Gladys and Donald Schneider, front, with children (from left) Bud, Pat, Barb (Fritz) and Mick at Target Field (Submitted photo)
Gladys Schneider denies that a loaf of bread purchased from a well-known bakery in Cold Spring was not permitted in her home.
“That’s not true,” she said. “I bought some loaves of bread from there myself. I just didn’t tell anybody.”
Gladys paused and said: “My brother did give me a case of Cold Spring beer once as a birthday present. He knew I wouldn’t drink it. Nobody in St. Joe would drink Cold Spring.”
St. Joseph and Cold Spring are 10 miles apart in Stearns County. Gladys’ suspicion of the neighboring town can be traced to the days when the Cold Spring Springers and the St. Joseph Joes were major town-team baseball rivals.
“I have to admit there were some Springers that weren’t my favorites,” she said. “That was quite a few years ago. We’re not in the same league anymore. We don’t play them, not even in the playoffs.”
Donald and Gladys Schneider were married in October 1949. They have four children, 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, with an 11th on the way.
In 2009, the family proposed celebrating the Schneiders’ 60th anniversary with a summer trip to the Metrodome to see the Twins, a ballclub to which Donald and Gladys are nearly as loyal as to the Joes. This has now become a family tradition: a barbecue at grandson Andy’s and a Twins game at Target Field. There will be a delegation of 50-60 family and friends on Saturday for the Twins and the Cubs.
The Schneiders arrange to get seats within a short walk of the Town Ball Tavern. The reason: A photo on the wall of the tavern of a St. Joe’s team included Gladys’ father, Mike Pfannenstein.
Way back when, the St. Joseph team was called the Saints, then it became the Joes, switched back to the Saints, and now they are again the Joes. Gladys’ father played for St. Joe’s, as did four of her brothers — including Jerry, a catcher who played for the Gophers. The Schneiders’ three sons played for St. Joe’s, and so did two grandsons.
Son Pat has been running the St. Joe's baseball team for decades-- done so with such commitment that there's a campaign underway to try to get him voted into Minnesota's amateur baseball Hall of Fame.
Donald never played baseball for the Saints/Joes. “He grew up on a farm and didn’t have time,” Gladys said. “He said his baseball was throwing a ball against the barn. He would’ve been a good pitcher. He’s a lefthander.”
What’s interesting about Donald’s non-playing status is that the ballpark in St. Joe’s was renamed Don Schneider Field in honor of the 50 years that he spent maintaining the field. Donald’s work at the ballpark is legendary but perhaps not quite as famous as Gladys’ fandom for the St. Joe’s ballclub.
Grandson Andy, who played for St. Joe until he was 30, put it this way in an e-mail:
“Grandma has settled down a little, but years ago, she was the feistiest, loudest yeller in all of Stearns County. There were a number of instances where my grandfather had to intervene between her and another fan when they were going at it.
“The games played against Opole, Avon, Cold Spring … those were the most important thing in town. Talking to her today, you would never guess she could be like that.”
Gladys was asked to confirm this reputation for feistiness on Friday.
“I was very vocal in support of St. Joe,” she said. “I never said anything derogatory about one of the players.”
How about a rival player? “No comment,” she said.
The Schneider family sees Saturday’s trip to Target Field as a special occasion. Gladys has cancer and it’s iffy if there will be an opportunity for another anniversary trip to a Twins game in 2016.
“I’m having health issues, but I’m just hoping that the Lord doesn’t need any extra baseball fans in heaven right now,’’ she said.
Donald and Gladys used to make a few annual trips to Met Stadium for the Twins, including a World Series game in 1965.
“It’s a lot easier to watch on television now,’’ Gladys said. “We never miss a game. I have the same attitude as I do about the Joes: They are my boys.”
Even Joe Mauer, when he’s in a slump?
“Well, certainly,’’ Gladys said. “Once in a while I might say, ‘C’mon Joe,’ if he doesn’t deliver, but he came through like a trouper yesterday [Thursday] with that home run, didn’t he?
“Joe’s a home boy. We have to be on his side, always.’’