All posts by Brian

Voice-over pro. Former broadcaster. Current president of Harrisburg Senators Fan Club. My passion is “baseball” – the strategic nine-player game (without a DH) where each player must run, hit and field.

More Fargo Treasures

As much as we enjoy baseball on UBT, we relish the opportunity to talk with folks along the way. Dawn Morton, a Redhawks usherette for 17 of the team’s 18 years in Fargo-Moorhead, asks us about our trip along the third base concourse.

Dawn Morton with Trippers - Newman Outdoor Field - Fargo, ND

Dawn traveled east to witness Punxsutawney Phil’s millennium prediction, but didn’t get to see a baseball game in Pittsburgh. (I think even I’d have to hesitate if the Buccos wanted to play in early February.)

The buttons attached to Dawn’s lanyard represent her name tags over the years. You’ll also find one button with a completely different name. That’s the name you’re to use if you have a complaint!

On the first base side, guarding the entrance to the suite deck, we strike up a conversation with Ed Fitzgerald. Ed also has been associated with the team for 17 years.

Ed FItzgerald with Trippers - Newman Outdoor Field - Fargo, ND

Soon after returning from the service, Ed won a golf tournament where he was teamed with members of the local television station. 30-some years later, Ed retired from that station. I concur from personal experience that your handicap can be a tremendous asset when seeking a position in broadcasting.

Ed casually mentions that he met Roger Maris and his family when Roger lived here. He also casually mentions that there’s a Maury Wills Museum under the ballpark. As rookies at Newman Outdoor Field, we would have never known.

Apparently, Maury visits each summer to assist on radio broadcasts and do a couple of appearances. Mitch and I miss an inning or so to head to the lower level where we see Maury Wills memorabilia and a televised looping interview featuring Maury stories.

Maury Wills Locker - Newman Outdoor Field - Fargo, ND

After the game, we say a fond farewell to Fargo, North Dakota. It’s time to begin the trek south to prepare for our Tuesday day-night doubleheader in two different cities.

The game cities alone span a 3.5 hour drive, but that’s merely the half of it. Literally.

Brian Williams
From Deep Short

Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks

Monday evening, June 3, 2013 – UBT Day Three Continues

Following a reflective and educational day in Fargo, we’re ready for baseball in another new park featuring another new UBT league: the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. On the campus of North Dakota State University, we pull into the parking lot across the street from Newman Outdoor Field.

Newman Outdoor Field - Fargo, ND

The clean, brick façade looks professional and inviting. Some tailgating with a taste from Mitch’s growler of North Country Brewing’s Firehouse Red ensue. Then, we cross the street and climb the stairs to the ticket window.

We walk onto an open concourse from behind home plate where a program vendor shouts from behind his stand. Newman offers a variety of food, but Mitch and I decide to help them boost their Dollar Dog Night promotion. Craft beer draughts are only $4.50 for 20+ ounces.

Newman Outdoor Field Action - Fargo, ND

The level of baseball impresses, too. Crisp defense and solid at bats.

Pitchers dominate tonight as the Lincoln Saltdogs dent the plate just once in the Redhawks 3-1 win. Jake Laber (2-1) picks up the win, pitching up to 89 mph into the 7th. Reliever Nathan Kilcrease whiffs four of the five Saltdogs he faces before two more penners salt away the win.

As impressed as we are with the on-field and concession products, Newman Outdoor Field offers more. Much more.

Brian Williams
From Deep Short

Fargo (Not the Movie)

Monday, June 3, 2013 – UBT Day Three

If you’ve never been to North Dakota, the new state, Redhawks baseball and ballpark provide reason enough to visit Fargo. This is also a very special place for baseball historians.

This is where Roger Maris called home. This is where Roger excelled in high school football and played American Legion baseball. This is where Roger Maris is buried.

Of course, he’s best known for breaking Babe Ruth’s season home run record with 61 in 1961. But you don’t need to be a Yankees fan to appreciate all of Roger Maris’ accomplishments both on and off the field.

Roger Maris loved to play baseball. He shied away from the limelight into which he was thrust.

He married his high school sweetheart, Pat, with whom he raised six children. If Roger would be with us today, he’d be my dad’s age. Instead, Roger never made it to my current age of 52.

When first approached about the idea for a museum in Fargo, Roger declined. Finally, he agreed, as long as everything was free to the public. That’s why you’ll find the modest Roger Maris Museum inside West Acres Shopping Center. But what a treasure!

