Getting Married in a Baseball Stadium [8th inning]
Having so much fun dating, playing ball and getting into politics, I didn’t settle down until the age of 45. There are lots of stories about my lifetime partner, Ace (who got her nickname playing poker), in Volume I of Growing Up Then & Now. This is about our baseball connection.
By 1995 Ace & I were both elected office holders, and for sure we wanted to have a big wedding, so I suggested the St. Paul Saints ballpark for the venue with its 6,000 + capacity. To Ace’s credit, she dropped any hint of skepticism once she saw there was plenty of space under the grandstand in case of rain. We had lots of fun planning. First we got Mike Veeck (the son of Bill Veeck – see 2nd inning supra) to agree to let us use his park. Then we got former Chief Justice Sandy Keith to preside. Then we decided on Willie Murphy to be our musician (over Trailer Trash). Then we got our friends at Red Lake to fish us some walleye and my farmer friend Bob to bring in a field of corn on the cob. Besides spreading the word, the only thing left was designing a Frisbee golf course.*
Although her tiny wrists kept her from ever being a baseball slugger, Ace can play Frisbee with the best of ‘em. Hank Aaron, baseball’s all-time Home Run hitter (after Babe Ruth and before steroids), gives his father credit for becoming such a prodigious slugger: Growing up, every night before bedtime, Hank would have to pull a comb through his kinky hair 100 times lefty and then 100 times righty to develop wrist strength.
At any rate, so long as there was going to be a Frisbee golf course, Ellen (Ace) was okay with having our reception at the Saints baseball stadium. We actually got married at a small, mostly family, ceremony in her flowerful backyard before traveling the 5 minutes to the ballpark; but for me the bigger deal was the reception. Keep in mind that it took a really, really wonderful lady to get me to the altar. I was steeped in the politics of marriage being too tied in with convention and said more than once the only way I’d get married is if it were in an opium den in China – i.e., not likely. But with a beautiful bride and the Bill Veeck / Mike Veeck connection to my love for baseball, it was as good as an opium den.
Ellen went on to be the Saints best champion at the legislature and Mike continued in the tradition of his father when he had Minnie Minoso Day at the Saints Stadium. Minnie was in a White Sox uniform when I was born, playing for Mike’s dad, and in the year 2000 Mike signed Minnie to a one day contract so Minnie could say he was the only professional ballplayer ever to have played in seven decades. The hit Minnie got that day, pinch hitting in the 8th Inning, was a little like my fly to McHugh in the 7th.
*It was in 1975 that I started playing Frisbee golf – in fact I consider myself the inventor of Frisbee Golf. Maybe somewhere else others were doing what I was doing, but I was the only person I knew who played with myself. Out the front door; hit the dentist sign on the corner; go for the stop sign; cross the river at an angle with a good approach shot (otherwise just skitter it across the bridge); and so on for 9 holes until I arrived at the law office and wrote down my score – doing the back 9 on the way home.
Tomorrow: Nicky Mantle