Green Isle is small town situated in Sibley County in southwestern Minnesota, between the towns of Hamburg and Arlington on Highway 5. With a population of a little less than 500 people, it’s a farming community like many others in the area.
One of the things that makes Green Isle such a special place is its rich history and its deep love of baseball. Green Isle has fielded a baseball team for as long as anyone can remember. The people who live there have always known baseball and whatever changes the town has undergone, baseball remained a constant.
Green Isle was settled by Irish immigrants, brought to Minnesota by Father John Ireland in the mid 1800's. The early settlers had to contend with harsh winters, hot summers and even hostile Indians. The first Pioneers can still be found in the cemetery of Saint Brendan's church, with its tall steeple it is arguably Green Isle's most recognizable landmark.
Baseball has probably been played in Green Isle for more than 100 years. The Green Isle Record reported box scores as far back as the early 1900’s. The term “town ball” was a label given much later but is accurate because many of the areas small towns played against each other and it became a source of pride for the towns and surrounding communities.
Early players such as Hank Harnish and a few of the O’Meara boys played well into their late 30’s and early 40’s. It wasn’t uncommon to see a First Baseman or Pitcher playing past 50. The baseball played in Green Isle was always competitive and it is said that some of the old timers could have turned professional if only the big clubs had seen them play.
There is a story, that when Ted Williams was with the Minneapolis Millers as a minor leaguer in 1938, he took a car trip to Green Isle to play a friendly game with the team. It is said that he hit a ball so hard and so far, it hit the old school building which would have been about 475 ft from home plate by some estimates. After the game, he complimented the boys and called them “real good ball players”.
If you have the opportunity on a sunny Saturday in June, take a drive to Green Isle, find the ballpark across from St. Brendan’s Church, buy a ticket for a few bucks, grab a cold beverage, take a seat in the stands and enjoy a couple hours of baseball heaven. You’ll find the people are very friendly, the baseball is high quality and the magical atmosphere will surpass your expectations.
Green Isle is a Minnesota treasure.
Link to Green Ilse Irish Baseball