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End of an era: Last Saints game in Midway scheduled

St. Paul SaintsWith a new ballpark on the way downtown, the St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) have scheduled their last home game at Midway Stadium: August 28, 2014.

It surely will be an event. For all its faults — uncomfortable seating, lack of amenities like suites and a larger press box, small clubhouses — a lot of history was made at Midway Stadium. It was where modern independent baseball was created, where an accident of nature (so to speak) led Marv Goldklang and Mike Veeck to set up shop instead of their first choice, Duluth. It was the centerpiece of the revived Northern League, brought to life by Miles Wolff and crew. Folks forget that 22 years ago a revived Northern League was not a sure thing: It took a lot of guts to invest in a startup league with absolutely no blueprint save taking advantage of old ballparks and open markets. That first season yielded many successes — three of the original six Northern League are still in the successor American Association, while three others host Northwoods League ball — and led to a successful expansion of indy ball that saw some bumps (the whole American Association/Northern League split was pretty ugly) before cooler heads prevailed and led to a strong national circuit in the current American Association.

So there will be some tears shed during that last Midway Stadium. Sadly, there won’t be any Pig’s Eye Pilsner to present during a era-ending toast — Summit Pale Ale or Grain Belt Premium will have to do — but there will be a lot of memories involved: pigs toting baseballs to home plate, coaches fighting it out in sumo outfits, and the trains rumbling beyond the left-field fence.

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