Parkway Little League, Saint Paul, Minnesota: History

Friday, February 12
The BeginningÂ…

On June 6, 1955 a young batter stepped up and the first ball ever pitched in a Parkway Little League game headed toward the plate. There is no record of whether or not it was a strike, but either way it was a historic moment for Dayton’s Bluff.

A decade later, the founder of this important neighborhood institution wrote a shirt story of the group. He was Harold Dahlquist, for whom today’s baseball fields are named. While some of this information was printed in this paper three years ago, this article is placed in a different format and is mostly directly quoted from Mr. Dahlquist.

Before the main body of the his history, he included a short cover letter, which in part said:

“The following pages contain a documented history of Parkway Little League and Parkway Pony League and describe the origin, promotion and construction of this baseball organization as now constituted and presently permanently located on East Third Street across from Mounds Park Junior High School…

Mrs. Dahlquist and I owned two lots behind our home at 1346 East Third Street on which we constructed a tennis court in summer and a large ice skating rink in winter for the children of our neighborhood…”

What follows is the story of the start of Parkway Little League as told in the words of Harold Dahlquist:

March 6, 1965 will be a red letter day for Parkway Little League for it will mark the 10th anniversary of the first meeting of a group of men who were invited by the writer to meet…at 450 Johnson Parkway…to discuss whether or not they would be interested in bringing little league baseball to the parkway area. A number of these meetings were held and an application made for a Little League franchise…

A general meeting of parents from the area was held on April 15, attended by about 60 men and they heartily endorsed Little League…”

I contracted a firm which owned a tract of land behind my house at 1346 East Third Street and obtained the loan of this land…and permission to grade it…A baseball diamond was laid out, some pipe and chicken wire procured for a back-stop, uniforms and equipment were ordered for four ‘Major’ and eight ‘Farm’ teams. I secured a donation of a scoreboard from 7-Up Co., and the loan of snow fencing from the City to enclose the field…To help raise funds a concession stand was operated by Mrs. Dahlquist in our garage, which also served for a storage place for equipment. Later some of the Ladies pitched in to help in the concession stand…

The opening ball game of Parkway Little League was played on the evening of June 6, 1955 after it had rained most of the day…The only opening game ceremony was the presentation of the American Flag to the league by a local American Legion Post…and after the Flag was raised on the centerfield flag pole, it was ‘Play Ball!’

Over 300 boys turned out and many practice sessions were held, but because of lack of facilities and the shortage of time only about 200 too part in the program that first year…

A tremendous amount of physical work was done to get the fields ready for play. At the close of the first season it became apparent that the owners of the land borrowed for the playing field would soon be developing it for commercial use and it was necessary to find a permanent home if Little League was to continue.

After an exhaustive search I found…three tracts totaling 620 feet deep to Conway Street…to be out up for sale by the City at public auction on October 9th…The land rose from a hole (known as Rifle Lake) about thirty feet below the level of 3rd Street…and was covered with many trees and much brush, which was to make grading an expensive item…

The Spring of 1956 was a beehive of activity. A tremendous amount of physical work was done to get the fields ready for play. The grounds had to be raked over, some black dirt hauled in for the infields, two fields were laid out, back stops constructed, players benches built…

I was able to borrow snow fencing from Ramsey County, which we installed around both playing fields…Play opened on June 5, 1956 with four Major and 14 Farm teams in Little League and two Farm teams in Pony League…concessions were transported from the Dahlquist garage for each game…

I was forced to withdraw from active participation during the 1957 season, but I had realized many dream of leaving Parkway as a well-established and solvent undertaking and my work was done.

A record of this kind cannot give just and true credit to all those who have participated in this project even though it would be right to do so. However, a list of names would have to include almost every businessman large and small, every clergyman, board member, umpire, manager, coach, members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary and many residents who have performed physical and other tasks, given donations and have been supporters at the games.”