Cooperstown's Fiftieth Birthday

Cooperstown's fiftieth anniversary celebration was the first of the big events of that nature in the state.  To be sure, there had been others before it, but of much smaller dimensions, in other towns and cities, and they were more or less perfunctory, staged because it seemed to be the thing to do.

But this one was unique.  It was widely advertised too with posters displayed into Minnesota and even as far west as Minot and Bismarck.  "Come to Cooperstown," the posters screamed, "and you will see a real celebration!"

The parade was gigantic, with endless strings of beautiful horses, steam engines doing their smoking best, wagons carrying floats and scores of pretty girls, clowns doing handsprings along the route, and bands blaring forth the famous Sousa marches.

The chief difficulty was finding a place to stand.  The crowd that came to Cooperstown that day was estimated at 10,000 people.  Cars were parked along the highways, as much as two miles out of town.

The platform acts before the grandstand filled the old fairgrounds to capacity.  Stands had been set up to feed the crowd, but they were unable to handle the multitude, and many went without food the whole day.

In the late afternoon, the Cooperstown American Legion baseball team, then the state champions, took on Jamestown.  It was the first meeting ever between the two.  Cooperstown won the game 5 to 0 behind the three-hit pitching of Floyd Stromme, who set a personal record of twenty strikeouts in a single game.

However, the story about that game was not the game itself, but the attendance.  The crowd ringed the playing field, from the grandstand, across the racetrack on both sides, and around the outfield.  Beyond the crowd was row upon row of automobiles, mostly Model T's and Model A's, and all crammed with people, come to see the state champions play at no charge.

The Legionnaires tried to estimate the size of the crowd.  They counted the cars, the people in the grandstand, and as best they could, they estimated the number of people sitting on the ground along the sidelines.  The figure they came up with was 5,000.

To this day it very likely is the largest crowd that ever watched an American Legion baseball game in North Dakota.

Oswald Tufte

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 253

News & Events