Back in 1970 Princeton American Legion baseball coach Howard “Swede” Solhiem got the bright idea to not only get a new baseball field built, but to have an invitational tournament here that summer. The tournament was a smashing success, Edina beating Little Falls 1-0 for the title on a home run by a guy who eventually made it to the major leagues as a pitcher.
Others who made it to major leagues have played here, eventual minor leaguers have played here, many who became college stars have played here, and thousands of high school, Legion and town team players have played at Solheim Veterans Field in the intervening 48 years, years that have included a rich, rich history of Princeton baseball.
Yours truly was nominated by Solheim back in 1970 to be the scorekeeper/announcer for that first tournament and I’ve been involved in some way ever since. This past weekend, as Hutchinson beat Marshall for the title and Princeton finished a respectable third, I spent a good share of three days and two nights at the field.
Attendance by locals has dwindled greatly since 1970 but it’s still a great tournament, one praised by those who come here every year from all over Minnesota, and even other states. In two years, unbelievably, we’ll have the 50th such tournament and plans are already underway for a grand celebration, including getting back as many players as possible who have played on that wonderful field for a half century.
So, using my presence at the field for many, many hours this past weekend as an excuse, there was no time to complete a blog that I had planned. We hope to get back to that next week. Meanwhile, start spreading the word among your baseball friends and neighbors that there will be a grand celebration at the field in July of 2019 during the 50th annual Legion tournament.
NEWS EVENTS FROM IN AND AROUND THE PRINCETON AREA IN 1989
There was about $4 million in construction in Princeton in 1988, about $275,000 more than the previous year. The number of building permits was up about 50 percent.
A survey taken at Princeton High School found that about two-thirds of high school seniors were holding down some kind of job, 30 percent working 20 or more hours a week.
Supt. Waldo Larson recommended to the school board that it cut $400,000 from the district budget. Part of the problem was that there were about 60 fewer students than projected, thus less state aid. A couple weeks later, in February, the board voted to cut $600,000 from the budget for the 1989-90 school year. In March the board then decided to cut $557,000, adding some cuts to the $516,000 recommended by the superintendent. Included were eight classroom teachers. The final figure turned out to be $531,700.
Word came that by the fall there might be a signal light on Highway 169 at the intersection in Zimmerman, as well as a new one at the Jackson Avenue intersection with Highway 169 in Elk River.
After discussions for many years, the school board decided in April to try activity buses for the next school year. Elk River, Cambridge, Milaca, Foley and Sauk Rapids already had such buses to take students home from after-school activities.
A dead baby was found in a cardboard box in Santiago Township west of Princeton.
High school principal John Tefer was named the state’s top high school administrator by the Minnesota State School Counselors Association, Tefer was in his second year at Princeton.
Gary Anderson, a 20-year member of the Princeton School Board, was not re-elected in May. Incumbent Jean Hoffman and Hank Findell, a first-time candidate, were the two elected.
Approval was given to the PHS Class of 1989 having an outdoor graduation.
A suspect was arrested after a robbery at the Princeton State Bank in Pease.
Howard “Swede” Solheim, a long-time coach and teacher at Princeton High School, was the driving force behind a baseball field being built in 1970, mainly by the local American Legion, that was named Veterans Field. In July the field was renamed H.M. (Swede) Solheim Veterans Field. The ceremony took place on a Sturday night during the annual Legion invitational baseball tournament. (The 48th version of that tournament, began by Solheim, was held July 14, 15 and 16, 2017 (this past weekend).
A large-scale drug bust in the Princeton-Milaca area in August included at least 50 felony charges against 30 people.
Greyhound Lines announced it would end bus service to Princeton in September, the company citing low ridership.
A 3:30 a.m. fire at the Buffalo House in Zimmerman heavily damaged the well-known restaurant in August. There had been a fire there in April 1976 that did about $130,000 ini damage. There were immediately questions about the cause of the fire and later charges were filed.
School enrollment of 2,672 on the first day of school in Princeton was about 40 more students than projected. Figures sent to the state on Oct. 1, showed 2,702, 74 more than projected.
A tradition that had been absent for about 10 years was revived when a parade was held in downtown Princeton before the Homecoming football game.
