This is the final reminder that two weeks from today on Friday, July 19,  there is a gathering planned at Solheim Veterans Field to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that wonderful field, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Princeton Legion Baseball Tournament, the longest-running Legion invitational tournament in Minnesota, and likely one of the longest in the nation, or perhaps even the longest.

The idea is to have as many former Legion players as possible at the field that night, where they will be introduced between the 5:30 game and the Princeton game scheduled for 8 p.m. The call went out in this space back in April, and again in May, for former players to plan to be on hand. The response has been good, among different age groups, with the hope that those who knew about it would pass it on to former teammates.

That has happened through the magic of social media and there's hope that some will see this reminder that don't yet know about the event. Anyone who played Legion baseball in Princeton is invited to attend, not just those who played at the field from 1970 to the present.

There will be an area in the ballpark that night for former players to check in as they arrive so that a list can be made. Introductions will be made by decades, beginning with the most recent one (2010-2018) and going back to the '70s, and hopefully the '60s. We'll make the younger players stand out on the field the longest, with the older ones asked to be there for the shortest time.

Although it would be fun, we won't have time to give a rundown of each player. We'd be there until midnight. But we do want to report the names and the year last played. And there will be a few words about the man who made it all possible, Howard Solheim. It was his dream to get a good field in Princeton, for a good program, and he was the driving force for that happening. Thirty years ago this month the field was renamed Solheim Veterans Field, replacing the name Veterans Field that  had been chosen because of the huge financial support from the local American Legion post.

Swede, as he was called by most, also started the first tournament in 1970 and lined up good teams from all over the state, and later from out of state. He was way ahead of his time in running a quality tournament like that. In fact, a few years ago seven of the eight teams in the tournament were ranked in the top 15 in the state. Teams have enjoyed coming here and know they will be playing at a wonderful field in a classy tournament. 

Swede also set the bar high for Princeton teams that twice ran off consecutive win streaks of more than 40 games in the North End League in which they played. He coached for about 25 years and was followed by John Gloege for 19 years and then former Legion player Troy Kinney for 19 years. Not many Legion programs around the state can say they have had only three coaches for a period of more than 60 years. Both Gloege and Kinney plan to be there and will be joined, of course, by present co-coaches Jesse Zimmer and Jordan Neubauer, both of whom are former players.

It promises to be a fun, informal night to get together and perhaps expand on those stories from everyone's playing days. There's talk of gathering afterwards at the Pizza Pub, a year-old bar/restaurant that is situated in the old American Legion building.

If you already know about the event, pass the word on to anyone you think might be interested. Contact Luther Dorr at luther.dorr@ecm-inc.com, or at 763-202-5718, for additional information.

See you there!


Daily diary for the 2019 Twins

Saturday, June 29 — If you had told fans of the Minnesota Twins back in March that their team would reach the halfway point in the season (81 games) with a 52-29 record, a 26-14 record on the road, and an 8-game lead in the division standings, you might have been laughed out of the room. But that's where they stand this morning after a 6-4 loss to the White Sox yesterday. Obscured by those facts is that the team is 5-7 in is last 12 games, including a 2-3 record against Kansas City (28-54). The bats have slowed down and so has the pitching, Michael Pineda (today's starter) not having won a game for 39 days. As more proof of the slowdown I offer the fact that ace Jose Berrios (8-4) had five starts in June, pitched 35 innings (average of 7 a game), had a 2.06 ERA but only a 1-2 record. Included in those starts was an 8-inning game against the formidable Red Sox lineup in which he gave up only one run. He hasn't won since June 6. One other thought today as the Twins hope to regroup against the White Sox: Manager Rocco Baldelli has rested players all year, even keeping a player (Max Kepler) out the lineup who had hit three homers the game before. Despite all the rest, the team played this week with Eddie Rosario, Marwin Gonzalez, Byron Buxton, Willians Astudillo and Ehire Adrianza all out and on the injured list. Figure that out.

