morris mn - We're a community on the grand, seemingly endless prairie of the Upper Midwest. Empty, you might say? It's the epitome of richness, both in the overall environment and the hardy souls who populate. Morris is home to the University of Minnesota-Morris, a small public liberal arts college of distinction.
History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Albie Pearson endears with signature on glove
had two baseball gloves in my childhood. One was a first baseman's
glove that was already worn when I acquired it. A first baseman's glove
has a distinctive design. My other glove had the signature of a big
league ballplayer on it. We got this glove at the old Cruze Electric and Sporting Goods store in Morris.
Pearson's name graced the glove. He wasn't an all-out superstar. He is
best known for helping launch the new Los Angeles Angels franchise in
1961.The Angels were born the same year as our Minnesota Twins. Our team
wasn't really new as it was transplanted from Washington D.C.
Angels were created to give an American League counterpart to the Los
Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers had left Brooklyn for the very inviting
West Coast. In the old days, "a trip west" meant St. Louis or Chicago! The old Pacific Coast League was technically minor league, but it had a
reputation for talent comparable to the bigs. Major league baseball eventually stretched its legs to cover the whole U.S. Goodbye to train travel.
Let's not judge by size
had one other chief trademark, besides being a key player with the
fledgling Angels: he was very short of stature. He stood five feet/six
inches and weighed 140 pounds. He batted and threw lefthanded. He glided across the outfield grass in center.
with Calvin Griffith's Washington Senators for two years in the late
1950s. He then had a stint with the Baltimore Orioles before his Angels
chapter began. He scored the first run for the new team. Gene Autry
of the glittering Hollywood universe owned the Angels. The team did not
entertain that great its first year. Little was expected from the
expansion teams of that era. Like clockwork they would struggle, as if
they were having to pay dues.
The Angels placed eighth in the
American League in 1961 with a record of 70-91. They were nearly 40
games behind the world champion Yankees. It was the year Roger Maris hit
61 home runs. Pearson had the team's best batting average. He also set
the pace in stolen bases (11), runs scored (92) and walks (96). Leon
Wagner hit 28 home runs in that inaugural year for the club. Remember
how Wagner was tagged with the affectionate nickname "Daddy Wags?"
A better team than they appeared
remember the Angels as a not very exciting team in the 1960s. They had
assets that weren't as easy to appreciate as for our Minnesota Twins.
Let's look at the 1964 rosters for the two clubs. Minnesota had a lineup
that looked World Series-worthy, and would you believe our pitching
didn't seem that bad either? We had Jim Kaat and "Mudcat"
Grant. How did we do? We finished in a tie for sixth with Cleveland.
Finishing ahead of us were the Los Angeles Angels. It must have been the
pitching that did it. The L.A. lineup seemed most pedestrian.
The Angels had Dean Chance as a marquee pitcher. He would later become a Twin. Bo Belinsky made his mark as an Angels pitcher, but it was due in large part to lifestyle. He rubbed shoulders with the stars.
Pearson was named Rookie of the Year with the Washington Senators in
'58. His performance lagged for a time, setting the stage for his trade
to Baltimore. He was traded for Lenny Green, later to become a Twin.
Pearson's career stagnated through 1960, and he was taken as the 30th
(and last) pick in the expansion draft. He donned that Angels uniform.
Whatever had been hindering him got wiped away, and he found his native California much to his liking.
Finding his stride as an Angel
scored that first Angels run in a 7-0 win over the Orioles. The
diminutive guy batted a fine .288 in '61. He scored 92 runs. But his
best season was '63 when he played 160 games, rapped 173 hits and stole
17 bases. He made the All-Star team. He was a .300 hitter and placed
fourth in the batting average race.
The little guy clearly
made his mark before back problems caught up to him. That physical
malady nudged him into retirement after the 1966 season. He left the
game as a .270 career hitter. He played 988 games.
think I still have that old baseball glove. I don't think it's in the
basement. It got worn pretty good. I played two years of little league
here in Morris. It was a big deal to have "uniforms" in the form of
T-shirts. Today we see the major league facsimile uniforms which the
kids take for granted.
I was a typical first-year little
league player, struggling often, but in year 2, I got the hang of it. I
never played Babe Ruth or at any other level thereafter. Rick Lucken
once said the biggest transition in sports is the difference in length
from the pitching rubber to home plate, between little league and Babe
I'll never forget that Albie Pearson name on my
baseball glove. I think the glove cost something like $15, then
considered exorbitant for such an item. Prices were often high in those
mom-and-pop main street stores of that age. Before Wal-Mart.
street of Morris was a real focal point of the area, a hub of social
life. We had the classic "pool hall." Such was the popularity of
"downtown," people had to pay to park (through parking meters). Stores
would be open one night a week. That night was a catalyst for social
contact among Morris residents. We'd make the rounds and see our
neighbors and friends. Cruze Electric and Sporting Goods might be on our list. We might dine at the Del Monico Café.
downtown Morris continues to have its complexion changed, as now the
drugstores are deserting us, both of them. The drug stores are heading
to the outskirts, reflecting the widespread trend. You can't fight
I just found out that the Bon Jos store is closing.
Leaving baseball for a grander cause
Pearson has been an exemplary human being. You might say his life just
got going after 1966, as he seemed to discover his primary calling - not
baseball. He became ordained as a minister. He set up churches and
orphanages in Ecuador and Zambia. He launched Father's Heart
International. He has touched many people who had to be reminded he had a
"past life" in baseball. People needed some reminding that Pearson,
under the Klieg lights of big league baseball, hit a grand slam for Baltimore in 1960, and that - can you believe it? - won the start in centerfield over a slow-starting Mickey Mantle in the 1963 All-Star game.
boy in need, who's hungry, hurt or seemingly without hope, needn't care
much about baseball. But Pearson has been there for such youth as an
Pearson has been a model in his personal
life, maintaining a lifelong marriage to Helen, with whom he started a
foundation to help troubled youth when Albie was still a player. In
1997, Albie and Helen sold their home, bought an eleven-acre parcel in
Desert Hot Springs CA, and built a house they christened Father's Heart
Albie and Helen raised a family of five children. Many
grandchildren and great-grandchildren have come along. Father's Heart
International has fed countless Zambian children who have lost their
parents to AIDs. Father's Heart Ranch has been an asset to many boys who have been placed by Social Services in Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties (CA).
said the boys "need to see they have a purpose. That takes time and
trust." He reflected on a seven-year-old boy who came to the ranch,
scarred by having been beaten by his mother's boyfriend with a rowboat
oar and getting locked in a closet. He hadn't gone to school. Pearson
said "we started working with him every day, talking to him, building
It makes baseball seem rather remote and not that
significant. Still, that Albie Pearson signature on my baseball glove
meant a lot to me. Pearson has lived the classic American life. I'll join him in saying "praise God!"