Back in time: The Stillwater Loggers in the suburban league

Loggers July 4, 1954 - from left to right: Jerry Ryan, Jim Ponath, Ed Gamm - Manager, Bud Grant, Jim Buege, Jack Junker. (Photo courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society)

Loggers July 4, 1954 – from left to right: Jerry Ryan, Jim Ponath, Ed Gamm – Manager, Bud Grant, Jim Buege, Jack Junker. (Photo courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society)

Baseball in the St. Croix Valley during the 1920s was, as the decade has been described, roaring. Many teams, such as the Deer Park Deers, were formed and barnstormed around the region. Teams that played in Stillwater included the Independents, Simonets, Huhners and others. Clubs from Oak Park, Bayport, Hudson and other nearby cities made games frequent and very popular. This addiction to the American Pastime continued into the next several decades.

In 1931, a group of men formed a club called the “Flying Dutchmen.” The name is misleading, for the core of the team was made up of Irishmen Howard O’Brien, Joe Finnegan and James Collins. This is the same core group of players that would enter the St. Paul Suburban League in 1933.

In 1933, the Suburban League grew to 10 teams with the addition of clubs from Hastings, Rosehill and Stillwater. The competition was tough in 1933, but once again St. Paul Park won the league title and competed in the state class A tournament.

Loggers 1948 opening day - from left to right: Maureen O'Brien Palmer, Stillwater Mayor Ed CArlson, Doug Ames, Joe O'Brien, Save Speich, Al Stolzman, Don Beutel, Bill Powers, Jim Buege, Ed Simonet, Al Ponath, Ron Weidell, Howard Rogness, LeRoy Christianson, Jay Ponath, Bob Sundin. (Photos courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society)

Loggers 1948 opening day – from left to right: Maureen O’Brien Palmer, Stillwater Mayor Ed CArlson, Doug Ames, Joe O’Brien, Save Speich, Al Stolzman, Don Beutel, Bill Powers, Jim Buege, Ed Simonet, Al Ponath, Ron Weidell, Howard Rogness, LeRoy Christianson, Jay Ponath, Bob Sundin. (Photos courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society)

Stillwater did not have a team in the league during three of the war years, but did return to the league in 1946 and captured the league’s title. Stillwater was 14-4, and it was LeRoy Christianson who led the club with a .388 batting average, and Matt Junker pitched the team to 12 wins while losing only three.

With Stillwater’s title in 1946, a contest was brought about to name Stillwater’s St. Paul Suburban League club. More than 500 names were submitted, but the name that was chosen for the 1947 club was the “Loggers.” The judges who chose the name liked it for its brevity and its tie to Stillwater’s history. Eight people submitted that name, and they all received a $3.25 prize. The eight were: Boyd Kunzelman, Stan Larson, M.E. Hanley, Mrs. M.E. Hanley, George Kutz, Stella McGarry, Mrs. R.W. Swenberg and Tom Lammers.

Want to read more? Check out the Friday, June 27 edition of The Gazette, available at our office, 1931 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater. To learn even more about the Loggers see the bonus “Back in Time” column coming in the Wednesday, July 2 edition of the Gazette. Brent Peterson is the executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.

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