Friday, August 24, 2012

Finding two of the Target Field spruces

Two of the Target Field black spruce
I mentioned earlier in the week that I was headed to Itasca State Park for a few days.

I was deliberately vague on the subject in that post, but to put this post in context: My brothers and I spent every summer there while we were growing up. My father, the late Ben Thoma, was park naturalist from 1959 to 2004, when his health failed to the point that he had to abandon the position. My father died last October; this week marked my mother's first return to Itasca since 2004.

One of my personal goals was to hit the swimming beach, a favorite spot of my youth, one more time. This I did on Thursday afternoon, and in the process found two of the transplanted Target Field spruce trees.

This sign stands near the two spruce trees behind the
changing rooms at Itasca State Park.
You probably know the story: In 2010, the first year of Target Field, there were 14 spruce trees behind the centerfield fence and in front of the batters eye. This arrangement drew complaints from some of the hitters, and the trees were removed before the 2011 season. Ten of the 14 went to seven different state parks; Itasca, it turns out, got two of them.

It may be serendipity, or possibly somebody at the park remembered this (although I can't imagine who or how), but those trees stand now in a clearing where we locals used to play workup decades ago. Intentional or not, the trees are in a place that has a (very) slight baseball connection, and a stronger connection to this fan/blogger.

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