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The Minneapolis Millers were an Americanmarker professional minor league baseball team that played in Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker until 1960. In the 19th century a different Minneapolis Millers were part of the Western League.The team played first in Athletic Park and later Nicollet Parkmarker.
Nicollet Park, home of the Minneapolis Millers


The name Minneapolis Millers has been associated with a variety of professional minor league teams. The original Millers date back to 1884 when the Northwestern League was formed. This league failed and the Western League replaced it, absorbing some of the old teams. According to Stew Thornley, this team folded in 1891 due to financial problems. In 1894, another team calling itself the Millers was formed when Ban Johnson and Charles Comiskey revived the Western League in hopes of making it a second major league. The Millers continued to play in the Western League through 1900, when the name was changed to the American League to give it more of a national image. Following the 1900 season, several cities were abandoned for bigger markets in cities recently vacated by the National League, including Minneapolis. Some teams were transferred, as was the case of the Kansas City franchise to become the Washington Nationals . However, some of the teams were just left out in the dark. It is unclear which of these two paths the Millers took, but most evidence seems to point toward abandonment, not a transfer to Baltimore. The best way to investigate this would be to look at old rosters and compare them from year to year.

Several teams went by the nickname Millers, but the most prominent of these was the team in the American Association. The Millers won four Association pennants during the 1910-23 tenure of "Pongo Joe" Cantillon, then were managed from 1924-31 by another legend, Michael Joseph Kelley, one of the great figures of American Association history. Kelley operated the team as club president until 1946. Broadcaster Halsey Hall was the Millers' play-by-play man from 1933 until the club folded in 1960 to make way for the Minnesota Twins.

Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Carl Yastrzemski were among some future major leaguers who played for the Millers. The Millers won nine pennants in the Association from 1902 to 1960. They played their home games at Nicollet Parkmarker until 1955, the ballfeld being demolished the following year. That site, at 31st and Nicollet Avenue, is now the home of a bank. In 1956 they moved into Metropolitan Stadiummarker in Bloomington, Minnesotamarker until 1960. They had a heated crosstown rivalry with the St. Paul Saints.

Over the years the Millers were participants in four Junior World Series; matchups between the champions of the American Association and the International League. In the 1932 championship, the team was defeated by the Newark Bears 4 games to 2. The Millers, under manager Bill Rigney clinched the 1955 series against the Rochester Red Wings, 4 games to 3, in the final ball game played at Nicollet Parkmarker. In 1958, the Millers, with Gene Mauch as manager, beat the Montreal Royals 4 games to 0. Their last appearance in this Series was in 1959, with Mauch as manager, when the Millers lost the series 4 games to 3 to the Havana Sugar Kings.

After the farm system era began, the Millers were top-level affiliates of the Boston Red Sox (1936-38; 1958-60) and New York Giants (1946-57). The Red Sox actually swapped ownership of their top farm club, the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, for the Millers in 1957, enabling the Giants to move to San Francisco.

The Millers folded after the 1960 season with the arrival of the Minnesota Twins in 1961.

Notable players

Numerous famous baseball players have appeared for the Minneapolis Millers at some point in their careers, these players include:



1994 team

A new professional team bearing the name Minneapolis Millers was organized in 1994. The Great Central League comprised four independent minor league teams, with the Millers being the league's flagship team. Playing at Parade Stadiummarker within the confines of the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardenmarker, the Millers were managed by former Boston Red Sox slugger George Scott. Led by outfielders Boo Moore and Ray Moon and pitchers Jeff Gregg, Brian Heil, and Eric Lovedahl, the team finished in second place in the league's sole season of existence.

2009 return?

There have been discussions about bringing back the Millers to Burnsville, Minnesotamarker for the 2009 season as a part of the Northern League. They would be called the Metro Millers and play in a new stadium to be built near the intersection of Highway 13 and Interstate 35W.

References

  • "Before the Dome", Nodin Press, 1993, edited by David Anderson.
  • "On to Nicollet: The Glory and Fame of the Minneapolis Millers", Nodin Press, 1988, by Stew Thornley.
  • "Ballparks of North America", McFarland & Company, 1989, by Michael Benson.
  • "Green Cathedrals", SABR, 1986, and Addison-Wesley, 1992, by Phil Lowry.



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