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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nicollet Park
Nicollet plaque 080713 B&W.JPG
Full nameNicollet Ballpark
Former namesWright Field (1896)
LocationMinneapolis, Minnesota
Coordinates44°56′51″N 93°16′43″W / 44.94750°N 93.27861°W / 44.94750; -93.27861
OwnerMinneapolis Millers (1896–1955)
Capacity4,000
Field sizeLF 334; CF 435; RF 279
Construction
Broke ground1896
Built1896
Renovated1911
Expanded1937
Closed1955
Construction cost$4,000

Nicollet Park was a baseball ground located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. The ground was home to the minor league Minneapolis Millers of the Western League and later American Association from 1896 to 1955.

The ballpark opened on June 20, 1896, with a 13-6 win over Milwaukee. The new grounds were first known as Wright Field, named for one of baseball's founding fathers, Harry Wright. Area newspapers had held a contest and chose that name over "Nicollet Park" among others, awarding season tickets to the winning entrants.[Minneapolis Star-Tribune, June 17, 1896, p.5] The papers acknowledged the built-in pun on "right field", and added to it by describing one hit in the opener as a home run "knocked by the right-fielder, across right field, out of Wright Field."

The club owners were not enamored of the name, and it was soon renamed "Nicollet Park", the name "Nicollet" being ubiquitous in Minneapolis then and now.

The wooden ballpark was replaced by a steel and concrete structure in 1912. Lights were installed in 1937. The first night game was played on July 16, with the Millers hosting the arch-rival St. Paul Saints. The teams had also played the previous night, in Lexington Park's first night game.

The ballpark was on a small block bounded by Nicollet Avenue on the east, 31st Street on the south, Blaisdell Avenue on the west and Lake Street (or 30th Street) on the north in the present-day Lyndale neighborhood. Home plate was in the southwest corner. A small ticket office building with a Spanish-style roof stood outside the right field corner, at the Nicollet-31st intersection.

Joe Hauser hit 69 homers for the Millers in 1933. Ted Williams also made a bit of a splash here in 1938, on his way up to the major leagues, registering 43 round-trippers to lead the league. Willie Mays was enjoyed by the Minneapolis fans for only a month or so in 1951 before the parent club New York Giants brought the young ballplayer to the big leagues.

Nicollet Park, which had opened with a big win 60 years earlier, went out with a bang in September 28, 1955, as the Millers won the American Association championship tournament, and then went on to vie for the Junior World Series championship, facing the Rochester Red Wings of the International League. The series went the distance of 7 games, and the finale on September 28 was a close-fought win for the Millers in what was also the final game at Nicollet Park. In 1956 the Millers moved to Metropolitan Stadium in the suburb of Bloomington.

The park also held early National Football League games as the Minneapolis Marines and Minneapolis Red Jackets played home games there during the 1920s. In 1944 the Minneapolis Millerettes of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League called Nicollet Park home. Nicollet Park was also the place that the cereal Wheaties was first advertised. Augsburg University's football team played their home games at Nicollet from 1946 to 1950. The New York Giants and Green Bay Packers played a preseason game on August 29, 1948 at Nicollet Park.

The ballpark site's current occupants include a Wells Fargo Bank branch, built originally as a major branch for Norwest Bank. There is a plaque detailing the ballpark's history, near the drive-up window positioned near what was once the center field corner. A condominium building is on the north front of Lake Street with a Hennepin County Medical Center clinic.[1][2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Richfield a Classic Minnesota Postwar Suburb
  • Bruce Wiebe

