SKIPPY FIELD: 50 YEARS OF HAPPY MEMORIES

Bob Reiss From the Re-Echo, Spring 2002

2002 is the fiftieth anniversary of Skippy Field and Little League in St. Louis Park. Thousands of kids have heard the familiar cry P-l-a-y B-a-l-l at Skippy Field since 1952. A lot of happy memories for the kids and also for mothers, dads and the families.

Little League was started in 1939 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In 1951, a group of men from St Louis Park, Hopkins, Edina and Minnetonka formed the first Little League in Minnesota. These four each agreed to field one team from their suburb. That year, all the games were played at a Hopkins playground.

For 1952, Elmer “Shorty” Dale was instrumental in arranging to lease the land for what is now called Skippy Field from the Village. He persuaded the Skippy Peanut Butter Company (which was then located in St. Louis Park) to fund the building of the ball field. The field was named for company and was completed for the 1952 season. By 1955, the St Louis Park Little League had expanded to eight teams.

Skippy Field and the other baseball fields in St Louis Park are currently owned and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of St. Louis Park but the operation of the league is completely run by volunteers. Every year hundreds of coaches and team managers eagerly agree to spend many summer nights and Saturdays at the ball field. Another important part of Little League are the team sponsors. Each team is sponsored by a local business or corporation who agreed to supply the uniforms and equipment for “their” team. Many companies have had teams that played at Skippy but two of these will also celebrate their fiftieth year: Miracle Mile and Citizens Bank have been continuous sponsors since 1952.

In 1959, a minor league diamond was added to Skippy Field. This diamond was dedicated and named for Shorty Dale for his contribution to St. Louis Park athletics. In later years, when the diamonds were repositioned, the plaque and the name seemed to have been lost.  As part of the anniversary celebration, it is planned to honor Shorty again for his contribution. Currently teams are being organized, schedules set and sponsors recruited for the St Louis Park Little League season. Once this work is done, there will be time to plan a celebration. It is hoped that this celebration will include Shorty Dale’s family, a reunion of all the kids and volunteers that played at Skippy and honor the sponsors. See you there.

Shorty Dale was a tireless advocate of sports in St Louis Park and particularly sports for kids. During the depression when there were no funds for any recreation, he organized Village teams. After WW II, he was active as Chairman of the Recreational Commission for the Village of St Louis Park and was a strong advocate of me new city charter. He believed that St. Louis Park needed a Park Board with taxing ability to provide adequate facilities for recreation. Shorty was instrumental in establishing the Little League and getting them a place to play. He managed Legion baseball, he coached and umpired, and was a member of the Northwest Umpires Association. He was also active in Midget football.