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All-Star game puts spotlight on Minnesota baseball

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Target Field will be the epicenter of the baseball world next week with the All-Star game. This event has brought good publicity not only to the Twins and Target Field, but to the state's baseball community.

Jim Caple of ESPN.com wrote Thursday that Minnesota's baseball culture is as strong and vibrant as anywhere in the country.

St. Paul native Paul Molitor said it's ironic that a northern state - often referred to as the State of Hockey - has such an interest in baseball.

"People gravitate to this game in Minnesota," Molitor said.

Caple points out that the Twins were the first team to draw 3 million fans in one season - 1988. He also talked about the popularity of town team baseball in Minnesota. There are over 300 town teams who play in the Minnesota Baseball Association.

Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar has gotten to see Minnesota's love for baseball on multiple levels. Thielbar grew up playing baseball in Randolph, Minnesota, and played there all the way through town ball. He then went on to pitch for the St. Paul Saints and is now playing for his hometown team.

Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune wrote about the popularity of baseball in Cold Spring Wednesday. Reusse calls Cold Spring, "quite a baseball town."

Despite baseball's dwindling popularity, America's pastime seems to be doing alright in Cold Spring. Bill Huls, a coaching legend in Cold Spring, said a lot of kids are playing in their town, partially due to the location of the town ball team's ballpark.

“I think it comes from having this ballpark right in the middle of town," Huls said. "The younger kids ride their bikes over here in the summer and set up games in the outfield, trying to hit home runs.’’

Dennis Brackin of the Star Tribune said the state of baseball in Minnesota is strong, but there is still work ahead.

Twins President Dave St. Peter told Brackin that baseball needs to work on getting more kids in inner cities involved, as well as making the game more exciting. St. Peter also said that a winning Twins team would positively impact baseball participation in Minnesota.

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