A survey taken the previous spring of 6th-, 9th- and 12th-graders in Princeton schools showed local students’ use of tobacco and alcohol was higher than the average in Minnesota, said a report in December.
After being turned down the previous year, John Gustafson of Gusto’s, a liquor lounge in the city, requested a referendum on Sunday liquor. A petition included 400 signatures.
July 25, 1957 – Pitcher Jim Rajala bested pitcher Chuck Skarohlid as the Athletics beat the Braves for the local peewee baseball title . . . Princeton lost 4-1 to Hinckley in Legion baseball playoffs, ending the season. Earl Stottler had two hits.
July 26, 1962 – Tom Peterson shot a 32 to break the course record at Rum River Golf Club . . . The Princeton peewee baseball team went 9-0 to win the league title, and then won the playoffs as Dennis Minks was the winning pitcher in both games on one day.
July 26, 1967 – Princeton lost to Palmer in town ball, 6-4, as Ken Ott and Tom Enger each had two hits . . . Santiago won the Independent Central League (Princeton’s league) for the second year in a row as Luther Dorr shut out Clear Lake 13-0.
Aug. 2, 1972 – The Princeton midget baseball team (9th and 10th graders) advanced to the state tournament . . . The Legion team lost to Pine City in the North End League finals. The District 10 tournament (with only 4 teams, not 16 as it was for many years) was to be held in Princeton in the third year of the new ballpark.
July 28, 1977 – Mark Bornholdt and Steve Sanborn played 110 holes in 13 hours at Rum River Golf Club, beating the previous record by 10 holes. They averaged 40.3 and 41.5 strokes per 9 holes . . . Kevin VanHooser (5-0) beat Forest Lake 5-2 as the town team moved into a tie for first place in the Eastern Minny . . . Arnie Dahle won the senior men’s golf title with a 78.
July 29, 1982 – Ron Gustafson, with a 146, won the men’s golf title at Rum River Golf Club . . . Doug Patnode was 5 for 5 with two homers as the town team beat St. Francis 11-8. John Gloege got the win and Luther Dorr homered in a 6-5 over the Bethel College summer team . .. Princeton beat Mora 19-1 in the opening Legion playoff game as Jim Belfiori drove in four runs and Brian Dorr three.
July 30, 1987 – Greg Remus (75) and Judy Bornholdt (86) won junior titles at Rum River Golf Club . . . Mike Sternquist, 8-0 for the season, beat St. Francis 10-1 in the first Legion playoff game. Todd Seifert drove in four runs and Chris Klinighagen two.
July 30, 1992 – Ron Jones won the Wissota Modified feature at Princeton Speedway and earned a trip to the Wissota 100 competition in Cedar Lake, Wis., set for September . . . Jamie Cox struck out 34 in two wins and hit a homer as the Princeton Legion team moved into District 10 playoffs.
July 31, 1997 – Sheless Davis beat Jan Rosen on the final hole for the women’s title at Princeton Golf Club. Steve Sanborn won his second straight men’s title with an eight-stroke margin . . . Jason Miller, Brian Dorr and Chad Campbell hit back-to-back-to-back homers in a 13-2 win over Pine City. Dorr drove in 5 runs, Miller and Campbell 3 each.
July 25, 2002 – The Princeton Panthers (15-4 in league, 18-6 overall) won their third straight division title in the Eastern Minny, Joe Nelson beating Pine City 9-3 and Paul Deglmann defeating Quamba 5-0 . . . Luke Bakken got the win as Princeton (1-2 for the tourney) beat Maple Grove 5-3 in the local Legion tournament.
July 26, 2007 – The Legion team 10-11 for the season, lost all three games in the local tournament . . . The Princeton team of lady golfers placed second at the Five Star Tournament held in North Branch. Helen Sanborn had the team’s low score of 91. Others on the team were Marianne Ossell, Judy Ziegler, Kelly Culligan, Donna Cook, Michelle Hagen,Donna Brooks and Andrea Sternquist.
July 26, 2012 – The Princeton Panthers won five in a row to finish 14-4 in the Eastern Minny and tied Hinckley for the league title. Josh Ludwig, with Jordan Neubauer driving in the winning run in the 10th inning, beat Hinckley 4-3 in Princeton, and Joe Swanson pitched a complete game in a 6-2 win over Quamba. Jesse Zimmer had two doubles.