Memorial Park in Dundas, home of the Dundas Dukes, is admittedly one of my favorite baseball parks in the world (let alone MN). While it’s, in many ways, a much simpler structure than many of the other great town ball parks in MN, with its low-lying, inelegant grandstand and cyclone fencing, there’s a sort of Rockwellian, small town magic in Dundas that can’t be purchased at any ticket booth.
I’d visited Memorial Park before, and had shown Marty the empty field while we were driving between Lonsdale and Northfield during our Independence Day stray, and he was immediately taken with it, insisting it be bumped to the top of our priority list. When he called to say he’d gotten a rare Friday night off, and that Dundas was playing rival Northfield and holding a “take your pet to the game” event, there was no way we were staying home.
Arriving in town a little early, we took the dogs for a short adventure in the Mill Park area across the Cannon River from the field, where ruins of the Archibald Mill sit on the river’s bank, and a little stream trickles peacefully from a culvert into the river. We enjoyed a couple of refreshments while Skeeter splashed around in the water and Maybelle searched in vain for chipmunks to slay.
Soon it was game time, and our little collective scrambled back across the footbridge for the first pitch. It was a beautiful night in southern Minnesota, and a healthy contingent of fans (and their pets) flooded into the park, decked out in both Dundas orange and neighboring Northfield blue. Maybelle introduced herself to a much larger (and more docile) dog, also named Maybelle, by trying to tear her perceived rival’s lips off her face. Big Maybelle was thankfully permissive of my dog’s rudeness. I’m assuming she could hardly find herself angered by a 9 lb. dog dressed as a cubby bear.
Dundas features one of the most impressive merchandise booths in the state, selling everything from Dukes caps, to t-shirts, to can koozies, and the team’s fans come well adorned in their official gear. A typical Dukes home game features so many folks donning orange attire that it could be confused for a deer hunting opener. Since my last visit, the Dukes had made some modifications to the grandstand area, removing a section of simple wooden risers from behind home plate, and replacing them with handsome (not surprisingly orange) stadium seating, a fine addition to the park. We spent the early innings of the game in the metal bleacher along the first baseline, where the Dukes have a very nice picnic table pavilion area behind the dugout, with great views of the action.
On an uncloudy day in mid-summer, the sunsets of rural Minnesota are routinely breathtaking, and July 29, 2016 was most certainly one of those days. Watching a baseball game in a beautiful park, beneath a gorgeous sunset, is among of the great privileges of human existence.
One of the best things about watching baseball in a fine ballpark, is that the game looks equally enchanting under the mid-day sun, at dusk, and under the lights.
Dundas, Minnesota, population 1,367 has the audacity to call itself “The Town of Baseball,” and one can hardly argue. With a history stretching back to at least 1890, a fantastically devoted fan base, and a ballpark that transforms a child’s game into a work of art, they’ve more than earned the title.
If you were wondering, the Dukes put down the Knights 7-2 with a 5-run rally in the 8th, and Maybelle won first prize in the pet costume contest—a free night of boarding at an area kennel. We traded it to a pug from Northfield for a bag of treats. Everyone’s a winner in Dundas.
Full photo gallery here.