South Dakota Was Home to Some of Major League Baseball’s Biggest Names
Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. Don Larson, New York Yankee who pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Cy Young Award winner Bob Turley. American league All-Star shortstop Mark Belanger. Baseball great Lou Pinella.
What do they all have in common (other than being legendary Major League star's)?
They all called South Dakota home at one point in their professional career's.
The Aberdeen, South Dakota Pheasants. They were a minor league affiliate with the St. Louis Browns. Wait....the St. Louis who??
The Browns. Yes, there was a day when there were two teams in St. Louis. And while the Cardinals are a Major League mainstay and one of the most successful franchises in Major League history, the Browns...well, not so much. And when the crowds dwindled with every loss (and there were many!) and then dwindled some more, the Browns packed up and moved to...
Baltimore. That's right, the Baltimore Orioles were born out of the ashes of the St. Louis Browns. And they kept their minor league affiliate, the Aberdeen South Dakota Pheasants.
And the legendary names came to Aberdeen and played ball. Earl Weaver managed the club in 1959. Jim Palmer pitched for the Pheasants in 1964, the same year Belanger played shortstop in the Hub City. Before Don Larson pitched that historic World Series game, he spent the 1947 and 48 seasons in northeast South Dakota. In fact, Cal Ripken, Jr.'s Dad managed the squad from 1963 to 1966.
The original Pheasants folded after the 1971 season, and despite a revival of the name in the mid 1990's, it lasted only a couple years.
But if you love baseball...and you love history...you love the Aberdeen Pheasants.