“The Saints are the most fun baseball experience you can possibly have in the world.”Bill Murray, Actor/Comedian
Just back last night from seeing games in 12 different MLB stadiums and 34 days on the road, today is technically day one of the fourth leg of The Great Baseball Ride. It doesn’t feel like it because it begins in our home area. We start what we are calling the I-35 Baseball Ride, exploring baseball in the heartland of America. I-35 goes from northern Minnesota all the way down to southern Texas and there are great baseball experiences along the way.
We’ll be exploring more MLB teams with the Rangers, Astros, Royals, and Twins. We’ll also be exploring other parts of baseball with the St. Paul Saints (minor league), the Duluth Huskies (college summer league), the Negro League Museum, and a number of Minnesota townball teams.
Our first stop along this trip started tonight with the St. Paul Saints. The Saints are an independent league minor league team. For the uninitiated, this means that it’s minor league baseball, but it isn’t affiliated with a major league club like most minor league teams are. The Saints have a rich history in St. Paul, but the team went away for a number of years and was re-created in 1993 when a group of businessmen formed what was then the Northern League. The Saints were apart of that new league.
Of those businessmen was Mike Veeck who’s father Bill Veeck was a legendary baseball executive known for wild promotions. Mike has followed in his father’s footsteps and has made Saints baseball an extremely entertaining experience. Tonights game, for instance, was “Fighting Saints Night” which meant that it was Slapshot themed. Players wore Slapshot-style uniforms and the Hanson Brothers were on hand for fun (the “old time hockey” Hanson’s, not the Mmmmm Bop Hanson’s).
Further adding to the entertainment, a pig named Daenerys Hoggaryen brings out the baseballs to the ump. They take the baseball seriously at the Saints games, but not too much else.
This was my first time at CHS Field, their new stadium as of 2015, and it was fantastic. My mom joined me for what was a very cold night at the ballpark, but still a fun one. We very much enjoyed exploring the stadium as well as cheering the Saints to their first victory of their new season.
As one would expect there are a number of food and drink options. The Carvery (carved chicken or steak sandwiches) came highly recommended as well as Steakadelphia (Philly Cheesesteaks).
Minnesota has over 100 craft breweries, and CHS Field makes many of the available with their Beer Dabbler craft brewery bar. You can select from one of 35 different brews each one costing $8, or you can get a flight of four six ounce beers for $20. We went with the flight and tried the Summit Oatmeal Stout Nitro, the Castle Danger Cream Ale, the Mankato Brewing Rhuby Sour, and the Tin Whiskers Key Lime Hardwired Hard Seltzer. The flight comes on with a solid wood souvenir paddle.
Summit is a Minnesota institution, and Castle Danger is becoming one, so I had had those drafts before; both are very good. The Rhuby Sour and the Hard Seltzer were exactly what you’d expect from their names. Both were good, but you have to be looking for their specific taste.
The Saints recently opened up a museum onsite called City of Baseball. This museum explores baseball in St. Paul, showing all of the wonderful players that have come through the city both in the Saints past form as well as the current. Roy Campanella, Leon “Bull” Durham, J.D. Drew, Rey Ordonez, Darryl Strawberry, Jack Morris, and Kevin Millar have all played for the Saints.
On this very cold night (40’s F), I very much enjoyed what is easily one of the best baseball experiences I’ve had. For $6 I got to enjoy a wonderful game, in a wonderful stadium, and in a wonderful city with my Mom.
We didn’t eat at the game as the cold night had my mind on one thing. Keke and I lived in St. Paul for years and I developed an affinity for a southern-style restaurant called Dixie’s on Grand. Fried Green Tomatoes, biscuits with honey butter, and their incredible white chicken chilli were calling my name.
The chilli in particular felt very appropriate on a “chilly” night. It was a great ending to a great night.