St. Paul Saints (1901–60)
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The St. Paul Saints were a baseball team who represented St. Paul, Minnesota in the Western League from 1894 to 1899 and the American Association from 1902 to 1960. They originated as the Sioux City franchise in the Western League which reorganized itself in November, 1893, with Ban Johnson as President. Johnson, a Cincinnati-based reporter, had been recommended by his friend Charles Comiskey, former major league star with the St. Louis Browns in the 1880s, who was then managing the Cincinnati Reds. After the 1894 season, when Comiskey's contract with the Reds was up, he decided to take his chances at ownership. He bought the Sioux City team and transferred it to St. Paul, where it enjoyed some success over the next 5 seasons.
In 1900 the Western League changed its name to the American League. It was still officially a minor league, a part of the National Agreement and an underling of the National League. The NL actually gave permission to the AL to put a team in Chicago, and on March 21, 1900, Comiskey moved his St. Paul club to the South Side, where they became the Chicago White Sox. In 1901, the AL declared itself a major league. In 1902, cast-aside Minneapolis joined St. Paul and other Midwestern cities to form a new minor league, the American Association.
Roy Campanella, Leo Durocher, Lefty Gomez and Duke Snider were among some future major leaguers who played for the Saints. Hall of Fame inductees who managed the St. Paul Saints were Walter Alston in 1948 and 1949, and Charles Comiskey from 1895 to 1899.
After decades of independence, the Saints became a farm club affiliate of the Chicago White Sox (1936–1942), the Brooklyn Dodgers (1944–1957), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1958–1960). Their Minnesota rivals, the Minneapolis Millers, were during different periods the top minor league affiliate of the New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox.
The Saints played the first two years at the Dale and Aurora Grounds in St. Paul. The Saints also played from 1903 to 1909 at a downtown ballpark located on Robert Street between 12th and 13th Streets, and at the original Lexington Park at Lexington and University Avenue until 1913 when a fire damaged the structure. A new ballpark with a seating capacity of 10,000 was constructed in 1914 at University and Dunlap, which served as the home of the Saints through 1956. The Saints played their final four seasons at Midway Stadium, a modern ballpark located at 1000 North Snelling Avenue with a seating capacity of more than 13,000.
The two rival Twin Cities ball clubs played heated "streetcar double-headers" on holidays, playing one game in each city. Over the years 1902-60, the Saints compiled a 4719-4435 record, second only in winning percentage to the Millers' .524. The Saints won nine league pennants, and won the Little World Series championship in 1924, topping the Baltimore Orioles in ten games.
A newer version of the team began play in 1993 and currently plays in the new American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.
Numerous famous baseball players, managers and coaches have appeared for the St. Paul Saints as players at some point in their careers. These players include:
- Sandy Amoros (1951)
- Ginger Beaumont (1911)
- Joe Black (1951)
- Ralph Branca (1945-1946)
- Ben Chapman (1929)
- Pat Collins (1925)
- Roy Campanella (1948)
- Chuck Dressen (1921-1924)
- Leo Durocher (1927)
- Lefty Gomez (1930)
- Bubbles Hargrave (1918-1920, 1929)
- Miller Huggins (1901-1903)
- Mark Koenig (1921-1922, 1924-1925)
- Clem Labine (1949-1952)
- Gene Mauch (1946)
- Chief Meyers (1908)
- Cy Morgan (1906)
- Johnny Murphy (1930-1931)
- Duke Snider (1947)
- Dick Williams (1954)
- Don Zimmer (1953)