“Have fun, you’re in the Town of Baseball.”Dundas Dukes
In a town of about 1,500 people about 45 minutes or so South of Minneapolis, you’ll find a baseball treasure. Dundas, Minnesota is the self-proclaimed “Town of Baseball.” This is Minnesota Town Ball. We wrote about town ball in a previous post for the Miesville Mudhens. To recap, town ball is amateur baseball played all over the state of Minnesota each summer. Minnesota is the town ball leader in the U.S. with around 300 teams participating; no other state has near that many.
The Dundas Dukes play their home games at Memorial Park, which sits on the banks of the Cannon River. A good poke to right and you can send a baseball down stream. The stadium itself is wonderful. It’s a testament to what beauty can be created if a community cares enough to come together, and this community cares about this team very much.
There are no gates to pay to get in at. You simply walk in, sit down, and enjoy the game. Around the fifth inning or so, they “pass the hat” and you drop in whatever donation you want to drop in. Of course some will pass that hat right on by without contributing, but I suspect many end up contributing more than if they took tickets at a gate.
Concessions are very reasonable. I would highly suggest getting a craft beer served on tap at the game from local brewer Chapel Brewing. This years selection was the “Duke’s Ale,” which I really enjoyed, and I can also say that I very much enjoyed last years “Short Hop.” If you head down to Dundas and want to enjoy more from Chapel Brewing, stop in pre-game at the brewery.
The Dukes are good, very good. They have won the Minnesota State Amateur Class B Title five times and have been runners up eight times (updated for their second place finish in 2019). The team will largely be made up of ex-college players, but you’ll get an occasionally ex-minor leaguer as well (some town ball teams will have ex-MLBer’s).
The 2019 Dukes team has three former minor league players. One ex-minor leaguer is player/coach Charlie Ruud. Charlie played five seasons of independent minor league baseball with the, Bill Murray (partially) owned, St. Paul Saints (profiled here). At one point, and he still may be as I couldn’t find updated stats, he was the Saints all-time leader in four pitching categories (wins, starts, innings, and complete games).
Strangely enough, I had seen Charlie pitch when he was in high school a number of years ago. He is from the same small town (Cannon Falls) as some of my extended family is, and he played high school ball with one of my cousins. That game was played at the now destroyed H.H.H. Metrodome. Stranger yet, he recently became one of the pastors at our church in South Minneapolis. It’s a small world. The St. Paul Pioneer Press dubbed him “the preaching pitcher” in a 2009 article (view here).
The night we visited the Dukes, they were playing Cannon Falls and were the victors 4 – 2. We certainly were interested in the game, but as we’ve stated many times, the game is only part of the baseball experience, and we savor all of it. This night, we brought three family members with in addition to the three of us and we loved getting to share the time with them. A beautiful night, a wonderful game, and terrific company.