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The Last Dance, Explorers vs Saints

The last home stand of the year was played Saturday August 31st - Monday September 2nd between the Sioux City Explorers and the Saints at Midway. The series would not end the season well for the Saints as they dropped all three games, and finished with a nine game losing streak at home. But that does not mean there wasn't fun at the ballpark that weekend, quite the contrary. The Saints would provide some of the best moments of the season in their final showing of 2013.

Mark Hamburger

Game one of the Saints and Explorers series saw the home team lose for the seventh strait game at Midway, this time by a score of 4-0 on a rainy Friday night. The Saints were held to four hits on the night, and shutout for the eleventh time on the season, setting a new team record. But there were a couple positives from the game. Pitcher Mark Hamburger threw his fifth complete game of the season, setting another record for the hometown kid. Hamburger ended the year holding the Saints single season records for innings pitched (149), strikeouts (120), and complete games (5). He also tied with fellow pitcher Anthony Claggett for starts on the year (21). It was leaked on Twitter shortly after the game that Hamburger was to sign with the Minnesota Twins organization after the Saints season ended Monday afternoon. I am very excited for him to get another shot with a big league team and wish him the best of luck. Congrats Mark!!! The promotion for the night was, "You'll need one of these to have the right to purchase seats: Saints Personal SeatLicense Giveaway". The first 1000 fans in the gate were given a Saints seat license for the new ballpark. In typical Saints fashion the seat license does not mean you own a seat at the new ballpark. It is a Minnesota license plate with SAINTS for the number and a date of May 2015 (when the new ballpark is scheduled to open) for the tabs. A clever play on the seat license money making ploy other professional teams use when a new stadium opens. During the game there was one of the better in between inning shows the Saints have done this season. Brian Kelly and Gert the Flirt were the field and decided to show Miley Cyrus and Robin Thick a thing about twerking and how to put on a show (referencing Cyrus and Thick's racy VMA performance last week). Brian sang (and quite well I must add) Thick's hit single Blurred Lines while Gert did her best Cyrus twerk, and dance moves. The dance party was also joined by Mudonna, Stadium Correspondent Rick Logan (wearing a bear head), and an intern (in a monkey head). Very amusing, and very fun to watch. Great job everyone! My MVP for the game is Mark Hamburger (9IP, 3ER, 5K's, CG, 3rd Saints record set on the year).

On the field for the Fire Works Super Show

Sunday night's game started with the Saints official on field announcement that Pitcher Mark Hamburger had his contract purchased by the Minnesota Twins, and Hamburger throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. It was a nice gesture by the Saints to wait until Sunday to announce the signing when they had full stands to give the pitcher his deserved ovation and acknowledgement. During the game fans would see another Saints pitcher throw a complete game in a losing effort, and another Saints record fall. Pitcher Anthony Claggett went the distance giving up only three hits, and one earned run on the night, but would lose the game 2-1 (one run scored by the Explorers was unearned). The one run scored by the Saints was manufactured by Adam Frost as he set the record for stolen bases in a season (38). Frost walked in the second inning and then on consecutive pitches stole second and third base to set the mark. Donald Blunt would single him home for the Saints lone run. There was no promotion on the night as it was Fan Appreciation Night at Midway. Notable events from the evening included my wife, Stephanie, finding out she won second place (worth sixty Saints bucks) in the season ticket holder "Pick a Saint" fantasy baseball contest for the season (she beat me, I finished in third), and fellow blogger Kevin Luckow winning a Mark Hamburger autographed jersey in the What's in the Bag contest. Along with multiple fun and messy fan races in between innings. A touching moment from the game was when Brian Kelly brought a thank you card for the fans and passed it around the stands for everyone to look at. When the card finally made its way back to Brian he found that a large number of fans had signed the card (to the point of being full of signatures) thanking the Saints for another fun season. The evening concluded with kids being able to run the bases and get autographs from the team (a Sunday game staple), and then one of the best fireworks super shows I have ever seen. My MVP for the game is a tie between Anthony Claggett (9IP, 3H, 1ER, CG, 21st start tying Hamburger for the record) and Adam Frost (0-2, R, 2BB, 2SB, stolen base record).

The Harlem Shake

The last game of the season was played Monday September 2nd with a 1:05pm start time. The Saints would end up losing the game 4-3 in twelve innings, but the day would be remembered for more than just the final score. After the second inning was completed, P.A. announcer Halsey Lindquist walked onto the field to explain where the post game concert would be held. He was followed shortly after by a person in a full bear costume (later found out to be Saints pitcher Mark Hamburger) who stood at home plate. All of a sudden the Harlem Shake started playing over the sound system in the stadium and the bear began to dance. What followed was, well, just awesome. Both teams, the Entertainment team, interns, and even Mackelboar rushed onto the field all dressed in costumes and danced together around home plate. It was great to see everyone out on the field just plain old having fun on the last day of the season. Once again there was no promotion for the game as day at the ballpark was the Saints Labor Day celebration. The day was filled with fun games, contests, and comedy bits from the Saints Entertainment team. Among the best was a contest to see which fan could get the other contestant's white suit (because your not supposed to wear white after Labor Day) the most dirty using anything from chocolate syrup to beets. This contest was definitely the messiest of the year. There was also a great cover of the Donna Summer hit Last Dance during the game as a send off to the season. After the game was completed fans were treated to a food truck rally on the infield warning track, and a free concert by singer Tim Mahoney, who's band was set up on top of the visitors dugout. This game was extra special for me as I became a member of the exclusive 50 for 50 club, making it to every home game played in the 2013 season at Midway. My wife almost made it, going 49 for 50 (work kept her from one game which my Mom attended with me). When we first decided to get season tickets this year our goal was to make it to every game. I think we did pretty darn good for our first season!  My MVP for the game is Dan Kaczrowski (2-5, R, 2RBI, HR) with honorable mention to pitcher Jon Plefka (3IP, 0ER, 3K's and 1-1, collecting his first professional hit in the bottom of the 10th inning).

Well, that puts a wrap on the 2013 St. Paul Saints season. I must say I am sad to see it end. Please continue to check back for future blogs as I have a couple of ideas to keep the Saintstrain alive for the off season. You can also follow me on Twitter (@benszer), on Facebook (Ben Szeremeta), or Instagram (@benszer) where I will post when I have a new blog. It has been a blast writing this year and talking to all of you at the ballpark! I can't wait for next season!

Go Saints!