Suicide Squeeze

Every few minutes a line forms at the Minneapolis Public Library's sociology, religion, and sports reference desk, and every time Ted Hathaway skillfully produces a book to address even the most outlandish question. But when asked to envision a city without professional sports, he doesn't pause to look up the answer. "No big change," he blurts out, hastily adding that he's not just a fan, but a member of the American Society for Baseball Research. "It's not the same as it was 20 or 40 years ago. There are better places to spend our money. Most of the people who'll make all of the money off this [new stadium] don't even live in the state." His stare darkens as he assures me once again of his love for the game. "I am tired," he says, "of this kind of blackmail." (Katharine Kelly)

RAY CRUMP
   curator

You'd be hard pressed to find anybody who has had a more symbiotic and longstanding relationship with the Minnesota Twins and professional sports in the Twin Cities than Ray Crump. Crump started working as a batboy at Griffith Stadium in Washington when he was 10, and was the batboy for the visiting Yankees on April 16, 1953, when Mickey Mantle hit a 565-foot home run, the longest recorded in major-league history. When Calvin Griffith brought the Twins to Minnesota in 1961, Crump came along as the equipment manager, a position he held until 1984. Since 1986, Crump and his souvenir shop/oddball museum have been hunkered down in the shadow of the Dome, and he has experienced the good times and the bad of the local sports scene as keenly as anyone.

"As it is, I can't give away Twins merchandise," he scoffs. "This last summer was almost as bad as the strike years; we'd get people milling around in here before Twins games buying Vikings stuff. It's ridiculous. Manufacturers don't even want to make Twins stuff, and who can blame 'em? Sure, on a personal level it's important to me that they keep baseball here, but the way things are going I don't even know if I'm gonna be in business if and when they get a new stadium built anyway.

"I don't feel they even need a new stadium. It's been more than proven that if you put a winner on the field here, they'll pack the Dome. The bottom line is that Pohlad is responsible for selling the product, and he hasn't done anything.

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