This article was published in The National Pastime: Baseball in the North Star State (Minnesota, 2012)
This article illustrates the problems that existed in the 1884 Minneapolis Grounds, covering the social tensions that arose to legal difficulties that were created by the ballpark.
Every day, about a quarter of a million cars race east and west along a one-block-wide corridor sunk below grade a few blocks south of downtown Minneapolis. It is here that Interstates 94 and 35W meet and briefly merge, with twelve lanes of traffic and assorted ramps filling the space between Park and Portland Avenues on the east and west sides, and Seventeenth and Eighteenth Streets on the north and south. The noise and commotion at this block is significant and dramatic.
Just over 125 years ago, this same block was the site of different noise and commotion when it contained, for one short season, the 1884 Minneapolis Northwestern League ballpark. The cacophony here was exactly what one might expect near a nineteenth-century ballpark, with fans, vendors, traffic, and brass bands crowding into the space for the team’s home games, but this place created more than just ballgame-related sounds. The usual and expected chaos attendant to professional baseball was accompanied by social tensions and legal difficulties, and the ballpark became the proxy for this conflict.
While perhaps more pronounced than similar difficulties at other ballparks, what sets this ballpark and its story apart is the remarkable amount of surviving documentation. These resources reveal not only the story of the ballpark’s construction and brief use, but they also present a lively snapshot of professional baseball in the late nineteenth century.
In the fall of 1883, Minneapolis baseball devotees set out to organize a professional team for the following season. With high expectations, public organizational meetings were announced. Attendees at the first gatherings included a range of citizens: some were established businessmen and professionals from the city’s well-to-do families, while others were young middle-manager types. This relatively diverse group reflected widespread interest in the sport, and by November 1883, they had organized themselves and incorporated the Minneapolis Base Ball Association. Early enthusiasm waned, however, and as the months passed, the most prominent citizens largely disappeared from view, leaving the organization in the hands of the less-well-heeled clerks, bookkeepers, and bartenders.[fn]Minneapolis Base Ball Association Articles of Incorporation, November 1883. Minnesota State Archives: Secretary of State, Corporate Division, Incorporations Book I, 528, Minnesota Historical Society; Minneapolis Tribune, “Base Ball: A New Northwestern League,” September 22, 1883; Minneapolis Tribune, “A Base Ball Club,” October 24, 1883; Minneapolis Tribune, “Gossip About Town: The Base Ball Association,” November 8, 1883.[/fn]
The new association quickly embarked on the many tasks necessary to fielding a professional team. Chief among these was raising money to hire a manager and players and to build a playing space. Appealing to civic boosterism and the possibility of financial returns, the association solicited funds through public stock sales. Although a number of leading Minneapolitans bought shares of stock, the subscribers were not a small group of wealthy individuals with a clear business plan. Instead, funding came in small increments of voluntary support from a variety of individuals paying their stock assessments over time. Further, the stock offering was never fully subscribed; just under half of the shares were sold by the time the new ballpark opened in June 1884. This precarious financial model left the association and its team inadequately capitalized. They had insufficient support for their initial pre-season costs, and then insufficient revenues during the season to pay their operating expenses. Nevertheless, as the season began, organizers expected that high profile games with leading teams in the league—and especially with cross-river rival Saint Paul—would generate enough income to help them succeed.[fn]Minneapolis Tribune, “Gossip About Town,” October 24, 1883; Minneapolis Tribune, “The National Game,” October 30, 1883; Minneapolis Tribune, “Base Ball Stock: An Appeal to be Made to Business Men and Others,” January 26, 1884; Saturday Evening Spectator, “Home-Hitters,” June 28, 1884.[/fn]
