History of Baseball in Crookston


Crookston town team baseball has been in existence more often than not for more than 100 years with various names such as the Red Stockings, Colts, Crooks, Cubs, Red Sox, Growlers, Pirates, Blues and have been known as the Crookston Reds since 1973.  Throughout most of the town's history baseball has been amateur, although that had a different meaning 100 years ago, in that even amateur teams could pay pitchers and catchers.  Crookston had two official stints where they went professional 1902-1905 as the Crookston Colts/Crooks and 1933-1941 as the Crookston Pirates. In 2017, the 70th anniversary of the teams first known Minnesota Amateur Baseball State Tournament berth, the current Reds snapped a 17-year drought, going to the State Tournament for the first time since 1999.  The Reds play their home games at Jim Karn Field.  The late Jim Karn played for the Reds from 1968-2004 and was the manager from 1972-2004.  "Karnie" was a member of 23 of Crookston's 27 State Tournament teams and managed 17 of those teams.  At 61, Karn tossed back to back complete games winning 2-1 and losing 1-0. He was elected to the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. Karn's #10 is the only number retired in Crookston Baseball History.

History of Baseball in Crookston 

1878 - Crookston Red Stockings organized by Lawrence "Trinky" McLinden 

1879 - City of Crookston incorporated 

1878-1900 - Several names including "The Growlers 

1883 - Grand Forks wins two games in Crookston at the county fair, presumably against the Crookston team.

1891 - Crookston Base Ball Club, no team name, plays as an independent possibly professional team in the Midwest League

1902-1905 - Crookston Colts/Crooks - Northern League Class D - The field was located in Central Park - Rosters

1902 - May 22 - Crookston wins first Northern League game 16-8 over Fargo.  WP - Collet

1905 - George Capron a University of Minnesota football star plays professionally for Crookston Crooks under of assumed name of either George Kipp or Katt, along with several other teams.  When discovered in 1908 he left school after admitting to the National Commission he played professionally under those names.

1906 - First Crookston High School Games Played

1907 - First meeting between Crookston and the professional colored team, the St. Paul Gophers.  Gophers won 13-1, and it was reported after the game that Crookston had "a bad case of stage fright" and "some have not recovered yet."

1910 - St. Paul Gophers team defeats Crookston 2-1.  The next day Crookston ralled from down 2-0 to defeat the Gophers 11-3.  Crookston left-hander named Sisler got the win. During the second game Crookston fans were so disgruntled that the umpire retired after two innings and the Gophers Johnny Davis finished the game as the umpire.

1911 - July 11 -  Crookston Cubs Alfred Narveson homered and held the professional colored St. Paul Gophers scoreless for eight innings in a game that ended in a 1-1 tie

1912 - First Official Crookston Central High School Season

1913 - Crookston town team led by ace Stanley Duggan (Ohio State), went to Winnipeg in 1914 and was sold later that year to Cincinnati 

1920s - Crookston team name is the Red Sox

1928 - Northwest School of Agriculture students defeat alumni 6-0 in annual game 

1931 - Chester "Chet" Brewer plays for Crookston, played professional baseball around the world for 24 years and in 44 of 48 states at the time. Claimed to love Crookston best.  Coached a young Jackie Robinson.

1931 - May - "Chet" Brewer and John Donaldson pitch 12 inning complete games to tie.

1931 - July 19 or 30 - Kansas City Monarch 6 Crookston Red Sox 0 - John Donaldson founding member Monarchs returns with the Monarchs played outfield (Souce: Crookston Times) "Chet" Brewer gives up only six hits, but Crookston commits nine errors. (Source: Center for Negro League Baseball Research)

1932 - May 31 - Crookston Red Sox sweep Donaldson's All-Stars 10-3, 3-1.  John Donaldson (L) Game 2 8 innings 3 runs, 12 K (Source: Crookston Times & John Donaldson Historic Website)

1932 - Former Crookston player Chet Brewer leads Kansas City Monarchs to 7-0 and 8-0 victories over Crookston.

1933-1940 - Crookston Pirates - Northern League Class D - affliations Chicago White Sox ('36), St. Louis Cardinals ('37), Boston Red Sox ('38) - other teams Winnipeg Maroons, Grand Forks Chiefs, Fargo-Moorhead Twins, Duluth Dukes, Superior Blues, Eau Claire Bears and Wausau Lumberjacks - Rosters

1933 - Crookston baseball moves into a new home, Highland Park, with seating for several thousand. Highland Park was located in the general area of the tennis courts at the current Highland Park Complex

1934 - June 30 - Northwest School of Agricluture annual Alumni-Student game. Alumni win 11-5

1937 - Floyd Barn throws a perfect game for Crookston Central High School in 2-0 win over Thief River Falls. 

1939 - First Season for Crookston Cathedral High School

1941 - Crookston Pirates - Northern League Class C - dropped out with the start of World War II

~1945 - Crookston Pirates reform following World War II as an amateur baseball team, this is the direct beginning of the modern day Crookston Reds.

1947 - Crookston High School Region 8 Champions - Participant in First Minnesota High School League State Baseball Tournament

1947 - Crookston Pirates Amateur Baseball - Northern Minny League - NBC National Tournament Participant

1948 - Crookston Pirates Amateur Baseball - Northen Minny League - NBC National Tournament Participant

1950s - Crookston Pirates amateur team flounders

1960 - Crookston Central High School 4th at State Tournament

1961 - Crookston Pirates Amateur baseball reincarnated, present-day Crookston Reds

1967 - First known reference to a student baseball team on the college (UMC) campus as the University of Minnesota Technical Institute Trojans, coached by Wayne Little. Trojans scrimmaged and defeated Crookston Central High School Pirates 9-5

1970s - Crookston native Gary Royal plays in the New York Mets organization

1970-1974 - Crookston amateur baseball moves to the University of Minnesota Technical College (UMC) Lincoln field while Highland Park is torn down and replaced by the current park.

