The Twins will play in Target Field for the first time on Friday, and the current generation of Minnesota baseball fans will marvel at how many historical homages a new ballpark can hold.
For the baseball fans of St. Joseph, the most meaningful baseball history in Target Field is contained in one faded photo, one picturing the St. Joseph town ball team from, it is believed, 1925. The photo hangs in Target Field's Town Ball Tavern.
"When my son told me about that photo, I said, 'That's impossible,' '' said Lloyd Pallansch, 70. "My grand nephew sent me that picture and asked if I knew any of those guys from that old St. Joe's team, and I said, 'My dad's on there.'
"My Dad was crippled shortly thereafter and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.''
Town ball might be the most enduring tradition in St. Joseph, a tradition that, as the old photo suggests, united a town and linked generations.
Mike Pallansch, Lloyd's son, put it this way: "Baseball was a glue to entire communities in Minnesota, especially in the '20s and beyond. Baseball not only entertained but became a source of pride for entire communities. Immigrants like my grandparents settled in Minnesota and worked hard. Some played hard, too ... in the ballpark.''
Mark Pallansch, Mike's brother, put it this way: "The original St. Joe baseball field was a block or two behind my mother's house. There are stories where the kids and Grandpa Mike and Grandma Hildegarde would watch the baseball games from the upstairs windows of their house. Some time later, it was decided to move the baseball field to its current location, which happens to be across the street from my Dad's house.
"Hildegarde never missed a game, and kept her own scoreboard. She had her 'reserved' parking spot at the ballpark, and it was very common for her to be watching the St. Joe game and keeping book, while listening to the Twins on the car radio at the same time.
"I was a third-generation St. Joe baseball player. Both of my grandpas played together before they were even married, much less had kids. There already have been fourth-generation players, all on the Pfannenstein side. My Dad was an only child and I don't have any sons, so I'm the last of the Pallansches to play for St. Joe.
"Millions of people will look at the picture that includes both of my grandpas. They will not know who these men are. I never knew them. I have only seen a handful of pictures of each of them. It's really a neat feeling to have a picture of both my grandpas on the wall at Target Field, and I can't wait to get there and see them.''
Gladys Schneider, Mark's aunt, has handled the town ball team's money for years. Her son, Pat Schneider, manages the St. Joe team. Last year, she celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary by taking a group of 60 people from St. Joe to the Metrodome in September.
"There's nothing like baseball,'' she said. "I got involved when I was probably 13. There were always crowds at the ballpark. You picture a little town, it was almost like 'Field of Dreams,' where we had two sets of bleachers, and they'd be full, and then you'd have cars pulling up. We built our house on the same spot where that baseball field was.
"Years ago, town ball was what we had. Everybody was pretty poor. We didn't know it, but we were. That photo, I'm awed by it, because we are such Twins fans.''
Lloyd recently left Fort Myers, Fla., where he plays on a 55-and-older team in the winter. He has played in the Twins fantasy camps, and befriended Bert Blyleven.
He found his wife's father in the photo, but it was the image of his father as a young, healthy man who had survived World War I that transported him.
"My father would play ball with me, sitting in the wheelchair,'' Lloyd said. "I had to throw pretty accurately, because if I threw wildly, I had to go chase it. So I developed pretty good accuracy.
"I can't wait to get to Target Field to take a look at that photo. It really is overwhelming, just to think about it.''
Jim Souhan can be heard at 10-noon Sunday on AM-1500. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org