Baseball and the Mall of America

(Bloomington, Minnesota) – On a recent visit to a massive shopping mall in the Minneapolis, Minnesota suburbs, I stumbled upon a marker where home plate was located for Metropolitan Stadium. The Met was torn down in 1985 and in its place is the iconic Mall of America along with its indoor theme park.  As I stood amid the indoor roller coasters, bumper cars and log rides, I stopped and listened to the memories of the history that was created here from 1956 through 1981.

The home plate marker in Mall of America

I stood in the right-handed batter’s box, the exact same spot Hall-of-Famer Harmon Killebrew stood for the 246 homeruns he hit here. His 573rd and final homerun originated here when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals in 1975, a 405-foot shot to left center off Twin pitcher Eddie Bane.

Hall-of-Famer Harmon Killebrew hits a homerun at The Met on October 1, 1969

Just ten years earlier in the same spot, Bob Allison struck against Sandy Koufax that clinched the Dodgers 1965 World Series title. The pitching mound where Koufax delivered the final pitch is now home to Nickelodeon’s Reptarmobile.  I watched the kids laughing and enjoying the ride and completely oblivious to the baseball history they were right on top of.

Also in 1965, the All-Star Game was at The Met, and Hall-of-Famers Willie Mays, Joe Torre, Willie Stargell and Killebrew all touched home after hitting round trippers.

Henry Aaron hit two from here in 1975, one against Ray Corbin and another against Tom Johnson (his 744th in 1975). Only two stadiums can brag they were home to career homerun #744, The Met and San Francisco’s AT&T Park for Barry Bonds.

The end came on September 30, 1981, when Roy Smalley hit an infield fly that Kansas City Royal shortstop UL Washington caught for the final out (Washington undoubtedly had a toothpick in his mouth).

Opening Day 1982, while the Twins opened their new domed stadium, the Save the Met group play pickup in the shadows of the Stadium

Several years went by as the stadium sat vacant before demolition won out. Today, the Mall of America generates 40 million annual visitors, many of which are young kids come for an exciting playground experience. They are completely unaware of the men who once roamed the same space and made it their Major League playground.

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