Mike Veeck started the St. Paul Saints with a three-word mission. “Fun is Good.” And ironically, he summed up the St. Paul Saints Sale to Diamond Baseball Holdings in three words.
“Everything I had.”
Here’s context. Minneapolis sportswriter John Shipley was interviewing Mike Veeck about the St. Paul Saints sale. He asked the team president a question about how much he invested in the team. Th John may have been thinking financially. However, he seemed quite satisfied with the answer straight from the heart. It was as simply and succinctly as Mike Veeck could be in the moment.
“Everything I had.”
Seemingly, it was one of many examples of a man having perspective while keeping emotions in check during media interviews today about the St. Paul Saints sale. Rightfully, the story rocked the Twin Cities media and community. Meanwhile, all of Minor League Baseball (MILB) was taking notice of the news as well.
The St. Paul Saints Sale was 30 Years in the Making.
It began in 1992 as the dream of a partnership consisting of baseball blue bloods, and one of the biggest names in Hollywood.
The Goldklang Group consisted of Marv Goldklang, a minority owner of the New York Yankees. Mike Veeck, former Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball executive and maverick. Van Schley, successful minor league owner, and actor Bill Murray.
The goal of The Goldklang Group was bringing independent professional baseball back to life, through the Northern League. The idea of a St. Paul Saints sale being big news 30 years into the future was about as likely as life on Mars.
Most viewed this entrepreneurial dream as a suicide mission. The few optimists saw it as at nightmare at best. The truth is there plenty of good reasons to doubt the Saints’ survival let alone success.
The Major League Baseball Minnesota Twins were neighbors located just 7 miles away. Their popularity was sky high in the Twin Cities having just won their second recent World Series Championship in 1991.
Meanwhile, the Saints had no stars for good reason. But in particular, one major reason. They had no players on their roster starting a team from scratch. And their home field was at Midway Stadium, a ballpark midway between a concrete slab, and an old, rundown stadium with freight trains running just 20 feet behind the outfield wall.
If starting this business sounded tough, it was. If it sounded scary, it was that, too.
Fun Is Good: The Foundation for the Success
In creating the team’s marketing plan, Mike Veeck used Fun Is Good as the first words and the most important. They couldn’t have the best baseball in the Twin Cities. But they could have the most Fun. And they certainly did.
A pig delivering the game balls to the umpire at home plate. Wacky promotions. Great food. And of course, cold beer.
The St. Paul Saints won the Northern League Championship that magical first year. And the magic continued for decades. So much so, the club eventually outgrew Midway Stadium, earning its way into the brand new, award-winning CHS Field nearly a quarter of a century later.
While you can apply the saying, “All good things must come to an end.” Despite the St. Paul Saints sale, the laughs will surely not come to an end. Yes, the memories are too many to count. And somehow, the inseparable bond between the Saints and St. Paul will last long beyond the 30 years of The Goldklang Group ownership.
Mike Veeck Always Knew the St. Paul Saints Would Be Sold
He just didn’t know when. Consciously, he accepted it. Perhaps even working toward embracing the idea. This was especially true in recently years following the passing of Libby and Mike Veeck’s daughter, Rebecca Veeck in 2019.
Mike never wanted to be the last guy at the party. And he passionately believes in stepping aside for the next generation of talent to get an opportunity to show their stuff.
Having a love affair with a ballclub and a community for over 30-years can make the end sweeter because of all the great memories and relationships created. On the other hand, it can also be harder for exactly those same reasons.
However, today is not the day for figuring out which is more true than the other. This is a moment to celebrate what was created by Mike Veeck and The Goldklang Group. Consequently, it is also the start of the St. Paul Saints era under Diamond Baseball Holdings, and their chance to show what they can do.