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 21 1st Half 8:36
Campbell 14
Akron 3:30 PM
UCF
Richmond 3:30 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Montana 4:00 PM
Seattle
(7) Stanford 5:00 PM
Chattanooga
Florida A&M 5:30 PM
Southern U
Oklahoma 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
Savannah State 5:30 PM
Auburn
Northern Colorado 6:00 PM
South Florida
Youngstown St 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
Siena 6:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Vermont 6:00 PM
St Francis-NY
(1) South Carolina 6:00 PM
Hampton
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Texas Southern 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Northwestern 6:00 PM
UNLV
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Appalachian St
NC Central 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Drexel 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Cincinnati 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Alabama State 6:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Morehead St 6:00 PM
USC Upstate
Arkansas State 6:00 PM
Kent State
American Univ 6:00 PM
Manhattan
UNC Greensboro 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Arkansas-Monticello 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Prairie View 6:30 PM
Sam Houston St
McNeese State 7:00 PM
(3) Texas
Yale 7:00 PM
Wagner
Oakland 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Eastern Kentucky 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
SIU-Edwardsville 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
McMurry 7:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Portland 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
North Texas 9:00 PM
San Francisco
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Ervin Santana signing by the Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close