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Slouching Toward Fargo–Back in Print!

Posted byAlison Aten on 08 Sep 2014 | Tagged as: Authors, Event, Sports


Slouching Toward Fargo

A Two-Year Saga of Sinners and St. Paul Saints at the Bottom of the Bush Leagues with Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie, and Me

By Neal Karlen
With a Foreword by Mike Veeck

The Casey Award–winning account of life in the minor leagues, celebrating the game, the characters who love it, and the magic that can happen when a town, a team, and a ball player get a second chance.

Meet the author!

Tuesday September 16, 2014 at 7 pm
Subtext Bookstore, St. Paul

In his classic account of two years with the most audacious bush league ballclub ever to plumb the bottom of the pro sports barrel, Neal Karlen presents a dizzying collection of characters: co-owners comedian Bill Murray and sports impresario Mike Veeck; baseball’s former winningest pitcher Jack Morris; outfielder Darryl Strawberry, on his way back to the majors; the back-rubbing Sister Rosalind; baseball’s first woman player Ila Borders; frantic fans, a ball-carrying pig, a blind sportscaster, and a host of others. They all prove the credo of the Saints: Fun is Good.

“Hilarious, insightful, touching, informative, Neal Karlen’s baseball account delivers a world of vivid characters and ironic redemptions. Karlen is simply one of the best, most sophisticated, and literate practitioners of journalism we have. He goes out and gets the full story, while turning himself into a wonderfully self-mocking, truthful, and likable narrator. I loved every page of this book.”
Phillip Lopate, author, essayist, and film critic

“Two things make it great: characters and story line. The tale is rendered in hilarious fashion, mixing plenty of baseball with plenty of laughs.”
Rocky Mountain News

“A fun-is-good book  . . . [with] enough oddballs to make Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland seem like a straightforward account of a schoolgirl’s visit to a theme park.”
Sports Illustrated

“The funkiest team in baseball.”
The New York Times

Neal Karlen, who has written for the New York TimesNewsweek, and Rolling Stone, is the author or co-author of seven books, including Augie’s Secrets from the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

$17.95 paper, available September 2014
384 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4, 51 b&w photos, index, 978-0-87351-951-9

Available September 2014 from Minnesota Historical Society Press

A Celebration of Childhood Spent on Frozen Lakes

Posted byAlison Aten on 25 Jan 2013 | Tagged as: Children, Event, Sports

One Frozen LakeTomorrow, Saturday January 26, at 11 am
Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis
Come check out real ice fishing equipment with author Deb Larson and her husband at Wild Rumpus, play a fishing game, and enjoy hot cider as Deb reads her new book, One Frozen Lake. Then, weather permitting, join her on Lake Harriet for an ice-fishing demonstration after the store event!

Publishers Weekly Starred Review!
“[A]n atmospheric ode to ice fishing and intergenerational companionship . . . readers will come to recognize that a day spent in good company is more important than whether one’s fishing bucket is full on the way home.”


Somali Soccer Tournament-Displaying Athleticism with a Purpose

Posted byreyescarlosa on 30 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: African American, Event, Immigration, Sports


Somali American Independence Day Sports Tournament

The 8th Annual Somali American Independence Day Tournament began this past weekend at St. Paul Central High School and will come to a close when a champion is crowned on July 4th. The tournament celebrates both the Independence Day of Somalia, which is July 1st, and the Independence Day of the United States, the Somali community’s new home.

We are not coming here to play the best players in the world or the best in the United States, we are coming here to play with people that have a common identity with us. We are Somalia, and we are American now,” says Guled Dalmar, 27, of Dallas, TX, in an interview by Andy Gerder in the Pioneer Press. The tournament not only unites Somali refugees from all over the country to share the sport they all love, but it also creates an open forum for the players and spectators to share their stories of hardship and triumph with their fellow countrymen.

As Guled Dalmar mentions, a shared Somali American identity unites the participants. But as we discover through Minnesota Historical Society’s Becoming Minnesotan: Minnesota Immigrant Oral Histories  Project, the topic of identity is difficult for all recent immigrants, including the Somali population.

Throughout this series of wonderful interviews, the issues of cultural preservation and identity, assimilation into American culture, and the difficulties navigating the transition are especially difficult given the deep traditions within Somali culture.  For example, Maryan Del, a participant in the oral histories project, discusses the importance of the Hijab, the traditional headscarf worn by devout Muslim women for the sake of modesty, and tells how women make a decision whether or not to wear it.

To hear more Somali oral histories and learn more about the Somali community in the Twin Cities, follow this link and click “Somali Stories.”

