Limited posting today, as we’re off to Minneapolis for the MLB All-Star Game. To set the stage for the game, here’s a look at the first time the event was held in Minnesota: the 1965 All-Star Game at Metropolitan Stadium.
In the early 1960s, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area was in the midst of unprecendented growth: with a growing population and a strong corporate base that included the likes of Honeywell, Cargill, General Mills, 3M, Control Data, Dayton-Hudson, Northwest Orient Airlines and Pillsbury, the Twin Cities was one of the hottest markets in the United States. Talent was flowing in from around the world.
Including sports talent, with both the Minnesota Twins and the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings beginning play in 1961. The Twins team was a transplant, with Calvin Griffith moving the Washington Senators to an expanded Met Stadium. The ballpark was built in 1955-1956 to attract a major-league franchise, with the original ballpark consisting solely of the three-story grandstand. The first inhabitants of the Met were the Minneapolis Millers of the old American Association in 1956. In the mid-1950s, the Twin Cities civic leaders considered themselves ready to enter the “big leagues” and launched a pursuit of major-league football and baseball teams. To further these efforts, the Baseball Committee of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce paid $478,899 for 164 acres of farmland in rural Bloomington to be used to build a baseball stadium for a major-league ball team.
Twin Cities leaders targeted several owners, with Bill Veeck and Horace Stoneham expressing interest in the Twin Cities and Stoneham – who by that time owned the Millers and had real-estate investments in suburban Minneapolis – coming the closest to moving his New York Giants to the Met before Walter O’Malley convinced him to move to California along with his Brooklyn Dodgers.
After Branch Rickey’s Continental League agreed to place a team in Minneapolis, MLB officials countered with expansion (Washington and Los Angeles in 1961, New York and Houston in 1962) and allowed Washington owner Calvin Griffith to move his Senators to Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The Twins were a hit, and Met Stadium was expanded several times in the next decade; the two-deck section in left field came at the behest of the Vikings a few years down the road.
With the Twins a hit, it became natural that an All-Star Game would follow. On July 13, 1965, baseball’s stars — some 18 future Hall of Famers — were on hand for the game, won 6-5 by the National League. The internationalization of the game was on clear display, as shown by the photo above, with the eight Latin-American players on the rosters (l-r): Felix Mantilla, Roberto Clemente, Tony Oliva, Cookie Rojas, Juan Marichal, Zoilo Versalles, Vic Davalillo and Leo Cardenas. Marichal was the game’s MVP, starting for the American League and throwing three shutout innings. Sandy Koufax ended up with the win after Ron Santo singled in the winning run. Hometown hero Harmon Killebrew homered to tie the game, and Tony Oliva made a bid to score the tying run after doubling off Bob Gibson leading off the bottom of the ninth.
It was a good year for the Met. After the All-Star Game, the ballpark also hosted four games in the 1965 World Series, won by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sandy Koufax, pitching on two days’ rest, led the Dodgers to a Game Seven win at the Met, outdueling Jim Kaat, also pitching on two days’ rest. The Dodgers won, 2-0, with the margin of victory provided by a Lou Johnson home run. In the end, 1965 probably was the best season in Met Stadium history; the Twins would win divisional titles in 1969 and 1970, but would not make another World Series appearance until 1987, long after the team’s move to the Metrodome. The Met would be torn down in early 1985, replaced by the Mall of America. Still, the memories of Met Stadium live on: the original Met Stadium flagpole is installed at Target Field, and there are plenty of Met Stadium photos and displays throughout the new home of the Twins.
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