 

Sunday, June 30 — The Twins' 10-3 win in Chicago yesterday took us back, at least for a day, to the month of May when the Twins were getting quality pitching from their starters and the bats were booming. Pineda got his first win in more than six weeks, pitching six quality innings, and there were five homers, something we haven't seen for awhile.   

Monday, July 1 — Rocco Baldelli is the manager and I'm just a longtime fan. Still, I can't understand yesterday's lineup in the 4-3 loss to Chicago. Miguel Sano, struggling mightily, hit two homers Friday and one Saturday. And he wasn't in Sunday's lineup. Yes, the White Sox had a good righty going but Sano had just hit three homers in two games. And Max Kepler, a left-handed hitter who hit two homers the day before, was held out against the right-hander. Yes, he tweaked his leg on Saturday but the manager said he could have played Sunday. They were both held out because of a preplanned lineup that was set a few days before. That's ridiculous. The boys could have rested today (Monday) and had more than 50 hours off before playing tomorrow in Oakland. They're both in their 20s — I think they could take playing on Sunday, don't you? Sano did drive in a run as a pinch-hitter but he should have been in the lineup for the whole game. The loss gives the Twins a 6-8 record in their last 14 games. My, how the game has changed. When rookie Lewis Thorpe pitched Sunday he was the team's 24th pitcher to see action this year, and the eighth starter. FACT: C.J. Kron and Mitch Garver were huge parts of the team's offense much of the year. In his last 8 games Cron is hitting .143 and has driven in 2 runs, while Garver is hitting .161 in his last eight but has played in only 8 of the last 16 games.

Tuesday, July 2 —  With a day off yesterday, I took a look at the stats after last Friday's game, which was exactly at the halfway point of the season.. A third of the way (54 games) the Twins had the best record in baseball at 37-17 and that would translate to 111 wins at that pace. That pace had dropped back to 104 (52-29) by last Friday, still a good one. Some of the individuals have slowed down also.  (The new figures will be in bold.) At that 54-game mark Jake Odorizzi, Martin Perez and Jose Berrios were all headed for 21-win seasons, Kyle Gibson for 15. After last Friday the pace had slowed a bit with Odorizzi at 20, Perez at 14, Berrios at 16 and Gibson, at 16, the only one who had improved. At the 54-game mark Rosario was headed for 51 homers and 141 RBIs — last Friday it had gone to 40 homers and 120 RBIs and now he's on the injured list. Max Kepler was at 36 homers and 105 RBIs, on Friday it was 38 homers and 102 RBIs. Jorge Polanco  was at 27 homers and 78 RBIs, now it is 22 homers and 78 RBIs. Mitch Garver was at 27 homers and 57 RBIs with a homer every 9 at-bats, now it's 24 homers and 64 RBIs with a homer every 11.4 at-bats. Jonathon Schoop was at 30 homers and 87 RBIs, now he's at 28 homers and 68 RBIs. Nelson Cruz, who had missed 16 games for various reasons, was at 21 homers and 66 RBIs, but has gone up to 28 homers and 78 RBIs. C. J.Cron was at 39 homers and 105 RBIs and is at 34 homers and 104 RBIs now. Buxton was at 5 homers and 24 RBIs, and has gone up to 18 homers and 76 RBIs, although he's also missed a bunch of games recently. Even though many have fallen back, most of those totals would still be good ones. Injuries, however have already changed things.

