As the sun set to end another beautiful summer day in Minnesota on Father's Day last Sunday, I did the math and calculated that it has been 58 years since I last celebrated Father's Day with my father, the first two of those 58 coming when I was in the Army at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., and then at Fort Riley, Kans.
And the memories flooded back, with some recurring thoughts of being cheated because he died at a young age in 1963 while I was in he Army.
He was a Lutheran minister, his father — an Iowa farmer — having decreed that the first-born son would be a minister. As the oldest of seven kids, he was sent off to a Lutheran high school in St. Paul, then to a Lutheran college there, and then to the seminary in St. Louis. That was 11 years of his life where he was a farm boy for three months in the summer but a serious scholar for the other nine months. That education, that schooling, shaped his life, short though it was.
He wasn't your typical minister, however, as you will find out if you continue reading. His first parish was in Iowa, his next was in Tracy, Minn., where six of his seven children were born, and then in 1953, lured by the fact that Our Savior's Church in rural Princeton had a Christian Day School, he accepted a call to that church and the mission congregation of Bethany Lutheran Church in Princeton. (His only son, your writer, didn't want to leave his friends in Tracy and ran away from home on the day of the move to rural Princeton. My father and the rest of the family drove around town for while and finally found that wayward son, of all things, at the baseball field.)
The move to a country parsonage, after life in town was all our family had known, was right up his alley. He was an Iowa country boy at heart. And it showed.
We soon had chickens that provided eggs and meat. We also had beef cows. And we raised crops, usually hay for the cows, in the few acres that abutted the church, the parsonage and the cemetery where he lies today. I got my first taste of baling hay in the hot sun, then putting it up the hayloft in our small barn, and then feeding that hay to the beef cows that provided meat for a family of nine, a family that was poor by any standards. He was a disciplinarian and we didn't always see eye to eye about those few chores, including working in a huge garden that provided year-around vegetables for the family. He rented some land by the St. Francis River and we raised corn to sell. And he posted a sign at the bank in the little town of Santiago that said I would do farm work - but forgot to tell me.
However, he was much more than someone to mete out discipline. He was a substitute bus driver for the Princeton school district - it brought in a little money. He somehow found time to take a course at St. Cloud State about Geoffrey Chaucer, a renowned English poet and author from the 14th century. In his 30s he was on the board of regents of a small Lutheran college in Mankato. He could play the organ and the piano. When we lived in Tracy he led the charge to get a pipe organ in our church. He would hurry home after church on Sunday to listen on the radio to a famed organist from Salt Lake City. The summer before we moved to Princeton I biked by our church at night and heard that new organ being played by my father. a few days before we left for Sherburne County.
He was a talented writer and a talented speaker, chided by fellow pastors because his sermons often included examples from the Civil War, a subject he found fascinating, something he passed on to me as I read books by Bruce Catton about the Civil War. My father made sure we got to the library in St. Cloud to get exposed to books. He had a wonderful singing voice, a voice you could sometimes hear — without amplification — rising above the congregation during the service. When he wanted to use a hymn the congregation hadn't sung before, he would have members stay after church and practice that hymn.
More proof that he wasn't an ordinary pastor: He knew everything about cars and their engines. He knew the wheelbase of a new car when it came out in the fall at a nearby dealership, and he spent many hours at a "garage" in Santiago helping out the mechanic who ran that garage. He was a whiz with tractors. And he could run a team of horses as well as the next guy, going down the road to borrow a parishioner's team to cut the hay on our small acreage. One year when we raised oats he was a bit put out because I couldn't shock those bundles of oats as fast as he could
He got along well with kids, something not always the case with pastors. He ran summer camps for our synod, both at Tracy on the shores of Lake Shetek and while at Princeton at a lake near Hillman. I remember him — not much of an athlete, although he would drive 120 miles to Mankato with the family to watch me play basketball — having a running race with kids. He drove the tractor for hayrides with the YPS (Young People's Society) and promoted sleigh rides, after which he would serve chili he had made for the occasion, his recipe in the church cookbook noting that hot cocoa was a must to go with the chili.
