On this date in 1920, baseball was the hot topic in Bismarck. The city’s semi-pro baseball team was gearing up for action after their "championship team" had been disbanded in 1917 due to World War I. Now back together and on solid financial grounds, the team wanted to garner interest to keep the team playing.
The team began playing on the Capitol grounds Saturday afternoons. And after the first game against Wilton, many residents of Bismarck were happy with the look of their team. According to the Bismarck Tribune, "We've the makings of a nifty team. With a patched-up line-up and the newly arrived players still a little stiff, the team performed nicely against Wilton. Strengthened in a few places, the club will be able to equal the performance of the championship team of three years ago …"
The game had started off well – but it apparently didn’t have a very satisfying end. In the seventh inning, the Wilton team looked like they were winning, and then the Bismarck team scored three times. But in the ninth, Wilton was two runs behind when an argument over a foul ball effectively ended the game.
The Tribune reported, "The finish wasn't much. In fact, the game wasn't finished. And there may be some Wilton and Bismarck men still arguing out in capital ball park, for all we know. This writer didn’t have the night to spare waiting to see. The end was like an old-fashioned political meeting or a card party where a pretty, little handkerchief is offered as a prize."
Common to the times, a baseball fever allowed the team to continue – a resumption of America’s pastime in the wake of the war. The following year, a new ball park would be built. In 1949, lights were added. 2014 brought a multi-million dollar renovation. Today the park is home to the Bismarck Larks of 20-team Northwoods League, which features some of the best collegiate players from North America and beyond.
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
Bismarck Tribune, Tuesday, June 22, 1920, p3
Bismarck Tribune, Monday, June 21, 1920, p3
Bismarck Tribune, June 19, 1920, p3
Bismarck Tribune, August 16, 1920, p6