When I was growing up on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River about 70 miles north of the Twin Cities and just starting to follow baseball in the late 1950’s we had no TV at home so my sources of information about baseball were the radio, the Minneapolis and St. Paul newspapers and eventually The Sporting News. My parents were not sports fans and they pretty much felt that my interest in baseball was a waste of time that could be put to better use by doing more tasks around the dairy farm that we lived on.
For those of you that were raised on a dairy farm you know how hard the work can be. You started and finished each and every day in the barn milking the cows. You probably got up about 5 AM and went to bed between 10 PM and 11 PM before you started the process all over again the next day. There is no such thing as an eight-hour day, a sick day, a holiday or a week-end, every day is the same, work on a dairy farm is relentless.
We had a radio in the barn that was always tuned to just one station, 830 on the AM dial, the “Good Neighbor”, WCCO radio. Back then WCCO was one of the premier and most powerful radio stations in the country and in 1961 it became the flag-ship station for the Minnesota Twins. There might as well have been no dial on that old tube radio because the station was never changed, it was our source for news, weather and of course the farm reports but my favorite things on the radio were the Twins games and school closings.
The Minneapolis and St. Paul papers were not delivered out to farm country and we couldn’t afford it even if they did, fortunately our school library subscribed to the morning papers and every chance I had I would go to the library and check out the sports pages. One day I ran across a Sporting News at our local dime store magazine rack, Ben Franklin if my memory serves me correctly and I thought I had died and gone to heaven, page after page of baseball news that was published weekly. It took some time but I finally saved up enough money to get a subscription and I was hooked. Out where we lived there was no mail delivery so we had a PO box in out local community and when my parents went grocery shopping on Saturday’s they would stop off at the post office and pick up the mail and hopefully my copy of the Sporting News, my reading material for the next few days. I would read every single article on every single page, sometimes more than once and during baseball season I would spend hours studying the box scores. I continued to get the Sporting News until I graduated from high school and joined the US Navy. The Navy of the mid 1960’s didn’t share my love of baseball and we had no such thing back then as the internet so baseball and I parted ways for the couple of years that I spent on board the USS Shangri-La (CVA-38).
After my naval career came to an end I returned to Minnesota and started to follow baseball once again but I found that the Sporting News was now writing about other sports than just baseball and I didn’t like that at all and I have not subscribed to the Sporting news since 1965 but I still have some great memories of what has often been described as the Baseball Bible.
Now as the Minnesota Twins prepare for their 56th season I thought it might be interesting to look back in the archives of the Sporting News and see what they had to say about the Minnesota Twins back in 1961 as the former Washington Senators prepared for their first season of baseball as the Minnesota Twins.
When you look back on baseball history some things never change, the players want to be rewarded for their efforts with more money and the owners want to put what they can in their pockets. The process has obviously changed with “holdouts” a term long forgotten and arbitration, free agency, long-term contracts, and opt-outs are the terms we hear and read about every day. The Sporting News page I have for you talks about Jim Lemon‘s holdout, a rhubarb between the Twins and Dodgers, the expansion and new features at Met Stadium and booming Twins ticket sales. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.