SD Historical Society gets big baseball donation

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 28, 2014 at 11:41 am •  Published: March 28, 2014
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PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota native has donated his extensive collection of Northern League baseball memorabilia to the State Historical Society, which plans to feature it prominently in an exhibit opening in the fall.

Paul Gertsen, who was raised in Aberdeen and graduated from high school in Huron, has worked for both the St. Paul Saints and the Minnesota Moose and currently works for the city of St. Paul, Minn.

"I started collecting baseball cards in 1971, the same year I saw my first Aberdeen Pheasants games," he said. "I have collected baseball memorabilia since that time, and started to build my Northern League collection — slowly but surely — in 1983. I wanted to donate to an institution that would preserve the intact nature of the collection, and make it available for display and research."

The Northern League is an independent professional baseball league that dates to 1902. Memorabilia donated by Gertsen includes the plaque from the cornerstone of Aberdeen Athletic Field; game-worn uniforms from the Aberdeen Pheasants, St. Cloud Rox and Winnipeg Maroons; team autographed baseballs and game-used bats; and more than 560 autographs of major league players, coaches and umpires who at one time were associated with the Northern League.

"The importance of this collection is incredible," said Dan Brosz, curator of collections at the Historical Society's museum.

Some items already are on display in the museum. Items from the collection also will be featured prominently in an exhibit opening Oct. 24 in the Historical Society's museum tentatively called "Play Ball! The National Pastime in South Dakota." The exhibit will run through March 2016.