June 1, 1903: First professional baseball game at Duluth’s Athletic Park

On this day in Duluth in 1903, Duluth’s brand new Athletic Park hosted its first professional baseball game. Located immediately west of the Duluth, Missabe and Northern Railway’s ore docks, the wooden athletic facility with seating for 3,000 was hastily built the previous month. According to Twin Ports baseball historian Anthony Bush, the Duluth Cardinals “faced defending league champion Winnipeg Maroons in their home opener on June 1. Both teams stayed at the St. James Hotel and paraded along Superior Street to the ball park, led by Duluth Mayor Trevanion W. Hugo who spoke to the crowd of 1,500 before the game. While Duluth rallied from a 2–9 deficit and out-hit Winnipeg 19–11, the home team lost 10–11. The raw conditions of the field at Athletic Park were blamed for the game’s 12 errors.” Duluth got its first home win on June 3, in the final match of its three-game series against Winnipeg. The next year the Duluth team became the White Sox. Athletic Park served Duluth until 1940, when it was replaced by Duluth Municipal Stadium, later renamed Wade Stadium. It was the home field of the NFL’s legendary Duluth teams, Kelly-Duluth Hardware and the Duluth Eskimos—even though the Eskimos were a dedicated traveling team and only played in Duluth twice. Read more about Athletic Park here and about the Duluth Eskimos here.

This photo, made in 1940 by L. Perry Gallagher, Jr., shows Athletic Park still standing left of the newly constructed All Sports Stadium. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)

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