Transcription

[ Male Narrator ] The city of Richfield located just south of Minneapolis proudly proclaims itself Minnesota's oldest suburb. Indeed the community got its start due to the area's proximity to Fort Snelling. But it was Richfield's extraordinary growth after World War II that made it the State's preeminent suburban city. Fort Snelling drew the first settlers to what would become Richfield in the 1820's. Fertile farm land which also gave the community its name brought more residents in the 1850's. The village thrived as an agricultural center supplying produce to nearby Minneapolis and other cities farther away. Richfield incorporated itself in 1908. Suburban development in Richfield began in the late 19th century but the first housing developments were sparse and isolated. This began to change in the 1910's when Minneapolis street cars reached the village limits and when automobiles and roads both became more reliable. In 1924 the opening of the St. Paul Ford Motor Company Plant just across the Mississippi River ignited Richfield's first real suburban house building boom. But the Great Depression and World War II quickly cooled it. After the war, returning American GI's created an unprecedented demand for housing. Richfield with its open farm fields and closeness to Minneapolis became a perfect target for housing developers. By 1947 some one hundred houses were going up in Richfield each month. Long time Richfield resident Gertrude Ulrich remembers the boom: [ Gertrude Ulrich ] When we moved here there were only 17,000 people and at the peak of the population reached almost 50,000. So you can see there was a huge, a huge amount of building. [ Narrator ] Among other benefits, the GI Bill of Rights gave returning veterans access to low interest mortgages allowing them to buy houses ranging from 8,000 dollars for an 816 square foot model to 10,500 dollars for one with an attached garage. Richfield resident named Sherman Booen paid 9,300 dollars for his house. [ Sherman Booen ] Well we thought it was a lot. We ah, we ah We talked about it, talked with my dad about it. And of course I had never bought a house before. And coming out of the Service I didn't have a lot of money. And ah So there were cheaper houses available but they were ah They were not like mine. [ Narrator ] Because builders and buyers both wanted to save money wherever they could, many of these new suburban homes were simple in style and appointment. Carpeting and landscaping were luxuries to be added later and many houses were built to identical plans. But the houses were impressive enough to first time buyers like Ulrich: [ Gertrude Ulrich ] See one of the things that I liked best about that house as you looked at it from the outside; it had a very dignified appearance. It had a very dignified entrance. You walked up. You didn't have to search around to find the front door. It was obvious where the front door was. [ Narrator ] Booen recalled that these basic houses were perfect for those just starting out. [ Sherman Booen ] Now that's a starting place. Richfield is a starting place for homes, for living. You buy like we did. We bought a reasonably priced home and it's still that way. It's a starter. It's a starter home and Richfield happened to have a lot of them. [ Narrator ] The surge of new houses and new families was not without problems. The sudden growth taxed Richfield's infrastructure. Storm sewers, gas lines and other utilities required expansion. New schools and civic buildings had to be built. Police and fire crews needed new recruits. Richfield's population of 4,000 people in 1940 swelled to 42,000 by 1960. It took more than houses, schools and utilities to make a suburb. Like people, stores were moving away from the cities and out into the suburbs. Richfield saw its share of new shopping centers opening in the years after World War II. The community's Hub shopping complex opened in 1954. The Hub offered a Department Store, a Grocery Store, a Pharmacy and unlike downtown Minneapolis stores free parking. Southdale Mall which opened later that year in neighboring Edina took the Hub concept a step further by enclosing its stores under a single roof in the Country's first indoor shopping mall. Booen remembered the Hub in its early days: [ Sherman Booen ] The Hub was built before Southdale. So at that time it was quite ah They had a lot of big shops, good shops. Because Southdale hadn't been built why this was a pretty big shopping center. [ Narrator ] Suburban growth continued to reshape Richfield over the years. Today the city's population stands at 35,000 people. Young families live next door to retirees who've been in the same houses for half a century. Despite the growth, Richfield retains the small town feel with easy big city access that has drawn people to it for more than sixty years.

References

Additional sources

  • Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2006, by Stew Thornley.
  • Before the Dome, Nodin Press, 1993, edited by David Anderson.
  • On to Nicollet: The Glory and Fame of the Minneapolis Millers, Nodin Press, 1988, by Stew Thornley.
  • Ballparks of North America, McFarland & Company, 1989, by Michael Benson.
  • Green Cathedrals, SABR, 1986, and Addison-Wesley, 1992, by Phil Lowry.
This page was last edited on 20 November 2020, at 04:43
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