In addition to finding financial backers from among the city’s baseball fans, it was essential to recruit talented professional players. This was a significant challenge in 1884. A dramatic national expansion of league baseball, including the formation of the putatively major league Union Association, meant that quality players were in demand. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association sought to affiliate itself with the relatively new Northwestern League (1883), which began its 1884 season with twelve teams from five western Great Lakes states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota. The Northwestern League’s territory was geographically large and included Lake Michigan, a significant travel obstacle. The U-shaped territory created a circuit range of about 2,000 miles, and the Twin Cities were far afield from Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw. Traveling so far north and west for a single series was not feasible for the other teams and so in order for any Minnesota city to have a team in this league, more than one city and team needed to join. As a result, three closely spaced Minnesota cities—Stillwater, Saint Paul, and Minneapolis— helped form the league.[fn]Minneapolis Tribune, “Base Ball: A New Northwestern League,” September 22, 1883; Minneapolis Tribune, “The Base Ball Club: Manager Tuthill Returns and Reports Everything Lovely,” January 3, 1884; Minneapolis Journal, “The National Game: The Expectations for Minneapolis Next Season,” January 3, 1884; Minneapolis Journal, “The Base Ball League,” January 8, 1884; Minneapolis Journal, “We are a League City,” January 10, 1884; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Base Ball: Minneapolis and St. Paul Admitted to the Northwestern League, Composed of Twelve Teams,” January 11, 1884; Minneapolis Journal, “Base Ball: The Question of Sunday Games,” March 22, 1884. Later, Winona would take a spot in the league as other teams folded. Saturday Evening Spectator, August 16, 1884.[/fn]
The tasks of league affiliation and player recruitment were entrusted to the team’s manager, Benjamin Tuthill (1861–1936) from Saginaw. A youthful manager who turned twenty-three as the season began, Tuthill was likely put forward for the job by Northwestern League president John Rust, also a Saginaw resident. While Tuthill’s baseball career was quite brief—a single season as Minneapolis skipper and a little bit of umpiring—his larger entertainment career was lengthy. After leaving baseball in 1884, he went immediately to the theater worlds of New York and Chicago. Tuthill spent the remainder of his long career as a theatrical agent and manager, marrying various actresses along the way and finding himself involved in the occasional lawsuit or controversy.[fn]Minneapolis Tribune, “Base Ball in Minneapolis,” October 19, 1883; Minneapolis Journal, “No Sunday Games,” January 18, 1884; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Scraps of Sport,” February 1, 1888; St. Paul Daily Globe, “All is Not Lovely in the Managerial Department of the ‘Said Pasha’ Company,” January 12, 1890; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Romance to Reality,” April 10, 1891; New York Sun, “Manager Tuthill Marries,” September 19, 1892; New York Clipper Annual, 1893, 6; New York Dramatic Mirror, “A New Stock Company,” January 5, 1898.[/fn]
Selection of the playing grounds was another essential task for the Minneapolis Base Ball Association. In December 1883, the Minneapolis team announced that they would play at a site about two and a half miles south of downtown, along Nicollet Avenue at Thirty-first Street. The place had been used for baseball before; in fact, as recently as July 1883, the non-league Minneapolis Brown Stockings had built a facility there. A dozen years later, in 1896, the site would be chosen to replace the downtown Athletic Park (1889–96) and would become the location of Nicollet Park (1896–1955), home for more than half a century to the Minneapolis Millers.[fn]Minneapolis Tribune, “Gossip About Town,” November 27, 1883, and December 12, 1883; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Twenty-Six to Three,” June 29, 1883.[/fn]
In 1884, these grounds were relatively remote and beyond an acceptable walking distance from the city center, but they were served by two independent transit systems. The steam trains of the Minneapolis, Lyndale & Minnetonka railroad, known as the Motor Line, ran from downtown Minneapolis to this block, and then turned west to the increasingly popular Minneapolis lakes and Lake Minnetonka. The area was also served by the Minneapolis Street Railway, a streetcar company that would soon electrify its lines and expand to encompass both Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s transit systems, operating for decades as the Twin City Rapid Transit Company.