He didn't give up easily. While at college in St. Paul he made a bet on Iowa in the Iowa-Minnesota football game when the Gophers were a national power in the 1930s. He lost the bet and had to push a peanut with his nose up a sidewalk on a hill, with his Minnesota friends hooting and hollering. He taped his nose but forgot about his knees, he told me, and they were raw when he got done. But he got it done. He was tough-minded. He smoked in college, like many others back then, and continued after he got married and started having kids. Then one day he decided that was a bad thing and he quit cold turkey, never touching one again. Pastor or not, he'd have a couple beers, getting a parishioner to make the purchase for him so the tongues wouldn't wag so much.
For a couple of our years in the Princeton area he had three services on Sunday - one at Bethany in Princeton, back to Our Savior's in the country, and then back to Bethany. I would ride along to Princeton on occasion, thinking that would take care of my church attendance that Sunday, only to find out I was also required to attend in the country. Unlike the fate of some friends who were pastor's kids, some of whom were almost forced into the ministry, he asked only a couple times if I was interested. I said I wasn't and that was that.
He wasn't perfect and I certainly wasn't. We had our differences, as fathers and sons do. But as I got older I began to realize what a talented, diverse man he was. And there we were in July of 1963, me boarding a plane at Wold-Chamberlain Field (the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport today) to fly back to my duties at Fort Riley. He waved when I looked out the window as we began taxiing to the runway.
Two months later he was dead at 48 of a massive heart attack as he helped a neighbor farmer chase down some cows who had gotten out of their pasture. It was a huge surprise since he was provided a clean bill of health earlier that year at Mayo before heading to China to check out the possibility of starting a mission there. It took me years and years to get over it, and to try understand it. Maybe I never have.
Those were some of the memories of my father last Sunday night as another Father's Day came to a close.
Daily diary for the 2019 Twins
Saturday, June 15 —What a performance by Kyle Gibson in the Twins' 2-0 win over Kansas City last night! The Kansas City starter totally shut down the potent Minnesota offense but when a reliever came into the game, Mitch Garver hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and Taylor Rogers, out for nine days with a back problem, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and the Twins had another win. Gibson gave up only two hits and the Twins homered for the12th game in a row.
Sunday, June 16 — It must be frustrating for the Cleveland Indians who, despite missing three top pitchers, have won 7 of their last 10 games. But they haven't gained on the Twins at all as Minnesota is 7-3 over the same period, with another week of the season gone by. The 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Royals Saturday night almost took a back seat on Joe Mauer Night as his number was retired. Joe surely is one of the most humble and likable stars that baseball has ever seen - that was very evident. Two more homers for the Twins, Jake Odorizzi got his 10th win, and a sellout crowd - it was a good night for Mauer, and for the Twins.
Monday, June 17 — Two errors by the Twins (10 in the last five games) gave Kansas City four unearned runs and the Royals came away with an 8-6 win on Sunday before a third straight sellout crowd. the first time that has happened since 2011. The Twins left the bases loaded three times in the first seven innings and ranked 13th (only two teams worse) in the American League in scoring with three runners on base. Minnesota left 15 runners on base, 10 of them in scoring position, and the Ttwins were 4 for 18 with runners in scoring position. Homers by Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz made it 20 straight games at Target Field with a homer, better than the 18 straight at the Metrodome and 12 in a row at Met Stadium.
Tuesday, June 18 — It was a shame to see the team waste the great performance by Jose Berrios against a very hot, very potent Red Sox lineup. Boston pitcher Porcello has really struggled this season but the Twins couldn't' do anything against him. I was disappointed with Jorge Polanco in the eighth inning when he came up with no outs and two runners on. He decided on his own to bunt and did move the runners up. But I would much rather have had him, leading the league in hitting, try to get a hit. He's hard to double up and I thought the bunt was a bad idea. The Twins left 7 runners on base, after 15 the day before, and maybe a slump is bound to happen. Eddie Rosario has driven in only three runs the first 17 days of the month and two of those came in a 12-2 blowout over Detroit. on June 9. He hasn't driven in a run since. They need more than that from him. Minnesota is still the only team in the majors not to have had a three-game losing streak. I've never been a fan of the contact play (runner on third goes home no matter where the ball is hit) and that play messed up a potentially good inning.