Wednesday, July 3 — I have one opinion and a bunch of facts (you can decide your own take on them) after the 8-6 loss in Oakland last night. OPINION: It's even more clear now that Sano should have been in the lineup in Sunday's loss to Chicago. He hit two homers Friday and one on Saturday, then had a pinch-hit RBI single Sunday. Then he homered in his first at-bat last night and singled later. Why wasn't he in the lineup Sunday? He might have made the difference in a one-run loss. FACT: The Twin are 6-9 in their last 15 games, 1-4 in the last 5. FACT: Three Twins castoffs were important in the Oakland win. Chris Herrmann hit a grand-slam homer that drove Odorizzi from the game, Robbie Grossman had two hits, scored a run, drove in a run and walked twice, and Liam Hendriks got the save with two strikeouts, throwing a fastball near 100 mph. FACT: Odorizzi, 10-2 with an ERA of 2.24 until his last four starts, is 0-2 in those four games with an ERA of 7.86 and is now on the injured list. FACT. Adalberto Mejia, coming off the injured list and pitching well in relief, was the team's 25th pitcher to see action this season. FACT: After last Saturday's 10-3 five-homer blowout of the White Sox, the Twins were 53-29 with a 9-game lead. IF the Twins were to go 40-40 the rest of the way, Cleveland — 9 games back then — would have to go 49-31 (.613) to tie for the division lead. Now it's a 7-game lead today with 78 games remaining.

Thursday, July 4  — Another great performance by Twins' relievers (six shutout innings) led to a 4-3 win In Oakland last night, this one in 12 innings. That performance by the relief corps came on the heels of 1 run in the last 10 innings of the 17-inning win over the Red Sox, and 0 runs for 10 innings in the 18-inning 5-2 loss to the Rays last week. For much of the game on Wednesday the team looked suspiciously like the 2018 Twins:  Buxton missing the ball on a squeeze bunt attempt, stabbing at the ball like an inexperienced bunter; Kepler failing to tag at third on a  liner to the outfield; Polanco failing to get a runner home from third with one out; and many strikeouts by the Twins on pitches well out of the strike zone. But, all's well that ends well. Garver drove in the winning run and also had an RBI single earlier as the Twins rallied from a 3-0 deficit. It was a nice win that kept Minnesota with bragging rights for being the only MLB team without a three-game losing streak this season.

  

Friday, July 5 — Manager Baldelli and the players are saying all the right things during the team's recent slump (7-10 in the last 17 games after a 7-2 loss in Oakland yesterday), telling us that one bad inning, one bad game or a bad stretch (second half of June) won't keep the team from approaching the next game with a positive outlook. One wonders if it's that easy. On June 15 the record was 47-22 and the Twins led Cleveland by 11 games. That lead is down to 6 and there are still 76 games remaining. Cleveland is 14-5 in its last 19 games. Ace pitcher Berios got the loss yesterday and has still won only one game since June 6, and the team had its first losing road trip of the season. It seems in Berrios' last few starts that he gets ahead of hitters but can't put them away. He's had only 8 strikeouts in his last 19 innings after averaging a strikeout an inning in the previous 98 innings. Then again, baseball is an up and down game, both for the best teams and the best players. The Twins hit only .160 in the Oakland series with runners in scoring position, while ex-Twins Grossman (7 for 10, 3 walks) and Herrmann, with a lifetime batting average of .205 (a career best 4-hit game Sunday and a grand slam Friday) killed the Twins. That's part of the up and down that is baseball. The Twins have a tough July schedule, beginning next Friday at Cleveland for three games and including the Yankees later on. They need to right the ship and a good start would be taking three from Texas this weekend before the All-Star break.



PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES

July 9, 1959 - There were 700 fans on hand for the July 4 racing card at Princeton Speedway as Kenny Englund (Class B) and Jerry Bockoven (Class A) had the fastest time trials . . . Work was progressing on the barn near the golf course that was to become the clubhouse that August. (That's today's clubhouse. 

July 9, 1964 - Dale Thiel had four hits and scored five runs as the Legion team beat Braham 19-3 behind pitcher Mike Rajala . . . The town team beat Foley 5-2 behind Rollie Benson and then beat Clearwater 15-7 behind Steve Lindell. Lindell had three hits in each game and Bob Nienaber had three against Clearwater. 

 

July 9, 1969 - Ron Deglmann pitched an 11-inning 1-hitter and beat Morris 3-1 in the Alexandria Legion tournament. He lost the no-hitter in the 11th inning on a ball off an outfielder's glove . . . A scratch single on a 0-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth inning cost Luther Dorr a no-hitter for the town team in a 2-1 win over Monticello at Princeton. He struck out 12.