Securing the ballpark’s location in the fall preceding the season was typical of this era, as was waiting until just weeks before the season began to actually build the facility. In this case, the common delay between fall site selection and spring construction allowed the association to change its mind about where to locate the grounds. The association criticized transit magnates Thomas Lowry of the Street Railway and William McCrory of the Motor Line for not buying baseball stock. Claiming that they should not be rewarded with ballpark-related transit business if they were not willing to invest in the project themselves, the baseball association reconsidered the grounds arrangement in late March and sought a location that was closer to the center of the city and less reliant on mass transit.[fn]Minneapolis Journal, “Sporting Gossip: The Base Ball Grounds,” March 31, 1884; Saturday Evening Spectator, “Home-Hitters,” June 28, 1884.[/fn]
They found an open area just south of the city’s grid change, where the street layout shifted from an angled alignment determined by the Mississippi River’s course to a more traditional compass-oriented plan. A full block of approximately six acres, the land sat between Park and Portland Avenues and Seventeenth and Eighteenth Streets, approximately one and a half miles from St. Anthony Falls and a fifteen-minute walk from the old downtown center.[fn]Minneapolis Tribune, “The City,” April 17, 1884; Saturday Evening Spectator, “Spectator About Town,” April 19, 1884; Minneapolis Tribune, “The Base Ball Grounds,” May 9, 1884.[/fn]
The empty block was vacant in a couple of senses of the word. First, there was nothing built on it, and second, it was not subdivided. Most of the surrounding blocks had been subdivided in preparation for the construction of individual residences, but this block was visually, physically, and legally “open” space. The residents near this block, all of whom were relatively new to the neighborhood, were evidently accustomed to this open land and their views of it. They objected when it was leased for the baseball park, and they continued to protest as more than 40 trees were cleared to make room for the ballpark’s field and structures.[fn]C. M. Foote, Atlas of the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1892 and 1898, plate 15. The baseball association had a three-year lease costing $1,000 a year; one resident claimed that he would have contributed one hundred dollars to help lease the land to prevent its alteration. Saturday Evening Spectator, “Spectator About Town,” May 3, 1884.[/fn]
In objecting to the site preparations, the neighbors blamed the local agent who worked for the absentee landlords, inaccurately identified as New Yorkers who had inherited the property. In fact, a group from Massachusetts owned the land, including Roger Sherman Moore, a Springfield banker, lawyer, and real estate speculator who seems never to have lived in Minneapolis. Moore and his associates were originally from Southwick and other nearby communities in Hampden County, Massachusetts, and they owned land in this part of Minneapolis as well as at a number of sites in St. Paul. Heman Laflin, Joseph M. Forward, and Edward Bates Gillett—Hampden County people all—were in and out of Moore’s ownership group over the years. That their investment property produced some rental income was an advantage for these absentee landlords. Unlike the block’s neighbors, then, Moore and his co-owners would have been pleased with the work of their local agent.[fn]Minneapolis Tribune, Legal notice, August 15, 1874; Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University Deceased from June, 1890, to June, 1900 (New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1900), 209, accessed at http://books.google.com/books?id=QFgdAQAAIAAJ&pg on June 25, 2011; William Richard Cutter and William Frederick Adams, Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts, vol. 3, 1815, accessed at http://books.google.com/books?id=Bc8UAAAAYAAJ&dq on August 22, 2011; When the block was finally sub-divided, the addition was named Gillett, Forward and Smith’s addition.[/fn]
