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Play Ball!


Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, May 29, 2000

Outside the old St. Mane Theatre in downtown Lanes-boro, the sweet strains of the Count Baise and Duke Ellington orchestras float through the warm evening air. Even before entering the theatre, you know you are about to be taken back to another time and another place.

The time is the postwar 1940’s, when the USA was a sharply divided country, deeply segregated along ra-cial lines. White America had its Major League Baseball and Black America had what was then called the Negro Leagues. This is the setting for the Commonweal Theatre’s newest play, Most Valuable Player.

It was Jackie Robinson who finally broke the color barrier in professional baseball and in his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers played so superbly, in spite of constant harassment, taunts and even death threats, that he was named Rookie of the Year. The play unfolds as a series of snapshots and flashbacks that cover the gamut of Robinson’s career; from his California childhood to the end of the 19 season, when he won the Most Valuable Player Award in the National League.

Guiesseppe Jones, a New York actor making his first appearance on the Lanesboro stage, plays the leading role of Jackie Robinson. Jones quickly establishes himself as a likeable guy we’re going to be pulling for. He plays Jackie with just the right blend of defi-ance and grace. Wherever Jackie goes from the sandlot ballfields of his childhood to the big league stadiums of the 1940’s, hostility and hate are there to greet him. When Jackie gets called up to the Dodgers, some of his fellow teammates start a petition to keep him off the team. Rival ballplayers and racist fans jeer and mock him unmercifully. For strength Jackie repeats the mantra, the quiet affirmation, that his older brother gave him: "I’m a Robinson and Rob-inson’s don’t give up".

The four other actors who make up the cast, all newcomers to the Commonweal Stage, turn in some fine solid performances. Nicholas Ozment is the far-sighted progressive baseball owner, Branch Rickey who recruits Robinson. Ozment nurtures both Robinson’s talent and fighting spirit with compassion and understanding.

Torsten Hillhouse plays PeeWee Reese, Robinson’s buddy and double-play partner, with verve and gusto. Mark Baer is Jackie’s nemesis, an opposing pitcher who is a bigoted redneck without shame. And then there’s June Christy Burch, playing a BBC journalist who is a bit befuddled by the complicated game o .....
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Fillmore County Pork Producers
Hoffman Stables

When music meets the land

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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Many people are familiar with the expression “The opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings,” but how about “…until the cow bellows,” or “…until the kitten frolics?” This was the case for 1,500 opera-goers last Sunday at the University of Minnesota’s ..... 
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Whalan, MN

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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Our limestone karst region is dotted with "sink holes" which indicate caverns below ground such as the caves at Mystery Cave near Forestville State Park.

When you visit the heart of Bluff Country, take the drive on MN Hwy. 80 and you will fin ..... 
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Whalan, MN

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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Whalan, with a population of 90, is one of the smaller towns along the trail. The town provides excellent access to the Root River Trail and nearby recreational activities. Situated at the midway point between Fountain and Rushford on the Root River ..... 
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Stewartville, MN

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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Stewartville is a small city with a friendly atmosphere lo-cated in the beautiful Root River Valley 10 miles south of Rochester. Known as the Gateway to the Historic Bluff County, Stewartville has much to offer, whether you come for a visit or stay f ..... 
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St. Charles, MN

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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St. Charles, known as the Gladiola Capitol, and located at the Gateway to Whitewater State Park to the north and I-90 entrance to S.E. MN. Historic Bluff Country to the south.

It boasts a historic central business district, several year-round ..... 
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Spring Valley, MN

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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Sample the Seasons in Spring Valley

Sample spring and rediscover the solitude and harmony of nature. Angle for trout, enjoy wild flowers, take up birding, scout for mushrooms -- these and more can be enjoyed in the countryside near Spr ..... 
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Spring Grove, MN

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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Velkommen til Spring Grove

In a world of mass-produced, carbon copy, electronic images and impersonal life experiences, fine quality service and warm, friendly people are scarce as hen's teeth. But not in Spring Grove.

Spring G ..... 
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Rushford, MN

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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The first pioneers pole-boated up the Root River to the junction of Rush Creek, peered through 10-foot tall grasses, and learned what Indians already knew - this was astonishing beauty. On Christmas Eve 1854, the first four families gathered and name ..... 
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