1953 Legion team played in state on coach's wedding day

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 8/12/97.

It appears the 1997 American Legion baseball team is not the first team to advance to the state tournament. The only other team to advance to state action was in 1953, 44 years ago. The team was coached by Jim Loomis who had an eventful tournament. The day is also Jim and Betty Loomisí anniversary.

When the couple set their wedding date six months earlier, little did they know that Jimís Junior Legion team would advance to the state tournament.

Members of that 1953 Legion team were Jack Hoppe, Ron Lieser, Marcus Brottem, Chuck Fahlberg, Don Spaulding, Lawrence Schmidt, Don Schmidt, Bill Drimel, Butch Ellingboe and Harold Stang.

The team won the District 6 title by defeating St. Cloud 5-0 and Bemidji 14-2.

As the state tournament day approached, it was worked out that Clint Hoiseth take the team to the Twin Cities for their first game on Friday. However, that game was rained out. ďInstead of playing baseball, the team went to a show,Ē Hoiseth said.

Jim and Bettyís wedding was set for Saturday at 3 p.m. in Norcross, Minn., and the team was scheduled to play ball at 7 p.m. in Lexington Park in St. Paul.

Phil Young, local baker at the time, stepped forward with a solution. He would be waiting in a field near the church with his Cessna 170 airplane and following the reception, whisk the newlyweds to St. Paul for the baseball game.

Clint Hoiseth would be waiting for them at airport to drive the newlyweds to the baseball game. They arrived at the game in the fourth inning, and it was upon Jimís arrival that Paynesville showed their appreciation by scoring two runs to take a 2 to 1 lead over the Grain Exchange, according to a 1953 newspaper article. Loomis said the team lost the game 3 to 2 in extra innings to the Grain Exchange.

According to the newspaper article, the Paynesville team won the sportsmanship trophy at the state tournament. The seven judges cast a unanimous vote for Paynesville.

Hoiseth said he broke a few speed laws getting Loomis to the ballpark from the airport. ďThe umpires said not to worry, because many of them were police officers and would see he got a police escort if he did,Ē he recalls.

ďThe fact that Jim and Betty flew from their wedding to the ballpark was the talk of all the fans at the state tournament,Ē Hoiseth said.

Janet Hoiseth sang at the wedding and said it was quite an exciting event for everyone at the wedding. ďIn those days, it was a rarity for someone to leave via airplane from their wedding reception,Ē she said.

Rich and Alma Hoppe drove the Loomis car from Norcross to the baseball game. Following the tournament, Jim and Betty headed to Chicago for their honeymoon where they took in six baseball games, a football game and horse race.

ďIn thinking back, I donít think I would do that today,Ē she said of her wedding day.

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