MILROY: A Fifty-Year Love Affair
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1954 Mythical State Champion Picture
Champions and the New Field
Men Who Played
Decline of Town Team Baseball
Survival of Baseball in Milroy
CHAMPIONS AND THE NEW FIELD
In 1954 the Milroy Yankees achieved the unthinkable, the Mythical
State Championship, which is equivalent to today’s World Series in its
stature. In order for Milroy
to win the Mythical State Championship, they had to first win the State
Class B Title. Class B was
the division in which no players on the team could be paid.
This in itself seemed like a daunting enough task, considering
Milroy had only one state tournament game in their short history.
The Milroy team had now grown up; they had shown a passion for the
game that they had only picked up seven years before.
According to Spike, “we went out and practiced at least three
times a week, we wanted to become good.
We would hit an then pick up ground balls.”
They were ready to put Milroy on the map.
Milroy defeated four teams enroute to the Class B State
Championship: Perham 2-0, Hibbing 9-5, Warroad 19-3, and St. Joseph 11-2
in the championship game.
The second step to winning the Mythical State Championship was to
defeat the Class A state Champion squad from Benson.
In Class A baseball, teams were allowed to pay two outside players
to come in and be pitchers or catchers.
This allowed the Class A teams to have a distinct advantage over
the smaller Class B towns.
Despite the disadvantage, Milroy was able to become the first ever
Class B champion to defeat the Class A champion for the Mythical State
Title. Milroy overcame a
three run deficit to down Benson 4 to 3 in front of a crowd of four
thousand in Madison, Minnesota, on September 26, 1954.
Baseball was Milroy’s claim to fame after the tremendous 1954
season. The state champs had
brought notoriety to the small community, and Milroy would forever be
linked with baseball.
With pride overflowing, the community of Milroy decided to back the
team in a new way that fall by building a new baseball field.
Milroy’s original diamond was on Highway 68, or what is
considered main street in Milroy. Home
plate on the old field rested where Kirsh Korner is today, with right
field straight south alongside the road.
This location had presented problems for the ticket takers because
the park was not enclosed, and people would wander in from any direction.
According to the 1951 manager of the Milroy Yankees, John Kagel,
“with the old field right along the highway you would have a problem
collecting tickets. You
needed six to eight guys, I mean you would not believe the crowds.”
The old field not only presented problems for the ticket takes, but
parking was a problem as well. Many
stories were told of people going to church at ten o’clock, and parking
their car alongside the field, going to church and then walking home, just
to have a parking spot for the game later that afternoon.
Another story, probably a tall tale, had people parking their cares
on the highway the night before to insure a spot.
In the fall of 1954, the town of Milroy took donations from
thirty-five people and some businesses and purchased a plot of land from
Carl Rolland. The plot is
located on the southern edge of Milroy at the intersection of Highway 68
and Redwood County Road 32. The
donations the team received ranged anywhere from ten to one hundred
The money raised was enough to buy the land, but much work was
still needed to be done. Once
again the community pitched in and formed work groups to supply the labor.
Louis Dolan remembers:
The baseball players were up there [at the site of the new field],
the townspeople were there and then after six farmers would come in.
They would get together in groups and decide on a time and a whole
bunch of them would come on up. The
farmers would work in their fields until six, and then a group of twenty
or so would meet at the field. There
was people that hadn’t played baseball a day in their life up there
was a community thing as far as the work on the land,” recalls John
Kagel. “I know that my part
of it was sodding the infield. And
I got a group of businessmen together and we rented a machine and went out
about six miles south of town. Then
from a farmer by the name of Hicks, we got sod out of his pasture, and the
local implement dealer had trucks and trailers and we hauled it in.
This was in the spring of the year and us amateurs laid the sod and
watered the infield like crazy, that was the year we had a really dry
spring, but it stayed.”
The entire field, the grandstand, and the wooden outfield fence,
with painted on ads were all built within six months.
“The old diamond was a fair diamond, but nothing like this.
It sits out here by the road where everybody can see it, and
everybody was proud of it coming through on the highway.
The whole community was proud of it,” remembers Louis Dolan.
Even today, the field stands pretty much as it did that spring of
1955. The adds on the fence
have been repainted and the scoreboard is different, but the field still
brings smiles to the face of the originators of Milroy baseball.