Minnesota Basketball Fans Know It’s Always Worth the Wait

Posted byreyescarlosa on 21 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: MHS press, Sports

The wait is over! After two long years, Ricky Rubio, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, has finally arrived in the North Star State. He was greeted by 200+ fans and reporters ready to give him a warm ‘Minnesota Nice’ welcome. Upon being drafted in ‘09, Rubio decided to stay in Spain to play out the remainder of his contract, which did not allow for his release until 2011, and to take time to mature as a player on the court.  Below is an exclusive one-on-one interview with Ricky Rubio.

If you think two years is a long time, try roughly two decades! That’s how long the state had gone without a professional basketball team before the Timberwolves settled here. This story and more are collected in Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State, written by Marc Hugunin and Stew Thornley.

The state’s first professional basketball team was the Minneapolis Lakers, which began competing in 1947. Sadly, the team departed in 1960 to become the present-day Los Angeles Lakers. Though the American Basketball Association attempted to make a lasting impression with the Minnesota Muskies and Minnesota Pipers, each team stayed only a year before moving elsewhere, having played in front of mostly empty seats at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington. After much patient waiting, Minnesota finally got to field a professional basketball team again when on November 3, 1989, the Timberwolves played their first regular season game against the Supersonics of Seattle. After hearing that story, two years of waiting for Ricky Rubio does not seem so bad, now does it?

To learn more about the rich history of basketball in Minnesota, be sure to check out Minnesota Hoops: Basketball in the North Star State.

Q & A with Author George Schire

Posted bypennefesm on 30 Apr 2010 | Tagged as: Authors, History, Interview, MHS press, Sports

Layout 1  Minnesota’s Golden Age of Wrestling: From Verne Gagne to the Road Warriors is a fun and fascinating history of the glory days of old-school professional wrestling in the state. Author George Schire has been a longtime fan, and a writer and columnist for national wrestling publications, as well as a ring announcer. Today he shares with the Press some inside stories of the Golden Age. Schire will also discuss the book and sign copies at Barnes and Noble, Har-Mar Mall, Roseville, on Thursday, May 6, at 7 p.m.

Q: So many wrestling fans across the region remember gathering around the TV Saturday nights (or Sunday mornings) to watch All-Star Wrestling. Early broadcasts date back to the 1940s.  But fans could see wrestlers in live matches at arenas around the state. What were some of Minnesota’s favorite venues?
A:  Professional wrestling matches were held at city civic auditoriums (the Minneapolis Auditorium and St. Paul Auditorium, for example) and also the local National Guard armories in cities throughout Minnesota. But “spot shows,” as they were called, were also held in VFW and Legion halls and even in high school gyms.

Q: Seems like spectators could be the most dangerous folks in the arena. Did any wrestlers ever get hurt by a local who took the event a little too seriously?
A: Wrestlers will always tell you that sometimes it was the fans they had to fear most. There were always incidents of a fan charging the ring in an attempt to attack a bad guy, or attempting to attack wrestlers as they went to and from the ring. Dr. Bill Miller, who wrestled as “Mister M” in the Twin Cities, was once hit by a two-by-four piece of wood that opened a heaGeorge with Big K, Hennig, and Vachond wound and required several stitches in the dressing room.

Q: We tend to remember the most famous wrestlers, and each of us have some of our favorites. You talk about so many in the book. Who were your favorites as a boy and teen growing up?
A: Since I was always interested in the inner workings of the business and how matches were worked, I tended to be a fan of the heels (the bad guys)—Doctor “X” and Harley Race, to name two of them. If a heel was successful with his act, he was able to put fans in the seats, and the more fans, the more money there was to be made.

Q: When new talent was “discovered,” how had they typically come to be part of the circuit?
A: Verne Gagne’s Minnesota territory emphasized that wrestlers have a solid amateur wrestling background, and so many times those amateur wrestlers would seek Gagne out for their professional training.  But word of mouth was common, too. Many times a guy would be recommended to Gagne (and other trainers) to get his start in the business.

Q: How did wrestlers develop their body types? That is, what do you know of their conditioning routines?
A: Unlike today’s overdeveloped muscle heads, wrestlers of the Golden Age often relied on some weight lifting, running, and various isometric exercises to keep themselves in condition. But remember, most wrestlers would work matches 300 to 365 nights a year, and so oftentimes those 30- to 90-minute workouts in the ring were sufficient to keep them in what Harley Race called, “Mat Shape.”

Q: Wrestlers were real people, after all. Did any of them have surprising off-ring careers? Any interesting post-wrestling vocations or hobbies?
A: Most wrestlers of the Golden Age who were the high-profile stars did not have outside professions while they wrestled. But once their careers were over, it wasn’t uncommon for some of them to get into businesses unrelated to wrestling altogether. Larry Hennig became a successful real estate broker and auctioneer. Baron Von Raschke had a teaching degree and taught school after his wrestling days. Dr. Bill Miller (Mister M, mentioned earlier) was a veterinarian and practiced for many years. Dick Beyer (Doctor “X”) became a high school wrestling coach after his days in the ring, and Nick Bockwinkel developed a career selling life insurance and annuities.  Many other ex-wrestlers owned bars and restaurants or dry-cleaning businesses, and some went on to serve in law-enforcement professions.

