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Article: For Saints Fans, Documentary Rings True

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#1 kevinluckow

kevinluckow

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 07:26 AM

Monday May 7th featured sunshine and a high temperature of 85 degrees, a perfect night for baseball. The St. Paul Saints were in action, not on the field but on the movie screen. Team ownership, management staff, coaches and select fans and friends gathered at the Showplace Icon Theater in St. Louis Park for a viewing of For the Fun of the Game. Produced by Saints Director of Digital Media and Video Production, Jordan Lynn, it aired for the first time as part of the "Insider Series" for the Twin Cities Film Fest.For the Fun of the Game began with testimonials from players and staff that have called either Midway Stadium or CHS Field home at some point in their careers. That included people that have been around since Day 1 (Mike Veeck, Marv Goldklang, Tom Whaley, Annie Huidekoper, Dave Wright), players from the inaugural team in 1993 (Leon Durham, Kevin Millar), current players (Brandon Kintzler, Tony Thomas, Mark Hamburger), staff (Derek Sharrer, Chris Schwab, Sierra Bailey) and play-by-play announcers from the beginning (Anthony LaPanta did Saints games for a local cable access station on tape delay in 1993) to now (Sean Aronson).

After the testimonials, the documentary turned back the clock to the Saints beginnings in the fall of 1992. Wright and Huidekoper tell stories of the bare bones operation that the Saints were in the early days. I thought Lynn did an excellent job of tying in video from the 1993 season and as a viewer I found myself being brought back to 1993, remembering where I was at that time. Photos of current management from 1993 drive home the point on how much times have changed.

The next segment focused on how the St. Paul became the place to be for players that wanted to get back to the majors such as Jack Morris and Darryl Strawberry, along with groundbreaking players such as Ila Borders and J.D. Drew. It drew me back to 1996 during those magical months that Morris and Strawberry put on a show, and the night when Drew made his professional debut hitting two home runs versus Fargo in front of a packed house in 1997.

The next part of the movie legitimized the film as a documentary and not a fluff piece. Focusing on the 1998-2002 seasons, the Saints and General Manager Bill Fanning were perpetuating a long sellout streak, using that as a point of marketing. Hardcore fans knew better. The aluminum bleachers on Energy Park Drive were telling a different story and images from that era drove the point home.

Lynn then steered the documentary into the beginning of the Derek Sharrer era. Sharrer told how detrimental the mythical sellout streak was. Fans were not coming out as they were under the impression that tickets were never available. The Sharrer era coincided with the beginning of the George Tsamis era, and footage of the Saints 2004 Northern League Championship season pumped up the mood of the documentary.

Lynn showed how the 2009-2010 seasons were a tough time for the Saints due to 2 major events: the collapse of the economy and the opening of Target Field. As a fan you tend to forget the lean years, but Lynn did a great job with stories from Whaley, Sharrer and Schwab of how difficult the era was for the ballclub and how it was time for a new ballpark.

The last part then detailed the battle to get funding for CHS Field, its construction, and eventual acceptance by the Lowertown community culminating in its opening in 2015. After the conclusion of the film, Lynn, Sharrer, Veeck and Whaley took questions from the audience with a brief reception afterwards.

I was very impressed. As I told many people afterwards, if I sat down and wrote a detailed history of the St. Paul Saints, it would sound much like the For the Fun of the Game. For the fan in me that has been around since 1993, I felt like the movie was a video yearbook of my last quarter of the century following the St. Paul Saints. It reminded me of the last episode of The Office when the staff was so impressed with how good the film makers were with capturing the key moments of their lives. Lynn, during the Q&A session, said that this was a project he came up with in 2016. In a span of one year, he produced a gem. For anyone that's a Saints fan, either from the start in 1993 or joined in at some point of the team's existence, this will be a very informative and enjoyable documentary.

Later this summer there will be a public viewing of For the Fun of the Game at CHS Field. I would highly recommend seeing it.

 

You can find more on the Saints by Kevin Luckow at his blog, the 10th Inning Stretch.

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#2 Sarah

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 09:31 AM

I really wanted to attend this but I was out of town (on vacation so can't complain too much). Thanks for the recap, look forward to reading your coverage of the Saints this season. Can't wait to go to CHS Field again soon! 


#3 kevinluckow

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Posted 28 May 2018 - 08:15 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Sarah. I would recommend going to 10thinningstretch.blogspot.com for regular coverage of the Saints throughout the 2018 season.