Roger Maris Museum - West Acres Shopping Center - Fargo, ND

The little banners above the showcase windows represent each historical home run in 1961. The glass below reveals a photo of a smiling Roger with friend, Mickey Mantle; sports publication cover photos; a high school football jersey; many charity golf tournament pics; and, even a representation of Roger’s locker in the Yankee clubhouse.

 In a small room between showcases, visitors may sit in authentic stadium seats to view a looped biographical video presentation. Family and post-baseball footage add as much as Roger’s baseball clips.

Trippers inside Roger Maris Museum - Fargo, ND

Roger’s professional career stats adorn a wall beside the video presentation. You can read his quotes with photos on the adjoining walls.

Mitch and I enjoy this leg of the trip so much that — after lunch at Spicy Pie and a stroll through downtown Fargo — we drive to Holy Cross Cemetery. Roger’s grave site isn’t difficult to find. Shaped like a baseball diamond, the inscription “61 in ’61” and “Against All Odds” are etched beneath the MARIS name. Mementos such as baseballs, golf balls, McFarlanes of Roger as both a Yankee and Cardinal, and red flowers surround the site.

Brian Williams
From Deep Short

 

Go West

Sunday afternoon, June 2, 2013

Another ballpark where we’ve now enjoyed baseball. Another big home team victory.

Mitch and I leave Target Field to begin our three-hour journey to Fargo, North Dakota. You may be wondering how Fargo made it onto this itinerary.

As much as both of us have traveled, neither of us had ever set foot in either of the Dakotas. The Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks would add another ballpark to our list of “been theres” and we’re excited to see them play.

But there’s also a very important historical baseball reason. More on that in the next post.

The sun remains before us as we drive westward through Minnesota. 30 minutes prior to sunset, we cross the Red River into Fargo.

Paradiso Mexican Restaurant adjoins our hotel parking lot, providing the perfect venue for Red Sox-Yankees Sunday Night Baseball (and rain delays). The tasty food and Dox Equis Amber top off a terrific UBT Day Two.

Brian Williams
From Deep Short

We’re Back

“How do you pronounce ‘Tomah,’ Wisconsin?” Mitch asks the woman at the hotel’s front desk. “TOE’-mah” comes the reply. “Hell, if you live here.”

Seems quaint and peaceful enough to house the tripsters for the first night of UBT; plus, we always enjoy a fine sense of humor. Besides, Tomah — with its forests, farms and wooden lodges — gives us a jump on getting to Minneapolis when the gates open at Target Field. Sunday, June 2, features a 1:10 start to wrap up the Mariners series.

It isn’t that we’re any more eager to see a new Major League ballpark. It’s just that there’s more square footage to explore than in the more intimate venues.

We arrive soon after the gates open, but do we enter? Not on UBT. We take a stroll around the outside of the ballpark, which unveils several treasures: banners of many key Twins players over the years hang neatly on a fence toward a construction site; statues of the most highly regarded Twins dot the landscape at various gates; and, families are everywhere.Minnesota Twins Sign - Target Field - Minneapolis, MN

Today’s giveaway? A Josh Willingham jersey for the youngsters. We see lots of cute young fans, from infants to Little Leaguers, donning them throughout our stay.

And, it’s good they have that extra layer. A stiff breeze accompanies the bright sunshine all day.

Our seats are second deck in the shade in right field. Folks are wrapped in blankets.

After an inning or two, Mitch and I begin our trek around the inside of this fairly new park. It reminds me somewhat of Nationals Park, but is less conventional.Target Field Action - Minneapolis, MN

Nooks and crannies and small, exclusive sections dot the various tiers. Open concourses can accommodate large moving crowds.

One can enjoy the action all around the park on both levels as there’s plenty of room behind the seating. That’s our mission the remainder of the game. Areas in the sun feel most comfortable.Twins Lefty Connects - Target Field - Minneapolis, MN

I’m not sure if the wind assisted, but the home team launches four bombs to back Scott Diamond in a 10-0 shellacking. Mitch and I don’t believe the wind is a factor for any of them.

As the game winds down, we’re in center field, where a friendly usherette directs us to get our “First Time at Target Field” certificates. A pleasant couple asks about our trip. They notice our next destination, their home town.

Brian Williams
From Deep Short