January 16, 2009 – It was a sunny but cold day in January and I was researching some historical Minnesota Twins information on the Internet when I ran across a wonderful story about Calvin Griffith, the original owner of the Minnesota Twins and the man responsible for bringing professional baseball from Washington to the Midwest and to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It made no difference that Metropolitan Stadium the ballpark that the Twins would call home was actually miles away out by the airport and located somewhere out amongst the cow pastures in a suburb called Bloomington. Sadly, today that stadium is gone and now occupied by the Mall of America and the Twins are playing baseball on the concrete floor within the confines of the domed and climate controlled Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
The story “The Last of the Pure Baseball Men” was written by Michael Lenehan and published in the August 1981 Atlantic Monthly. Although a rather lengthy article, it is a fun and informative read as it looks at the life and times of the legendary Minnesota Twins owner Calvin Griffith. The story covers Calvin’s life and to a great degree I think explains why Mr. Griffith ran the club as he did. The article mentions many of the Twins former players and talks about their relationships with Calvin. Calvin Griffith has been gone now for a number of years and Carl Pohlad who bought the Twins from Calvin also recently has passed away.
I think as you read the article you can’t help but go back in time and picture in your mind what baseball was like in the 50’s, the 60’s and the 70’s. Back when players played for fun and pride and not the almighty dollar. Back when you knew that the players you watched come up from the minors would play for the home team for years to come unless they were traded. Sure, you had spring training hold-outs, but you didn’t have arbitration and the constant talk of how much an up-and-coming star was going to take to sign or you will lose him to free agency and the larger market teams. I am not condoning some of the practices of the owners back then because they obviously were unfair and you could argue they got what they deserved but now I think the pendulum has swung a bit too far to the players side. From my perspective as a baseball fan, baseball is still the best sport but the greed from both the ownership and the player’s side is wearing my patience a bit thin.
As I look out the window, it is a beautiful sunny day albeit a -5 degrees here in Plymouth, Minnesota and I can’t wait to hear the crack of the bat as the baseball goes flying out of the ballpark when spring training opens for MLB in just a few short weeks. In the mean time, take a few minutes and check this story about Calvin, his family, and his Minnesota Twins. In a way this is really a fitting time for this story, the article was originally written in 1981 as the Twins prepared to open their final season at Met Stadium and today we find ourselves in the same position as the Twins are getting ready to open their final season, this time in the Metrodome before they move to Target Field and play out door baseball once again in 2010.
You can find “The Last of the Pure Baseball Men” written by Michael Lenehan on his web site by clicking on his name, I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did.