1972 - Crookston Pirates Class B 3rd Place

1973 - Crookston Pirates change their name to the Crookston Reds

1973 - Crookston Reds 3rd Place

1974 - Crookston Pirates name revived with a second amateur team

1975 - The Reds move into the second Highland Park (present day Jim Karn Field).  First game played at the Park by Crookston High School, including freshman Brent Stahlecker who would play 34 seasons with the Crookston Blues and Reds beginning in 1979.

1975 - Crookston Central State Tournament Participant - 6th place

1976 - Crookston Reds 3rd Place

1977 - New UMC baseball field annouced for south end of campus

1978 - Crookston Pirates Amateur Baseball team folds

1979 - Crookston again gets a second amateur team, the Crookston Blues

1982 - Crookston Blues disband 

1986 - Crookston Blues return for one season going 0-12.  The MBA expands to three classes A, B, C.  The Reds are assigned to Class B and remain there through 1987. 

1989 - Crookston Pirates HS State Tournament Participant

1992- Crookston Reds eliminated in Amateur Baseball State Quarterfinals

1995 - Crookston Pirates HS State Champions Class A defeats Brooklynn Center 4-3 in 10 innings. Finish season with a 22-5 record.

2000 - UMC Baseball joins the NSIC

~2005 - Highland Park renamed Jim Karn Field

2011  - Crookston native J.R. Krogstad signs with the Gulf Coast League Twins

(Sources: Crookston Times, UMC Library, John Donaldson Historic Website, Legendary Locals of Crookston, Center for Negro League Baseball Research, Baseball History Daily, Baseball Team Names: A Worldwide Dictionary, 1869-2011, Early Black Baseball in Minnesota, Baseballreference.com, Crookston Public Schools)

 Chester "Chet" Brewer, 1931

Before the start of the 1931 season, Chet Brewer and Johnny Vann (black catcher from Chicago) signed to play for the Crookston Red Sox. Crookston played an independent schedule in northern Minnesota. The Red Sox’s season began on May 24th and ended about the middle of August. Twelve box scores box scores and newspaper game accounts have been found for Chet pitching for Crookston. He pitched a complete game in each outing and had a record of 10-1-1. The two highlights of the season for Brewer’s Red Sox were a game pitched against the Colored House of David and a game versus his old team the Kansas City Monarchs. The Red Sox met the Colored House of David in late May at Highland Park in Crookston. Brewer faced off against the legendary Negro League pitcher John Donaldson of the Colored House of David. The two pitchers battled to a 12 inning 1-1 tie before the game was called. Crookston’s game with the Kansas City Monarchs was played on July 19th in Crookston. Brewer only gave up six hits to his former team mates, but the Red Sox committed nine errors in the game. The Kansas City Monarchs won the game 6-0. The town of Crookston was so happy with Brewer’s pitching performances that he was given the key to the city as a measure of their appreciation for his efforts. At the end of the season he was selected as the team’s Most Valuable Player and given a watch at the team’s sports banquet. When asked about his experience playing for a predominately all-white team, Brewer called his experience with Crookston as one of the most pleasurable experiences of his lifetime. Chet talked about how the whole town took him and his family in and treated them extremely well. He also shared that he was glad he was able to pitch so well and repay the team and town of Crookston for all their kindness.  (Brewer pitched 111 innings in twelve games giving up 31 runs, he was also 13 of 37 at the plate for a .351 average)

1932 - Chet returns to the Kansas City Monarchs

On July 21st the Monarchs traveled to Minnesota to play Brewer’s old team the Crookston Red Sox. Crookston was having an excellent season and had a 21-4 (.840) won-loss record when the Monarchs came to town. Chet started the game which was played at Highland Park and gave the crowd the same pitching performance they had seen the year before when he was playing for the Red Sox. Brewer pitched a 7-0 shutout of his former teammates. Chet only gave up one hit to the Crookston batters. The Monarchs returned to Crookston in early August for a rematch with the Red Sox. The result was the same as before. Chet Brewer pitched an 8-0 shutout of his former teammates. (Center for Negro League Baseball Research)


Crookston Pirates 1937

1973 Crookston Reds (3rd Place) - Front Row L to R - Jim Karn, Ryan Brantl, Tom Ogaard, Matt Baab (Batboy), Rodd Olson, Marshall Olson, Jeff Tiedeman

Back Row L to R - Lyle Swift (Draftee - Fertile), Ivan Fisher, Jerry Vandermay, Bob Miller, Gary Royal, Greg Conkins, Doc Baab, Kyle Pearson, Herb Hasz, Don Cavalier


1980 Crookston Blues, with draftee Jim Karn from the Crookston Reds

Author Tim Madigan - Back Rown,3rd from left.  Jim Karn - Back Row, 4th from left

 Jim Karn


                                                                                Aug. 29, 1992 - State Tournament vs. Green Isle in Jordan, MN

(Left) - Brent Stahlecker fileds a pick-off throw while Dom McConnell (2B) and Doug Johnson look on                                                   

(Right) - Craig Stahlecker pitches a complete game victory 3-2 over Green Isle in 10 innings. 



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