Having found a new location, the baseball association hired Minneapolis’s busiest architect, Leroy S. Buffington, to design the ballpark. Buffington (1847–1931) had been at work on many high-visibility projects, including the showplace Pillsbury A-Mill in Minneapolis (1881) and the second Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul (1883), as well as various commercial blocks and residences. His fashionable West Hotel (1884) in downtown Minneapolis was under construction when the baseball grounds were built. This may have been the first time that a prominent architect was hired for a ballpark job in the Twin Cities, though it was certainly not the last.[fn]In 1888, for example, the young Cass Gilbert and his partner, James Knox Taylor, were hired to design the Athletic Park in St. Paul. Within a decade, Gilbert’s portfolio would include the design for the third (and present) Minnesota State Capitol, built to replace the relatively new but deeply disliked Buffington building. Minneapolis Tribune, “A Successful Architect,” January 13, 1884; Minneapolis Journal, “Sporting,” April 15, 1884; Muriel B. Christison, “LeRoy S. Buffington and the Minneapolis Boom of the 1880’s,” Minnesota History 23:3 (September 1942), 219-232; St. Paul Daily Globe, “The Falling Capitol: Architect Buffington Trying to Hang It to Its Roof,” August 13, 1884; R. S. Fender vs. Minneapolis Base Ball Association, Hennepin County Lien Book F, 242–245.[/fn]
Preparation of the grounds began in late April and construction began in late May. Home plate and the surrounding grandstand sat at the southeast corner of the block, placing the fans in full sun during the afternoon games and necessitating a late modification of the architectural plans to include an awning. In fact, most ballpark elements emphasized fan comfort. The St. Paul Pioneer Press described such features as “dressing and retiring rooms for both gentlemen and ladies, and bath rooms for the players,” as well as “one hundred posts for horses.”[fn]R. S. Fender vs. Minneapolis Base Ball Association; Pioneer Press, “The New Minneapolis Base Ball Park,” May 19, 1884.[/fn]
While taking great care to create a park that would please the fans inside, relatively little was done to ease the concerns of the neighbors around the park. Just three weeks into the season, the neighbors filed for an injunction to stop play at the site, basing their complaints on property damage, disorderly behavior, appearances, and noise, among other things. Acknowledging that these elements were “the natural, probable, and necessary consequences” of baseball grounds, they did not seek to alter the operations. Instead, they wanted the facility closed and removed. This direct legal action is unusual in the history of local ballparks and reveals much about the varying perceptions of life in the growing city of Minneapolis.[fn]Charles S. Bardwell, et al., vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association, 18870, 4th Judicial District, Hennepin County (1884); St. Paul Daily Globe, “Minneapolis Globelets,” July 2, 1884; Minneapolis Journal, “The Courts,” July 7, 1884; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Enjoining Base Ballists,” July 8, 1884; Minneapolis Tribune, “They Don’t Like Base Ball, and, Therefore, Petition for an Injunction Restraining the Ball Club,” July 8, 1884.[/fn]
The neighborhood’s evolution explains much of the animosity. Both Park and Portland Avenues were emerging as important residential thoroughfares running out from the central business district. In keeping with the image they hoped to create, the residents exchanged the avenues’ assigned numbers—Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue—for the more elegant and evocative “Portland” and “Park” Avenues. Within six years, neighbors would organize the Park Avenue Improvement Association and mansions would fill the large lots facing these streets.[fn]See, for example, Larry Millett, Once There Were Castles: Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).[/fn]
The name of lumber company owner Charles S. Bardwell appeared at the top of every legal document and press report about neighborhood objections. Bardwell’s home, one of the largest in the area, was constructed in 1882 and cost $8,000 to build, making it far more expensive than the vast majority of Minneapolis residences built that year. The house sat at the southwest corner of Park Avenue and Eighteenth Street, and Bardwell could congratulate himself on both the beautiful house and its wonderful location, situated as it was on a large lot along this developing high-class residential boulevard. Its north side and many of its windows faced the empty lot that initially provided a park-like setting—but not a ballpark-like setting, which is what it became once the block was cleared, fenced, and required a ticket for admission.[fn]Minneapolis Tribune, “An Imposing Array of Buildings Erected in Minneapolis in 1882,” January 1, 1883; Minneapolis Tribune, “The Court Records,” July 8, 1884; Charles S. Bardwell, et al., vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
It should be noted that not all the neighbors disliked the ballpark. Some supported the baseball association, saying that they and their families enjoyed the games. What’s more, the team asserted that some of the complainants sold viewing space on their roofs and in their windows, thereby profiting from the baseball games they claimed to dislike.[fn]Affidavits from A. C. Lanphere and H. R. Porter, in Charles S. Bardwell, et al, vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