Wednesday, June 19 — It was Max Kepler Night at Target Field on Tuesday (and Wednesday) as the Twins beat the Red Sox 4-3 in 17 innings, the game ending at 12:55. He didn't start the game but tied it in the 8th with an RBI single, tied it in the 13th with a homer after the Red Sox had gone ahead, and won it in the 17th with an RBI single. That game-winning hit came after the Red Sox had a runner on third with no outs in the 17th and minor league call-up Zack Littell stranded that runner and got his first MLB win. The Red Sox were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position, while the Twins wee 4 for 8. The win obscured two major baserunning mistakes, as well as two Twins outfielders bumping into one another in extra innings and allowing a ball to drop for a double. And I'd have liked to see Michael Pineda stay in the game after pitching six good innings and throwing only 80 pitches. But there are always a bunch of ifs and buts in a game like that and the main thing is that the Twins won, thus keeping their string alive of not losing three in a row. The Twins struck out too much (Miguel Sano did it 5 times) but then J.D. Martinez, the Boston DH who is a dominant player, was 0 for 8 and also struck out 5 times. Who would have thought the potent Minnesota and Boston offenses would combine for 9 runs ion 26 innings of the first two games of the series? It would be nice to win the series tonight.
Thursday, June 20 —The series win didn't happen, the Red Sox winning 9-4 after Minnesota held a 4-3 lead for a few minutes. The Twins led 1-0 after the first inning but lost a run when the third base coach sent a runner home with one out and cleanup hitter Eddie Rosario up next. Rosario did drive in a run, his first in 10 days, for a 1-0 lead. The Twins were without Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez, both now on the injured list, and manager Rocco Baldelli chose to keep Jonathon Schoop and league-leading hitter Jorge Polanco (on base in 32 consecutive games) out of the lineup. I'd have benched Miguel Sano (14 strikeouts in 27 at-bats during the home stand) and kept Polanco in the lineup, moved Willians Astudillo to third and kept Schoop at second. Players are getting rested too much, to my way of thinking. The Twins still have a 9-game lead over Cleveland but Minnesota is 8-7 in its last 15 games, while Cleveland, supposedly out of it, is 10-4 in its last 14. It would be nice if the Twins (48-25) can win three out of four in Kansas City (25-49) to right the ship a little.
Friday, June 21 — About 12 days ago when the Twins had an 11-game lead I was just about ready to fall in line with many others who were predicting the Twins were going to coast to a division title. But I held off for a little more proof. They may still do that but after last night's listless 4-1 loss to Kansas City, a very bad team, I'm on hold. That's two losses in a row to the Royals and the team is 1-4 in the last five, averaging only 3 runs a game. And Jake Odorizzi has given up 4 runs to Kansas City in each of his last two starts. It's one thing to lose but another thing to look bad doing it. The big hitters are failing with guys on base (Rosario, for example, has driven in only 4 runs the last 17 games), they're making all kinds of errors (3 Thursday night), the base running has been suspect, and the pitching has slipped. The team is 8-8 in its last 16 games and after going 3-1 against a very good Tampa Bay team to begin June, the team has been average, at best. It's far from time to panic — every team has good and bad streaks — but it's important now to dominate Kansas City this weekend.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
June 26, 1959 - Delano Peterson was the winning pitcher for the Princeton midget baseball team in a 15-1 win over Sauk Rapids, and then was the tough-luck loser for the Legion team in a 2-1 loss to Cambridge.
June 25, 1964 - Winning pitcher Gordy Meyer and Steve Lindell homered as the Legion baseball team beat Milaca, 6-5 . . . Home on leave from the Army, Luther Dorr struck out 18 in a 15-0 win win over Zimmerman for Santiago in town team baseball. .
June 25, 1969 - Bob Soule beat the Cambridge Legion team, 3-2, and Tom Meyer pitched a 1-hitter and struck out 12 in six innings in a 13-1 win over Foley. Then Ron Deglmann pitched a no-hitter and struck out 16 in an 8-0 win over Mora.
