Sportress of Blogitude

Blatant Homerism

Co-owner Bill Murray plays ticket-taker at St. Paul Saints’ stadium finale (video)


After 22 years in the quirky ballpark that is Midway Stadium that saw more than its fair share of quirky gimmicks and promotions — remember the “Ball Pig,” the rotating names of its pig mascot, including “Brat Favre” and “Justin Bieboar”, not to mention the nun that gives massages during games, among others? — the St. Paul Saints bid adieu to its rickety but charming stadium on Thursday night.

The team will be moving from its current industrial park environs to a brand-spanking-new Lowertown Ballpark in Downtown St. Paul next season, but not before 9,455 fans packed the stadium for one last nostalgic hurrah on Thursday for its last home game against the Winnipeg Goldeneyes.

Among the luminaries to attend the nostalgic farewell was team co-owner Bill Murray, who arguably is about as fitting an investor for such a odd independent league baseball team.

Murray shares ownership in the team with principal owner Mike Veeck, son of Bill Veeck, a man who made his way in major league ball as the trailblazing owner of the Chicago White Sox, infamously known for the Comiskey Park promotional event that still lives in infamy: Disco Demolition Night, a night that devolved into chaos and riots on a July evening in 1979.

But all eyes were on Murray on Thursday night, as the esteemed actor and noted eccentric tore tickets and awed fans making their way into the ballpark.

“One of the problems when you have Bill taking tickets is he jams up the line!” Veeck told KARE-TV. “I don’t know what that’s about!”

Murray, who played the role of catcher for the ceremonial first pitch, hugging Veeck afterward.

He later reminisced about his time as Saints co-owner, including the rain that greeted the team on the stadium’s first night.

“I remember the first night we opened here it drizzled through the entire game, and the fans just stayed because they’d been waiting so long for outdoor baseball,” Murray said, recalling how for a long time, the Saints were the only outdoor baseball ticket in town, long before Target Field was built.

“Everyone was drenched,” he continued. “And I remembered our announcer in the seventh inning said, ‘Don’t forget tonight is fireworks night,’ and the crowd just rose as one and screamed!”

But Murray is excited for the team’s move to the new digs next season.”It will be good for Saint Paul to have a ballpark downtown,” Murray said. “When you see how it’s going to affect thing, I think it’s going to be a very good thing.”

(top image via @JDfromCJAY)