Bardwell and many of his neighbors launched a legal assault on the ballpark, weaving together several arguments about the importance of open space in an urbanizing environment, the need to segregate commerce and residence in the new industrial urban order, and the threat posed by the daily arrival of the wrong sort of people. In their complaint, they defined their neighborhood as quiet and residential, “suitable and agreeable for the purposes of the best class of family homes,” and argued that they had improved their property with trees, flowers, and shrubs. The baseball grounds were detrimental to the identity, character, and carefully tended visual surroundings they sought to create.[fn]Charles S. Bardwell, et al., vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
They complained about the noise: “a large and noisy crowd of several hundred men and boys has been attracted to and has collected in the streets” and then “during a great part of said times Bands of Brass instruments are playing loud and noisy tunes,” while crowds of fifteen hundred to three thousand people “continually shout, clap their hands, stamp with their feet and make loud and deafening noises and demonstrations.” The neighbors complained about the visual environment: in addition to the removal of the trees in May, they disliked the fences and stands being built on the block. They also claimed that the “defendant and other persons throw about, strew, and distribute large numbers of paper posters and advertisements of various descriptions in the streets and over plaintiffs [sic] premises.” The temporary stands and booths erected on the sidewalks for selling lemonade, cigars, pop, and peanuts were also offensive.[fn]Charles S. Bardwell, et al., vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
The traffic, both inside and outside of the grounds, was objectionable, including not only the vehicles parked on the field but also the “horses and wagons, carriages and buggies, which are not taken within the said enclosure but are hitched, tied or left standing” about the streets in front of the residences and blocking the streets for several hours—and “many of which are driven into the plaintiffs door yards and over and upon plaintiffs lawns and flowers, and are tied and fastened to plaintiffs trees, fences and posts.” Not only were the animals and vehicles a problem, so too were the “large noisy and promiscuous crowds” of men and boys who “swarm over the lawns and flowers, and climb onto porches, roofs, sheds, barns and residences” and into the trees to see the games. Property damage and danger were among the concerns, including a broken window in the Bardwell house, which stood closest to the grandstand. “Balls used in said games are very hard and dangerous instruments and are frequently batted or forced with great violence . . . endangering the lives and bodily safety of the plaintiffs families” and when the balls left the grounds, men and boys “rush upon the plaintiffs premises to recover said balls, trampling upon plaintiffs ornamental lawns, flower beds and shrubbery and brushing against, shaking and injuring the plaintiffs trees and otherwise injuring said premises.”[fn]Charles S. Bardwell, et al., vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
Any residential community might reasonably object to circumstances such as these. In the complaints, however, we can read of issues deeper than disliking big crowds and noisy brass bands. In general, the legal battle between neighborhood and ballpark revealed several community tensions. One dealt with understandings of open space. Minneapolis had just formed a park board in the previous year, something that had been a matter of significant public discussion. Talk of parks and their benefits was also an important part of recent national dialogue. Although not a public park, the ballpark’s block had functioned like one, creating “open, ample breathing space” for Minneapolitans, “essential to the health, as well as the happiness, of thickly settled communities.” Beauty and nature were commonly understood as an antidote to urban life, something increasingly essential as Minneapolis grew to face challenges already seen in the older and larger cities to the east, and the neighbors drew on the language of order, beauty, peace, and quiet in discussing the ball grounds’ problems. They described their neighborhood as “fitted up,” “improved,” “beautiful,” and “carefully kept,” making it “quiet” and “agreeable,” an exclusively residential area for a fine class of people. In contrast to the orderliness and beauty of their property, they emphasized the disorder, chaos, and damage created by the ballpark. They described the block’s baseball use as an “appropriation” of the open space, rather than characterizing it as the result of a legal and orderly real estate transaction, and they failed to acknowledge the “improvement” of the grounds by the baseball association. Seeing the ballpark and its use as an assault on nature, the neighbors regularly spoke of—or on behalf of—the landscape features great and small, from the trees to the grass.