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Gordie’s “Lost Ballparks” Find a Home in Lanesboro

By Steve Harris, May 21, 2024

Gordie Tindall of Lanesboro, Minnesota, in front of his pool hall. (Photo by Steve Harris)

Gordie’s “Lost Ballparks” Find a Home in Lanesboro


LANESBORO – Gordon Tindall (Gordie to family and friends) of Lanesboro, Minnesota, grew up in one of those 1950s childhoods that so many boomers love to cherish.

It was a time of quiet neighborhoods, Cub Scouts, Saturday morning kids’ TV, and baseball. Lots of baseball. Sandlot ball, Pee Wee League to Little League to Babe Ruth League, favorite major league teams and players, collecting cards and trying to chew that awful, cardboard bubble gum that came in each pack.

For most kids of that age, their love for baseball faded as real life introduced new realities and complications. For little Gordie Tindall, though, the love lingered, and even led to shoulder-rubbing with some pretty famous baseball names.

Gordie Tindall (top left corner) in the Knothole Gang in the 1950s as a kid from New Jersey. (Gordon Tindall collection)


Telling the stories of America’s favorite pastime

The popularity of Major League baseball in America halfway through the 20th century led to serious, adult baseball writing by respected literary figures with names like Updike, Angell, Halberstam, Creamer, even Poet Laureate Donald Hall. Thousands of books have been written about baseball; Wikipedia has 69 pages in that category alone; and Facebook’s “Baseball Books” group has more than 12,000 members and growing.

Ask those people to name the greatest baseball book ever written and one overwhelmingly shows up in everybody’s top ten. Published in 1966, “The Glory of Their Times” was written by Lawrence Ritter, a respected New York University economics professor and huge fan of early baseball. It’s doubtful this baseball bible will ever be out of print.

(Photo by Steve Harris)

Ritter wrote other baseball books, including “The Image of Their Greatness” and “The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.” In 1992 he published “Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball’s Legendary Fields” and on the dedication page, wrote: ““For Donald Honig, Ray Medeiros, and Gordon Tindall, with Admiration and Affection.”

Gordie Tindall, “from Decorah, Iowa,” as Ritter points out. Yup, there’s a story there and we had to talk with Gordie to find out more.

An interview with a local baseball legend

This reporter, Steve Harris, sat down with Gordie for a wide-reaching and entertaining interview on baseball, past and present. That abbreviated discussion follows:

Steve Harris (SH): Gordie, when did you first become a baseball fan?

Gordon Tindall (GT): I first paid attention when I was 7 years old in 1954 during the 7th game of the World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians.

SH: Did you come from a baseball “family?”

GT: My dad played ball and both my grandmother and mother were big fans. We have a picture from a family visit to the Hall of Fame with my mother and I sitting in actual seats from Ebbets Field.

SH: Who were your favorite teams?

GT: I rooted for the Philadelphia A’s but mostly for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Campanella. Pee Wee. Jackie Robinson. A very special team, loved in that community.

SH: Do you remember the first major league game you ever saw?

GT: When I was nine, they took a group of us Cub Scouts from our hometown of Dutch Neck, New Jersey, to Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. We got off the bus and were confronted by a group of Italian kids. We were standing there in our Cub Scout uniforms while those kids in their black leather jackets looked pretty scary! But we had a good time. As we walked up the ramp into the park, I saw Richie Ashburn who became one of my favorite players.

SH: Who do you think was the greatest player of all time?

GT: That’s easy. Willie Mays. He made everything he did on the ball field look so natural, hitting the ball, running to make a catch in the outfield. He was so fast! He loved playing the game more than any other player.

A lost ballpark postcard of Forbes Field (Pittsburgh) at night. (Gordon Tindall collection)

SH: The greatest pitcher?

GT: I’d say Bob Gibson. He was so dominating. The batter coming up to the plate seemed to have no chance of hitting the ball.

SH: As a boy you started a baseball card collection. Do you still have those cards?

GT: I collected from 1954-1958. The drawers of my bedroom dresser were overflowing with cards. When I got into my teens my interests changed and I remember my dad and I carrying those drawers of cards out to the backyard where we burned them. Usually guys blame their mothers for getting rid of their card collections. At our house it was me and my dad! After a few years I started collecting again and replaced many of those cards, along with postcards of old ballparks, autographed photos and other memorabilia.

SH: Those postcards led to your Lawrence Ritter connection, is that right?

GT: Yes. In the 1970s I started to write a column called “The Bull Pen” for “The Baseball Bulletin,” a magazine edited by Ray Madeiros. He and I and swapped cards and he knew about my postcard collection. Lawrence Ritter was looking for illustrations for his “Lost Ballparks” book and Ray put him in touch with me. I chose 15-20 cards and sent them off to him. A night shot of Forbes Field in Pittsburgh was a particular favorite of mine.

SH: Gordie, are you still a baseball fan?

GT: The game has changed so much. That makes it difficult. I went to a game two years ago at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Cubs vs. Pirates. I don’t think I’ll ever go to another. The strategy of moving players along, the art of sacrifices and bunts, hitting to the opposite field, all of that is gone. Newer changes like pitch clocks and extra-inning “ghost runners” makes it feel like a different game. Not to mention people in the stands mostly texting on cell phones and not paying attention to what’s happening on the field. It’s not the baseball I grew up with.

SH: Will there be baseball 50 years from now?

GT: I imagine there will be. It’s hard to think of baseball ever going away. But the game will no doubt keep changing.

Gordon Tindall shows off an autographed photo of Brooklyn Dodger star, Roy Campanella, and Nat King Cole. (Gordon Tindall collection)


Baseball star Mickey Mantle once said, “nothing’s ever been as fun as baseball.” Maybe that’s why “losing” baseball seems a frightening thought.

We’ve definitely lost some old ballparks (farewell, Shibe Park, Crosley Field, and the Polo Grounds) and some now-forgotten strategies that made the game unique. What we haven’t lost, thanks to guys like Lanesboro’s Gordie Tindall, are stories of ballplayers and games that will never die.

Play ball!




Steve Harris who once started a game at third base for the Santa Clara (CA) Lions Little League team, is a freelance writer and can be reached at sharris1962@msn.com or (952) 836-7904.

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