The weather still might feel like winter, but baseball teams across the metro are thinking spring training.
In honor of the change of seasons, here are more photos from the American Legion collection (that I wrote about here.) You guys did such a great job of identifying all the players in those photos that I hope you can do the same for these.
As you can see, this photo is identified as the 1955 State Champions. This was a first for the Edina American Legion, whose teams also won the state title in 1969, 1982, and 1983, (when Edina also took the national title.)
I think the players are the same guys in this more formal portrait (below) that I published on the blog last March. Although the photo was not dated, readers determined that the year was 1955 based on the people in the photo.
Our readers came through with names for all the players. Back row L-R: Kent Larson, Tom Moe, Larry Johnson, Dick Siebert Jr., Bill Strout, Tom Kelly, Bill HIbbs. Front Row L-R: Don Myers, Jay Diebolt, Butch Nielsen, Dave Sehlin, Tom Mulcahy. Bat boy Fenn George. Thank you to the following for their help identifying the players: Pat Barker, Charles Brown, Tom Kelly and Ray Hibbs.
This photo (below) was marked 10th District Champs 1961. Any Edina grads from the early 1960s could probably name these guys.... I hope. If you can, please comment here or email me.
If you have team or action photos from any Edina sport that you'd like to share or donate, please email me. Sports are big in Edina, and we'd like to make sure our collection reflects that.
While most Edina Twins fans know that beloved player Harmon Killebrew was memorialized at Target Field with a #3 etched in the dirt by second base, they may not have noticed a tribute closer to home. Bill Hanley, full-time maintenance employee for the City of Edina, painted the number 3 on the hillside at Courtney Fields as a tribute to the Hall of Famer, who recently died of cancer. The number is seen in the background of this Babe Ruth game played in late May.
DIck Siebert, University of Minnesota photo
The strength of the game of baseball in Minnesota today, from the little leagues to the high schools to American Legion programs and to colleges, is attributable to Dick Siebert’s preaching his "gospel of baseball” in countless clinics and seminars. ~ Rich Arpi, The Baseball Biography Project, Society for American Baseball Research
Dick Siebert is best known for his illustrious career coaching Gopher baseball. After playing professional ball intermittently over seven years, Siebert was hired in 1948 at the University of Minnesota and became the winning-est coach in Gopher history with a 754-361-6 record and a .676 winning percentage. His teams won three NCAA titles (1956, 1960, 1964) and 12 Big Ten titles. No wonder the U of M Baseball Stadium was named after him in 1979.
But Seibert became just as well-known throughout the state for his popular clinics. "Siebert and a number of his coaching colleagues began to hold clinics for coaches and players throughout the Upper Midwest. Coaches flocked to these clinics since many of them had played with and/or against Siebert and respected his baseball knowledge. While occasionally he spotted a player at these clinics who could help the Gophers, his real goal was to improve the level of play throughout the region," according to the SABR web site.
Seibert "brought the gospel of baseball" to Edina, as seen by the 1957 flyer (above) from our collection. Because Siebert lived here, his influence was even more pronounced.
His sons Dick Jr. and Paul both excelled at the game, and they helped their Edina teams complete great seasons. While in high school, Dick Jr. managed and pitched his Edina American Legion team to the state title in 1955. (He's pictured in the dark jacket below). He pitched for his father's Gopher teams and lettered in the 1957, 1958, and 1959 seasons. He didn't pursue a baseball career; instead, he became a prominent neurosurgeon.
Back row L-R: Kent Larson, Tom Moe, Larry Johnson, Dick Siebert Jr., Bill Strout, Tom Kelly, Bill HIbbs. Front Row L-R: Don Myers, Jay Diebolt, Butch Nielsen, Dave Sehlin, Tom Mulcahy. Bat boy Fenn George. Thank you to the following for their help identifying the players: Pat Barker, Charles Brown, Tom Kelly and Ray Hibbs.
Siebert’s younger son, Paul, was highly recruited as a high-school pitcher and decided to attend Arizona State University. Paul was drafted in the third round by the Houston Astros in the 1971 amateur draft. He had a brief major league career (87 games) with the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, and New York Mets between 1974 and 1978.
Siebert was part of the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" in New York. On June 15, 1977, the Mets traded Dave Kingman to the San Diego Padres for Siebert and Bobby Valentine, sent Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman, and Mike Phillips to the St. Louis Cardinals for Joel Youngblood. Siebert split the rest of that year as well as 1978 between the Mets and the minor league Tidewater Tides.
Dick and his son Paul are among more than 100 father-son players in the Major Leagues.