[fn]John Rea, letter to the editor, Minneapolis Tribune, May 23, 1880, quoted in Theodore Wirth, Retrospective Glimpses into the History of the Board of Park Commissioners of Minneapolis, Minnesota and the City’s Park, Parkway, and Playground System: Minneapolis Park System 1883–1944 (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society, 2006), 17–18; Charles S. Bardwell, et al, vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
A second area of tension arose from the proximity of residences and businesses. The area was described as being distant from the “crowded and noisy” portions of the city, which were associated with economic activity, not residential life. There were strong objections to the perceived intrusion of commercial activities into the neighborhood: ticket offices and gates for the collection of admittance fees, money-making “devices” like concession stands, and the extensive advertising, signs, and posters. Further, complaints about the appearance of the structures—with a “grand stand,” “raised seats” and “high board fences”— were frequently associated with height, itself a characteristic of the buildings found in the central business district.[fn]Charles S. Bardwell, et al., vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
In responding to this array of charges, the baseball association noted that it had made numerous concessions to the neighbors. For example, they had built lower fences than originally planned, and with higher quality lumber, in an attempt to make the facility less objectionable and more attractive. The purchase of surfaced lumber made the project more expensive, and an agreement not to post advertising on the fences cost the team expected income. Further, lower fences made it easier for people to see into the park without paying for tickets—another potential blow to the revenue. It was also noted that baseball would be played for only a few months out of the year, and then for only an hour or two a day. The brass bands played but for ten or fifteen minutes at the start of the game, and with an average attendance of only 800 respectable fans, the amount of disruption would be minimal. Streets would never be blocked and police would be present in the unlikely event that order needed to be restored. For most of the year and for most hours during the baseball season, the ballpark would be a quiet place fully compatible with its neighbors. The baseball association also deployed the discourse of nature as an antidote to urban and commercial disorder as they defended the ballpark. Most revealing was the association’s response to the claim that baseballs represented a danger. Rather than describing them as propelled by the swing of a bat, the defendants noted that the baseballs were the size of apples, and argued that they “fell” into the street, much like fruit falling from a tree. In this, of course, the baseball club was turning the language of nature back against its opponents.[fn]J. H. Murch and F. W. Partridge deposition, in Charles S. Bardwell, et al., vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
Their arguments made, the association and the neighbors then awaited the district court’s decision while the games continued. In the end, the residents around Park and Portland Avenues prevailed in their attempt to remove the baseball grounds from their neighborhood. In late August 1884, the court granted their request, and the baseball association was enjoined from playing at those grounds past October 15, 1884. They were also prohibited from scheduling additional events or games, and the structures on the property were to be removed within ten days of the October 15 deadline. These fall deadlines proved to be irrelevant, however, as the team folded in early September.[fn]Saturday Evening Spectator, “Spectator About Town,” July 26, 1884, and August 23, 1884; Minneapolis Journal, “Sporting: Base Ball,” August 21, 1884; Minneapolis Tribune, “The City,” August 21, 1884; Judgment Rule, Charles S. Bardwell, et al., vs. The Minneapolis Base Ball Association.[/fn]