 

July 10, 1974 - Dan Kne struck out 17 as the town team beat Soderville 6-4. Jerry Bergeron hit a two-run homer . . . Frank Kosloski of Princeton placed third in the handicap division of the Minnesota State Trapshooting Tournament in St. Cloud. He tied for first (96 of 100 birds) but was third in the shootoff.

July 12, 1979 - The Legion baseball team went 1-2 in the annual Princeton tournament, beating Coon Rapids 5-4 behind Scott Knoll. The team then beat Cambridge 5-0 in league play, Mark Tadych pitching a five-hit shutout . . . Dave Mingo was the winning pitcher in a 3-1 win over Cambridge in town team baseball as Mingo, Buzz Johnson, Craig Remus and Luther Dorr each had two hits. 

July 12, 1984 -  Princeton beat Alexandria 11-0 in the Princeton Legion baseball tournament as Tim Vagle pitched the shutout and Steve Holbrook hit a three-run homer. Princeton then lost 7-5 to eventual champion Coon Rapids as Brian Dorr got three hits and drove in three runs.

July 13, 1989 - Princeton lost to Alexandria and Superior (Wis.) in the Princeton Legion baseball tournament . . . Twenty years after it was built, the baseball field at Mark Park was renamed Solheim Veterans Field in honor of longtime high school and Legion baseball coach Howard Solheim.

July 14, 1994 - Tri-City Red was the first repeat champion since 1979 in the 25th annual Princeton Legion Tournament. Princeton lost to Bemidji and Anoka, the Anoka pitcher throwing a no-hitter . . . Jason Miller drove in three runs and Chad Campbell two in a 5-1 win for the Princeton Panthers over the Forest Lake Lakers. Jamie Cox got the complete-game victory.

July 8, 1999 - The Legion baseball team placed third at the Alexandria tournament, beating Red Wing 8-6, losing 12-7 to Alexandria and beating Litchfield 13-5, Eric Deglman and Ian McVey getting the wins. Josh Burdick had six hits in the three games and Jesse Donner and Darrick Weissenfluh five each . . . The Panthers beat Nowthen 14-4 to take the division lead as Mike VanDeRiet got the win and Curt Wilson homered twice. The Panthers then beat Sauk Rapids 9-8 as Brian Dorr hit a three-run homer and beat Clear Lake 12-11 as Jason Miller (No. 4) and Dorr (No. 9) homered, and winning pitcher Tony Stay homered (No. 5) in the bottom of the ninth with two outs for the win. Those homers gave the team 37 for the season and it was the 16th straight game with at least one homer for the team. 

July 15, 2004 - Ryan Kotnik homered three times - thought to be a Legion first - in a 13-5 Legion baseball loss to Cambridge. The team beat Pine City as Aaron Julson got the win in relief and beat Milaca 9-1 behind Josh Ludwig . . .  The Princeton Panthers beat St. Francis 3-2 behind pitcher Jesse Zimmer and beat Nowthen 8-1 behind Jason Miller (4-2, 0.82) as Dane Larsen and Chad Campbell each drove in two runs, giving the team 14 wins in its last 15 games. 

July 16, 2009 -  Princeton beat Braham 11-2 in Legion baseball as Josh Vickers got the win and Tanner Neubauer, Brent Miodus and Domenic Fraboni each drove in two runs . . .  Shutout wins over Chisago Lakes (6-0) and Milaca (10-0) kept Princeton in first place in its division of the Eastern Minny. Joe Swanson and Josh Ludwig got the wins as Brian Dorr drove in three runs against Chisago Lakes, and Tyler Bialucha and Zach Neubauer each drove in three against Milaca.

July 10, 2014 - Damon Rademacher got the win in a VFW 5-4 win over St. Cloud West (St. Cloud Tech players), and Allen Linder pitched a no-hitter in a 1-0 win ini the B game that followed. 

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.

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