(Photo courtesy the author: Big K, Schire, Hennig, and Vachon, 1991)

Baseball on Our Minds

Posted bypennefesm on 26 Mar 2010 | Tagged as: African American, History, Sports

php7ksF4TWith Saturday’s open house at the new Target Field, followed by the Gophers­-Louisiana Tech game, we’re reminded of the many terrific baseball stories in Swinging for the Fences: Black Baseball in Minnesota,edited by Steve Hoffbeck. Here’s a fun sample: “Willie Mays with the Minneapolis Millers, 1951.”

Crispin Iceball: Saturday, January 30 at 11:00 a.m.

Posted bypennefesm on 29 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Authors, Event, MHS press, Nonprofit, Sports

Bundle up! It’s a spirited game of “iceball”–or outdoor baseball in the middle of winter, all for a good cause–with the folks at Crispin Natural Hard Cider and the St. Paul Saints. This chilly good time features the St. Paul Saints in a benefit game for Second Harvest Heartland. Admission is free; however, donations are encouraged: for each $1 donated, Second Harvest Heartland will distribute more than $9 worth of grocery products for those in need. Along with money and nonperishable food, fans are also encouraged to bring warm jackets and clothing that will be collected by Joseph’s Coats. Last year’s event raised $20,000, and the game-time temperature was in the single digits. At 11 am, a tailgating party will ensue, and around noon fans will be invited to sample recipes which will be judged by the culinary experts of Also during the tailgate, stay warm by dancing about to the stellar sounds of Romantica and the Spectaculars. Family fun, baseball, Crispin Hard Cider, and do-goodery all in one shot! Tailgating starts on Saturday at 11 a.m., and the first pitch is at 1:30 p.m. For more info visit (via
phpThZbsoTo learn more about the St. Paul Saints, see Stew Thornley’s Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History.

Got Game?

Posted bypennefesm on 13 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Authors, History, MHS press, Sports

Fran Tarkenton, about 1975Prepare for the Vikings’ postseason play by boning up on stats with Joel Rippel’s Minnesota Sports Almanac, which features just about every sport championed by Minnesota’s own, including football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, fishing, hunting, soccer, tennis, gymnastics, skating, dogsledding, curling, running, bike racing, auto racing, swimming, volleyball, cheerleading, and more.

Rippel, a longtime sports  reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, includes a dizzying variety of informative data, including the Vikings’ year-by-year records, lists of games not played on Sundays, attendance records (largest and smallest), postseason honors, first-round draft choices, significant players, coaches, and events, and a fun set of players’ records, some of which are here.

[Image: Fran Tarkenton, about 1975, courtesy Minnesota Historical Society]

Go, Gophers!

Posted bypennefesm on 20 Nov 2009 | Tagged as: Authors, Gophers, History, MHS press, Sports

Floyd of RosedaleThe Minnesota Gophers football team wraps up the regular season with a trip to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday. The Gophers (6–5) will face off against the Iowa Hawkeyes (9–2)  in the schools’ annual battle for Floyd of Rosedale. Kickoff is slated for 11:02 a.m.

If you’re a college football fan, you know this border battle is one of many traditions for the Golden Gophers. In the MHS Press book Minnesota Sports Almanac: 125 Glorious Years by Joel A. Rippel (with foreword by Patrick Reusse), you’ll find all kinds of stats and stories of the Gophers football program (dating back to their first game in 1882), including other infamous Big Ten trophy showdowns (the fight for Paul Bunyan’s Axe against Wisconsin, for the Little Brown Jug against Michigan, and for the Victory Bell against Penn State). And in Rippel’s profiles of Minnesota’s national title teams in the 1930s, ’40s, and 1960, under the leadership of highly respected coaches Bernie Bierman and Murray Warmath, you’ll learn the real history behind the recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal that Minnesota, Tulane, Southern Methodist, and the University of Chicago are all former college football powers that at one time “had it all — and lost it.”

Minnesota Baseball Fever - Win a Free Book

Posted byMary Poggione on 07 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Sports

Baseball in Minnesota book coverSo, this week, everyone’s a Twins fan, but how well do you really know Minnesota baseball?

The first five people to answer the following questions correctly will win a free copy of our book Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History by Stew Thornley!

Send your answers to We will write you for a mailing address if you are one of the lucky winners.

Here we go:

1. What year did Kirby Puckett join the Twins?

2. On what date did Harmon Killebrew hit his first homerun for the Twins and how far did the ball go (estimate)?

3. In the spring of 1965, there was a lot of flooding. For the home opener, 4 members of the Twins were marooned on the wrong side of the swollen Minnesota River. They had to be flown to the game by helicopter. Name them.

Good luck all!