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Balls, Bats and Bases: St. Paul Saints Style


John Clinger

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Camargo “Catches” Williams in Season-Ender

2023 Season: Game 148 Recap – Sept. 24

By CAP’N JOHN CLINGER

Jair Camargo laughed when I asked him about fellow Saints catcher Chris Williams’ special request of him last Wednesday night.

“Just doubles and triples for the rest of the week,” so that Williams could keep the team’s triple-A season home run record of 21 that he had just set. Williams had just passed Brent Rooker for the most 4-baggers in St. Paul’s three-year affiliation with the Minnesota Twins.

“I told Chris today that my family was here and they wanted me to get another one,” Camargo said. “So I told Chris I’ll talk to Toby (manager Toby Gardenhire) about getting you about another at-bat.”

But there will not be another at-bat for anybody this year, as the Saints’ season ended with a 3-2 loss to the Toledo MudHens yesterday (Sunday). After Camargo’s 2-run blast in the 5th inning, he and Williams share the record of 21 home runs until at least next year – when both hope they won’t get another chance, as a result of making it to the big leagues.

As Twins injury rehabber Byron Buxton’s potential game-tying home run settled in the leftfielder’s glove at the fence for the final out of the season, the Saints capped a season in which they finished second in both halves of the International League’s West division (43-31, 41-33), and third overall in the IL (84-64) – 5½ games behind Norfolk of the Baltimore Orioles organization.

The kingpins of Major League Baseball really messed this season up by deciding there would be a two-team playoff in the International League, despite there being 20 teams in the league. (Imagine a major league season before the playoffs system began. Even if there were only four teams playing on this year, the Saints would have been one of them.

So the 2023 Saints season is in the books. Humans like the 6,003 (“announced” attendance) on hand yesterday under 66-degree, partly-cloudy skies after Saturday night’s rainout looked like they had a lot of fun watching the local lads perform this year while taking in the 30th year of independent, then minor league ball in St. Paul. (Be sure to watch the just-released Netflix documentary, “Saint of Second Chances.)

I am grateful to have renewed my sportswriting chops after a 42-year hiatus chasing family and career interests. Thanks to Sean Aaronsen for the press pass and great window seat. I will continue posting occasionally on gzrnetwork.com (you can also look up “Balls, Bats and Bases: St. Paul Saints Style”). I’m not sophisticated enough to have set up a feedback option on my blog, but you can email me at johnclinger@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading.

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