The abrupt and early end to the Minneapolis season was not the end of the story, however, as problems with the 1884 ballpark’s construction shifted into the courts. The project’s contractor, Robert Fender, first put a lien on the property and later filed a lawsuit to receive full payment for his services. He had been paid about two-thirds of what was owed to him, probably in weekly wages to the construction workers, but had not received the remainder of his $600.63 payment within thirty days of the project’s completion. His complaint, like those of the neighbors, provides some insight into the details of the project and the facility. The itemized bill hints at some of the details of the structure, including the installation of a bathtub (a $6.00 item) and the digging and making of two privy vaults (at $1.50 each). We learn that the facility included twelve gates, secured with Yale locks, and was fitted out with 21 dozen coat hooks.[fn]R. S. Fender vs. Minneapolis Base Ball Association; St. Paul Daily Globe, “The Courts,” December 28, 1884.[/fn]
Even more extensive was the legal dispute with the lumber company, Farnham & Lovejoy. They had delivered approximately 107,000 board feet of lumber to the ball grounds in early June, running up a bill totaling $1,613.81. After unsuccessful attempts to collect payment, they followed the contractor’s lead and put a lien on the property in October, shortly before the scheduled demolition. Unable to collect from the association, Farnham & Lovejoy filed suit against one of the group’s directors, bartender Joseph H. Murch. Murch had been present when the lumber was ordered, and Farnham & Lovejoy claimed that he had agreed to be personally responsible for the billing. Murch denied this and refused to pay. The dispute resulted in two trials held in November and December 1885, more than a year after the facility was removed. In the first trial, the jury failed to agree, but in the December trial, the second jury decided against Murch. He asked for a new trial, but was rejected by the state Supreme Court in January 1887. Farnham & Lovejoy then sued for both the original claim and for interest and legal costs, but Murch prevailed in a January 1888 decision.[fn]Farnham & Lovejoy vs. Minneapolis Base Ball Association, Hennepin County Lien Book F, 204–207; St. Paul Daily Globe, “The Close of the Term,” November 26, 1885; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Left on Third Base,” December 24, 1885; Minneapolis Tribune, “Court Notes,” December 25, 1885; Farnham & Lovejoy v. Murch, 36 Minn. 328; 31 N. W. 453 (1887); St. Paul Daily Globe, “A Relic of Base Ball,” January 5, 1888; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Joe Wins It,” January 6, 1888.[/fn]
The sad story of this short-lived ballpark, replete with conflict and difficulty, might indicate that nothing but high-end homes would ever be welcome in the Park Avenue neighborhood. Remarkably, after the professional baseball team and its facilities were gone, the block continued to be used for sports—for lacrosse matches, University of Minnesota football games, tennis clubs, and the like—but without the structures, crowds, and commercialism associated with the 1884 league team. It was not until the turn of the twentieth century that any permanent structures were built there. By that time, professional baseball teams in Minneapolis had built (and twice rebuilt) three new ballparks in other parts of the city, and in the last of these, Nicollet Park, the team finally found a long-term home. The Park/Portland neighborhood would remain quiet and largely residential until the interstate highway bisected the community. Compared to a multi-lane concrete trench filled with traffic, the sights and sounds of a small baseball park might not seem so unpleasant.[fn]St. Paul Daily Globe, “Field Sports,” October 15, 1884; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Scraps of Sport,” May 30, 1885; St. Paul Daily Globe, “Division Drill,” June 30, 1885; “Football at Minnesota: The Story of Thirty Years’ Contests on the Gridiron,” The Minnesota Alumni Weekly 14/9 (1914), 12. Minneapolis Tribune, “A Season of Tennis,” May 7, 1894; Minneapolis Journal, “The Park Av. Tennis Courts,” June 6, 1896.[/fn]
CHRIS KIMBALL is the president of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California, where he is also a professor of history. Dr. Kimball and his co-author, Kristin Anderson, are writing a book on the ballparks of the Twin Cities. Although a long-term resident of Chicago, the Twin Cities, and now Los Angeles, he remains a steadfast Red Sox fan.
KRISTIN ANDERSON is a professor of art at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where she teaches courses in art history and architectural history. Together with co-author Chris Kimball, she is writing a book on the urban and architectural history of Twin Cities ballparks. In what passes for free time, Dr. Anderson leads tours at Target Field, including special focus tours on architecture, engineering, and sustainability.