June 26, 1974 - The Legion baseball team won its invitational tournament for the second straight year. Pete Steinhagen beat White Bear Lake, Brad Blankholm beat Anoka and reliever Dave Mingo pitched eight shutout innings in a 10-inning 3-2 win over St. Cloud in the title game, Mark Enger knocking in the winning run.
June 28, 1979 - Les Nelson, a junior-to-be , shut out Grand Rapids and hit a 2-run homer at the Grand Rapids Legion tournament. Steve Kapsner also homered in Princeton's only win at the tournament . . . Don Perbix and Kurt Katterheinrich won the President's Tournament at the Rum River Golf Club . . . Dave Mingo struck out 15 in a 3-2 town team win over Cambridge and Luther Dorr drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
June 28, 1984 - Tom Wolcyn pitched a 3-hitter and struck out nine for the town team in a 7-0 win for the town team over O'Hara's of St Cloud . . . Tim Vagle pitched a 5-0 shutout for the Legion team over North Branch and its ace Tim Carr . . . Brian Dorr hit a home run at the high school all-star baseball series at Midway Stadium in St. Paul.
June 22 1989 - All-conference in softball were Erin Buie, Marnie DeWall, Maria Reese, Joleen Schirra and Nicole Schirra . . . Jeremy Miller was the winning pitcher twice for the Legion team as it posted a 2-4 record in the St. Cloud tournament . .. Troy Kinney went the distance for the Princeton Panthers as they won, and then Jason Miller and Troy Scheffel picked up wins.
June 30, 1994 - All-conference in softball were Jodi Gerth, Erin Gunderson, Megan DeWall, Amanda Zereoth and Mary Skarohlid . . . Chad Campbell (3-run homer) and Brian Dorr (grand slam) led a Princeton Panther 14-4 win over Long Prairie. Winning pitcher Jason Miller (12 strikeouts) homered and so did Tony Stay in a 16-5 win over Isanti.
June 24, 1999 - Home runs were important for the Princeton Panthers in a 12-5 win over Mora and an 8-6 win over Chisago Lakes. It was 5-5 in the fifth inning of the Mora game when Tom Kluk hit a 2-run homer and Brian Dorr (4 RBIs) hit a 2-run homer, his third straight game with a homer. It was 6-6 in the Chisago Lakes game when Kluk hit a 2-run homer again. Panther veterans Jason Miller and Dorr had good streaks going. Miller, off to a 4-0 start with a 1.90 ERA, was 22-2 since the 1997 season began and opponents were hitting .215 against him. Dorr was hitting .507 in his last 150 at-bats, dating back to the start of the previous season, with 15 homers and 70 RBIs in that span. He had 7 homers in 32 at-bats until being stopped by Chisago Lakes.
July 1, 2004 - The Princeton Panthers had their eight-game winning streak snapped but then went on the road for an 8-6 win over Hampton, a state tourney team the year before, as were the Panthers. Hampton led 6-4 in the ninth inning and the Panthers had two outs and no one on base. But five straight hits produced four runs and a victory, winning pitcher Jesse Zimmer driving in three runs. . . The Legion team, off to a 1-5 start, the only win coming in a 10-1 game with North Branch as Brandon Knoll struck out 13 in the win.
July 2, 2009 - The Legion baseball team beat Milaca 4-3 as Brent Miodus went the distance for the win after trailing 3-1 in the sixth. Miodus also homered, had two hits and scored two runs . . . The Princeton Panthers were 1-2 in a weekend tournament at Cambridge, beating the host Rum River Bandits 18-6 as Jordan Neubauer got the win in relief. Tony Stay hit a 2-run homer and Brian Dorr had a grand slam, his seventh as a Panther. Jesse Zimmer, Tyler Roehl and Jake Maros also homered in the tournament.
June 26, 2014 - Luke Hallbeck pitched a no-hitter in a 2-0 win over Milaca to open the Legion baseball season and Sam Archer drove in six runs in a 16-7 win over North Branch. Hallbeck struck out 11 in the no-hit game.
Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the Princeton area for 52 years.