While many sports and activities go on during the summer, St. James is a community that spends a lot of time on the ‘America’s pastime.’
For the kids of St. James, there are a multitude of baseball teams to play on, and some of the players play on two or three teams during the summer.
One dad said to me that his son was on three teams and scheduled to play 13 games in one week. That’s double the usual number of games a typical major league team will play in a week.
A busy schedule does give the young St. James players a chance to get better and sometimes all the extra play means it gives these players a chance to get real good.
It is a game you play. Hall of Fame member Wille Stargell was fond of telling people that you didn’t work baseball you played baseball.
All of this small town baseball playing reminded me of a scene in one of the all time male weepies ‘Field of Dreams’.
Driving back to heaven, err Iowa, Ray and Terrance Mann have picked up a teenage hitchhiker who is Archie (Moonlight) Graham.
Archie says, “Well if it’s okay with you, I’ll ride along for a while. I play baseball.
“I’m looking for a place to play, and I hear through the Midwest, towns have teams, and in some places they’ll find you a day job so you can play ball nights and weekends.”
Later when young Moonlight is sleeping Ray says, “Funny, the way he described towns, finding you a job so you can play on their teams - they haven’t done that for years. My Dad did that for a while, but that was in the Twenties.”
‘They’ may not find you a job these days, but the part about “through the Midwest, towns have teams,” endures.
St. James kids play other kids from the small towns across Minnesota. In the first months of summer the St. James boys of summer scatter across the prairie to compete against other small town teams. With the St. James A’s, it’s men that play against the other small town baseball teams of Southern Minnesota.
As was spoken in one of the greatest speeches in all of movie history, “People will come.....
“They’ll walk out to the bleachers and sit in shirtsleeves in a perfect afternoon......
They’ll watch the game, and it will be as if they’d dipped themselves in the magic waters.....
“The one constant through the years Ray is baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game - it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us all that once was good. And that could be again. Oh, people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
People will come and plays will be made. Plays will be made this summer that both boys and girls will remember the rest of their lives.
Be they home runs, or game winning hits, or great catches, the kids making them this summer will remember them as long as they live. Magic waters indeed!