Lind: The story of a flashy Minnesota baseball player named Champ
In today's "Neighbors" column, a reader opens up about an all-around athlete who stood out.
It’s been mentioned here that one of the things we’ve had to give up during this coronavirus threat is baseball. But it’s still fun to call up memories of people who played it. People like Champ.
He’s the guy who was on the Watertown, Minn., team and who responded to that name, according to Richard Radde, Fargo, who wrote “Neighbors” about him.
Watertown is west of Minneapolis.
“His given name was Milo, but a fellow high school student once called him ‘Champ,’ and he responded to no other name ever after,” Richard writes.
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“Champ was an all-around athlete who would throw a baseball as high as it could go in the air, climb on a bicycle and run after it and catch it before it hit the ground.
“His favorite position was first base. One of his capers there was to catch a hard grounder, pretend to muff it, then crawl agonizingly on hands and knees and touch first base with the ball a half-second before the runner got there.
“He would also catch low pop flies behind his back and throw behind his back to a pitcher covering first base.
“The fans loved him. He was the most popular baseball player in the area.
“Everyone knew or heard of Champ. If you hated baseball, you could still love Champ.
“Sometimes he would wear a fedora hat, both batting and fielding,” Richard says. “If a pitch came inside while he was batting, he would tip it with his hat so the umpire could award him first base.
“Umpires finally made him remove the fedora.
“Champ appeared a number of times on a bowling show in Minneapolis. You better believe they called him Champ. They loved him and all his quips. He made their show.
“Champ, where are you when we sit through three-and-a-half-hour base-on-ball games?” Richard asks. “Please come to us, wherever you are, fedora hat and all!”
Well, hopefully, there’ll soon be more baseball games to which Champ and his fedora can come.
One more thing, neighbors.
Mention has been made here several times of when certain Fargo streets were paved.
Now Gary Granum, who has been a resident on 21st Street South since 1971, says one of them, 13th Avenue South, wasn’t paved west of 21st Street until the early 1970s; probably about 1973, he thinks.
Thanks for that information, Gary.
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If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.