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An All-Star Game triple play

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton George Toops displays his rare trifecta: His tickets from the three Major League Baseball All-Star Games hosted by the Minnesota Twins — $4 at Met Stadium in 1965, $30 at the Metrodome in ’85 and $275 for Tuesday’s game at Target Field.

NEW LONDON —  To use the baseball vernacular, George Toops completed a remarkable triple play on Tuesday.

He attended the American League’s 5-3 win over the National League Tuesday at Target Field. He was also at the Metrodome in 1985 when the Senior Circuit won 6-1, the loss going to starter and St. Paul native Jack Morris, then of the Detroit Tigers.

In 1965, his dad took him to the game — so this is not an unassisted triple play. George was 12. A reserve seat not far behind the third base dugout cost $4.

George can recite the flow of the game, in those days still played in the afternoon: Willie Mays leads off with a homer; Joe Torre follows with a two-run shot and Willie Stargell plugs in another two-run dinger in the second for a 5-0 lead for the NL.

After flailing away at Juan Marchial, the Junior Circuit was all over Jim Mahoney in the fifth; Harmon Killebrew’s two-run round-tripper tying the game 5-5. At that point, NL manager Gene Mauch unleashed Don Drysdale, winning pitcher Sandy Koufax, Turk Ferrell and Bob Gibson, and the American League bats fell silent. The NL won 6-5.

In 1985, George failed to win a chance to buy tickets in the lottery but heard on the news Sunday night that some 1,600 tickets had been returned by visiting teams and would go sale 8 a.m. Monday morning.

 As quickly as he could assemble a lawn chair, sleeping bag and pillow, he was out the door and headed for Minneapolis. By the time he reached Chicago Avenue and staked out his territory on the sidewalk outside the Metrodome, he was 50th in line and within easy reach of buying the maximum two tickets. Reversing their roles 20 years later, George took his dad. They saw Pete Rose appear in both games.

Thirty years later, George, Sr., 91, stayed home in Park Rapids and watched the game on TV.

This year, George, Jr., played it safe. He and a son Casey bought partial season tickets which qualified them to also purchase a pair of All-Star week ducats. With a bit of luck, George also got picked in the lottery and got a third ticket allowing another son, Skip, to attend. 

George, a retired school information tech director and coach, bought the entire All-Star package. How much you ask? $55 for Sunday’s Futures and Celebrity Softball games, $255 for the Home Run Derby on Monday and just a bit more, $275, for Tuesday’s finale — in all, with processing fees, about $655 per three-day set.

Through a combination of chance encounters on Monday, Toops ended up the subject of a KARE 11 TV pregame piece with reporter Dave Berggren. George replayed it for me at the Toops home north of downtown New London. Toops’ Minnesota All-Star sweep was considered unique enough that Cathy Wurzer highlighted it the next day on MPR’s Morning Edition.

In manner, George and Kim Toops pulled off another “triple play” 33 years ago with the birth of triplets Micki, Brady and Casey.

Brady played four years at Arkansas and then three years of pro ball in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization. Skip teaches and coaches the Spuds’ wrestling at Moorhead. Brady, who performed on the Fringe Stage on Thursday at Sonshine, lives in Nashville, as does Casey. Daughter Micki teaches in Waconia and Wendy is Director of Children’s Education at Faith Lutheran in Hutchinson.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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