Do you remember the Siebert family? Did you attend any of Dick Siebert's clinics? Did he coach or assist any of his son's teams? I'd love to hear from you. Please contact me if this post prompts any memories.
The University of Minnesota Athletics web site has great info about Dick Siebert, including this video showing Siebert teaching baseball techniques.
The Edina American Legion Post 471 entrusted the Edina History Museum with a few items for past exhibits: loaning us the national championship baseball trophy and flag from 1983 for an exhibit on Edina's early suburban years, and scrapbooks and photos for "Edina's Greatest Generation" exhibit currently on display.
The organization recently decided to hand over its entire collection because members felt we had proven we would take care of the items for future generations. I am honored by their trust, and credit our volunteers who cleaned and restored the trophy and reviewed unlabeled photos to identify former Legion officials and events.
In the museum business, we not only work to preserve the artifact, but we also spend a great deal of time preserving the story. For example, among the items were two award folders presented to the American Legion State champs. The folders include a nice black and white photograph (below) and the Code of Sportsmanship - but surprisingly no year or names of the players.
The Edina Legion web site lists state titles for 1955, 1969, 1982, and 1983. This photo has to be from 1955 or 1969. Legion members are now trying to hunt down people who remember those players and can provide names to those faces, as well as any information about the teams. If you know these athletes, please contact me.
Update: Our readers came through with names for all the players. Back row L-R: Kent Larson, Tom Moe, Larry Johnson, Dick Siebert Jr., Bill Strout, Tom Kelly, Bill HIbbs. Front Row L-R: Don Myers, Jay Diebolt, Butch Nielsen, Dave Sehlin, Tom Mulcahy. Bat boy Fenn George. Thank you to the following for their help identifying the players: Pat Barker, Charles Brown, Tom Kelly and Ray Hibbs.
I am finding all sorts of great treasures in the Legion scrapbooks. This aerial view by photographer Dick Palen (photo below) shows the 1940s Village Hall (on the right) and the American Legion hall (left). Fiftieth Street runs left to right at the top and Eden Avenue is in the foreground.
For those good with directions and maps, you will have noticed that today's City Hall is in this approximate location. (I'll save the city hall story for another day. In the meantime, you can read Joe Sullivan's column on Edina's village halls in the Summer 2003 issue of the city's quarterly newsletter "About Town.")
Isn't it a cool photo?
Here's another great photo, below. Memorial Day, year unknown, in front of the Minnehaha Grange Hall, which was just to the west (left) of the Legion hall. One of our visitors saw this photo on the wall and said, "I bet with a magnifying glass and some time, I could name most of the people in this photo."
He was a little taken aback by how quickly I suggested he do just that.
All I can say, don't make idle suggestions around museum staff with a stack of photos needing identification. We get a little desperate.
Despite the amount of time involved, I do enjoy documenting the photos. Our visitor, a former Grange member pointed something out in the photo below, that I may not have noticed. Take a look at the windows.
Did you notice the shutters? The Grange - like the Masons or the Elks and the like - were a secret society and kept the meeting hall's windows covered so that passersby couldn't see their activities. (Maybe Dan Brown could write his next book on those farmers in the Grange, huh?)
These three photos are just a tiny sample of the Legion records. We are happy to have them in our collection.
Last year, I took more than 1,000 photos at my son's baseball games. No, I didn't hold the zero key down too long. Yes, the comma is in the right place. Crazy as it may seem, I did shoot that many photos.
Just so you don't think I'm completely nuts, I hasten to add that I deleted hundreds of them and printed only a handful. But still, the 2009 baseball season is well documented for him and his teammates should they ever want to remember a mediocre finish to a pretty fun year when they were 11 years old.
If only I had a handful of photos for an amazing finish to a history-making season for the 1983 Edina American Legion team. Even though the team won the Legion World Series, the Edina Historical Society does not have one photo of their accomplishment.
And neither has anyone else, it seems. We're still trying to hunt down some photos from former players, the local newspaper and fans. If you have a great photo to share, please contact me. I hope to run a story and photo for our monthly "Last Glance" history feature in Edina Magazine.
On the plus side, we do have the October 1983 issue Edina Magazine (under different ownership) that spotlighted the team on its cover. We also have a DVD of the local cable television station's feature on the team. To make sure the 1983 season is remembered by the community, we have worked with the American Legion, which has been without a building for several years, to get the trophy and flag out of storage and on display at the Wayne Courtney baseball complex.
I'm sure that we'll eventually get photos. Even if there are no action photos, I know some mom or dad made those young men line up with their shiny World Series trophy so they'd always remember their 1983 season.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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