Minnesota nuns still faithful to their Twins

Justin Ware

CROOKSTON, Minn. – The adventure to a Crookston bastion of Twins baseball history begins when the vehicle leaves Interstate 94 and embarks on Minnesota’s Highway 9 – where civilization’s absence procures a dangerous boredom.

But the passion of a convent at the end of that highway is inspiration enough to tackle 50 Highway 9’s.

The sisters of St. Joseph, Marywood convent have been listening to the Twins since the team’s induction into Major League Baseball 40 years ago.

Sister Cecilia Forcier recalled a deceased convent member’s enthusiasm for the team.

“She was such a fan, she would bring her headset to meetings and listen to games,” Sister Forcier said.

Often, in mid-meeting, the sister would let out shouts of joy when her team gave her reason to, Sister Forcier said.

“We thought she was having an attack,” she said.

Convent administrator Tom Lenertz e-mailed state Stadium Task Force member Barbara Muesing last week about the convent’s support for the Twins, petitioning for help in saving the Twins from demise.

“It really says something about the statewide support of the team,” said Muesing, who is also University director of campus administration.

On Friday, Hennepin County District Judge Harry Seymour Crump ordered the Twins to play their home games in the Metrodome for the 2002 season. The team is expected to appeal the decision.

While the Twins and the state will fight their battles in the courts, the sisters maintain their front in a quiet prairie town five hours from gameday action.

Sister Forcier and Sister Joann Johnson grew up in the Twin Cities and recall watching the Twins play at the outdoor Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.

“The years they won the World Series, I lived in Brooklyn Park,” Sister Forcier said. “I thought the apartment would come down.”

The sisters keep a mini-museum of memorabilia they have collected over the years, including a Homer Hanky, a game ball, a mug signed by Harmon Killebrew in 1971 and news clippings from the many visits Twins stars have made to the small convent and schools in a nearby community.

Former outfielder Dan Gladden and Hall of Fame member Kirby Puckett visited the area in the winter of 1988 – three months after the Twins won their first world championship.

“Kirby Puckett, now he was a real hero,” Sister Claire Arel said.

Having role models such as Puckett in the community are important for younger generations of Twins fans, Sister Johnson said.

Sister Arel, who has been listening to games since the team entered the league in 1961, said Twins baseball is a way of life for the people of northwestern Minnesota.

She said she remembers playing baseball as a child growing up in Crookston and how excited the community was when it found out baseball was coming to the state.

“It’s not just the Twin Cities, we follow (the Twins) here too,” Sister Arel said.

The sisters have been helping the Twins with cheers for several decades. Now, they say they seek a higher power to save the team from being eliminated from the league.

“We had a sister who, when she wanted something, she would put a note under a statue of St. Joseph,” Sister Arel said. “Maybe we should put a note for the Twins under there.”

Justin Ware welcomes comments at [email protected]