Some nights Calvin R. Griffith, proprietor of the Minnesota Twins, must wake up shouting:
"Butte, Billings and Blooming Prairie! Coon Rapids, Circle Pines, Grey Eagle and Owatonna! Devils Lake, Fargo, Sauk Center and Bismarck! Come one, come all! Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan! Send us your delegations and see your home town's name flashed on that big scoreboard! Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan—there are still choice seats available!"
Admittedly, that's a pretty long shout, but if Mr. Griffith is subject to such pleasant nightmares nobody deserves them more. For one thing, Mr. Griffith must have had many a horrible dream when he was operating the old Washington Senators (born again as the Twins) in a ramshackle ball park that sometimes, with the team deep in eighth place, had difficulty drawing fans across the street. Now, thanks to a team that is very much in contention and thanks, too, to intensive off-season promotion work, Mr. Griffith recently had the pleasure of seeing Metropolitan Stadium in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington jammed to capacity with people from seven states and three Canadian provinces. It was a three-game series—with the Yankees, naturally.
One group of 110 traveled 1,100 miles from Butte, Mont, on a Milwaukee Road special train that made stops at 21 other Montana towns and five Dakota towns. The delegations throughout the vast area were sponsored by Lions Clubs, the Shriners, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, business firms and radio stations. St. Mary's Church in For-man, N.Dak. sent its altar boys by special bus. Some smaller groups came by chartered plane and private railroad coaches—all contributing in their fashion to the purse and peace of mind of Calvin G.
The excitement that preceded the departure for Minneapolis and the Big Yankee series could be observed in the thriving North Dakota town of Devils Lake (pop. about 7,000). There were two groups going from Devils Lake. One of about 30 fans, all Shriners, was headed up by Russ Dushinske, the editor of the daily Journal. The other, numbering almost 50, was organized by Paul Lange, the commercial manager, and Bert Wick, the owner, of radio station KDLR—which will sell you a spot announcement for as little as $3.50 and send it booming over the Devils Lake listening area with a 250-watt wallop. The Shriners were going to make the 400-odd-mile trip by chartered bus. The KDLR crowd was driving to New Rockford to catch a special car on the Great Northern Railway's Western Star, a main-liner from Seattle.
Spirits ran high in Devils Lake for a week before the big day of the takeoff. But it should be remembered that Devils Lake has other reasons to feel good this summer. The local drinking water, which had been so unpalatable that citizens were importing bottled water, is now being supplied through a new pipeline and is no longer productive of grave gastrointestinal disturbances. Moreover, early summer rains have assured the farmers of a bumper crop of durum wheat, on which the town's economy depends entirely. Durum wheat doesn't go into government storage but commands premium prices from spaghetti and macaroni manufacturers. A good wheat crop around Devils Lake means that the 20-odd saloons will thrive all winter, that the Haugner boys, Bill and Ole, will move a lot of television and hi-fi sets and that their brother Mag, who works at Shark's clothing store, will sell a lot of suits and overcoats. It means that everybody will be able to pay his annual $80 dues at the country club. It means, too, that Dawson's Lounge, a family-type nightclub, will continue to import "name entertainers" from Chicago and Milwaukee; that the Ranch, a superior steak house, will prosper along with The Duke and The Duchess, nightclub and bowling emporium respectively, and Ye Old Tavern where David (Gravy) McPhail, the comical bartender, keeps the patrons in stitches with remarks that he makes up on the spur of the moment. Gravy was a member of the KDLR delegation and planned to wear his umpire's cap (he officiates at amateur and semipro baseball games in Devils Lake and nearby towns) all the way to Minneapolis and throughout his stay there.
Everywhere in town the talk was of the approaching baseball pilgrimage. On a street corner under the big electric sign of the Otter Tail Power Company, a pair of buxom matrons discussed the impending event in accents that were derived from German and Norwegian ancestries (these are the two predominant strains in Devils Lake) and, on the whole, they registered strong approval.
"Ja," said one, it does the boys good to get away from the wives once in a while."
"Oh, Ja," said the other. "And what is the harm? Maybe a few little beers and staying up singing songs after the ball game, but it's all just fun, you know?"
"Ja," said the first matron, "but still it takes a lot out. Not enough sleep and eating hot dogs only?"