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Franklin Rogers Park / Mankato MoonDogs

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Franklin Rogers Park / Mankato MoonDogs
Page 2: The Mets Who Made It
Page 3: The Mets Pull Out
Page 4: Parking and More
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Franklin Rogers Park is one of those older ballparks you can find scattered across the United States: too small to house a minor-league baseball team but large enough to attract the attention of entrepreneurs looking to bring in a summer collegiate team. Such is the case with Franklin Rogers Park, home of the Mankato MoonDogs. Even though Franklin Rogers Park has been around for fifty years, the park's been renovated several times, so there's very little to Franklin Rogers Park that's really old. It's not especially distinctive in any way, but it is a comfortable place to watch a ballgame.

FAST FACTS

Opened: 1961
Capacity: 2,000 (give or take)
Dimensions: 315L, 383LC, 381RC, 325R
Playing Surface: Grass
Website: mankatomoondogs.com
Original Name: Key City Park
Former Tenant: Mankato Mets (1967-1968)
Phone: 507/625-7047
Ticket Prices (2010): Premium, $8; Reserved Adult, $7; General Admission, $6. Dog Pound (all you can eat): Adults, $24; Children, $15.
League: Northwoods League (summer collegiate)
Parking: Free and abundant on both sides of the ballpark
Address/Directions: 601 Reed St., Mankato, MN 56001. The ballpark is north of Madison Avenue, which runs east-west from downtown Mankato to the outskirts of town. Take Long Street north of Madison Avenue. As you head north on Long, the park will be right in front of you; hang a left and then a right (or a right and then a left) to get to the parking lots.

We have no idea what the capacity of the park is anymore; at one point it was 1,100, but over the last several years the MoonDogs have added seating here and there as well as an all-you-can eat deck down left field and a party deck over the right-field concession stand. The grandstand has two sections, with multiple sections of backed seating flanked by nine rows of bleachers. (Some of the backed seating, by the way, was moved from Milwaukee's County Stadium before it was razed.) There are also some picnic tables down the first-base line, in the midst of the concessions.

Really, there’s not much to the ballpark. The grandstand is where most of the fans sit. That’s OK. Mankato is a pretty low-key community, and a MoonDogs game is a low-key affair. The ballpark is pretty, the grandstand nice, and the atmosphere relaxed. All of these make a drive to Mankato for a MoonDogs well worth the time.

Though Key City Park opened in 1961, the city’s pro history begins in 1966, when Bismarck-Mandan dropped out of the Northern League at the end of the season. Charlie Frey, supervisor of scouting for the New York Mets, asked an old friend, Fritz Taylor, if he thought Mankato could support a pro baseball team. Frey knew the area from managing and playing for the Mankato Merchants in the Southern Minny League in the 1950s. Taylor formed a group called Mankato Area Baseball Corp. that ran the team. Taylor worked a plan to play at Key City Park, which held just 1,160 seats but could be expanded.

The Mets did their best to help promote the team. At a winter banquet intended to drum up interest in the new team, then New York manager Wes Westrum and Yogi Berra (then a Mets coach) appeared, as did Davy Jones, a teammate of Ty Cobb’s who lived in Mankato.