Jack Ruhr Field - Miesville Mudhens
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Jack Ruhr Field
14221 240th St E
Miesville, MN 55033
Year Opened: 1961 Capacity: 600
Minnesota's Field of Dreams
Take one look at Jack Ruhr Field and it all begins to seep in; the small ballpark located off a state road in tiny Miesville, Minnesota, is just off the beaten path, but close enough to the Twin Cities for a quick visit for any ballpark traveler. It’s the one town ballpark that everyone seems to mention as their favorite, even author Todd Mueller described it as the ‘ground zero for Minnesota baseball” in his book Town Ballparks of Baseball.
Miesville has a population of 126 people and a history of baseball dating back to the 1920s when amateur games were played on farmland pastors around town. The current ballpark was constructed in 1961 after the league stipulated the town would lose its ball club if a new stadium was not constructed. A total of 25 local businessmen put up $100 to build a new stadium on five acres of land.
What may be the most impressive part of Jack Ruhr Field is that everything from field manicuring, ballpark improvements, concession items, and routine maintenance are handled by a group of dedicated volunteers who rent the ballpark from the city. It costs $40,000 to $50,000 to operate the club and a bulk of that money comes from its annual banquet dinner and a bowling tournament that is held the weekend before the Super Bowl. However, the group has found a myriad of ways to improve the ballpark throughout the years.
A recent event that attracted 1,200 customers to “The Jack” was a St Paul Saints barnstorming exhibition. The event helped pay to improve the flooring near the main entrance and concession area. Lights were added to the field in 1994 after being transported 174 miles away from the southwestern part of the state for a price of $15,000. A few years ago, a $25,000 twenty-two-foot scoreboard was erected due to a sponsorship from a nearby Treasure Island Resort & Casino.
The Mudhens have captured seven Class B State Championships and have made 26 playoff appearances in the State Amateur Baseball Tournament. The president of the club for the first five state championships was Jack Ruhr, who was also instrumental in the construction and maintenance of the field. In 1990, the stadium was renamed in his honor and a plaque near the concession stands is a reminder of his legacy.
Food & Beverage 4
The small concession stand offers cheap prices and the best brats in all of baseball. The smoked brats are specially made for the ball club by Greg’s Meats in nearby Hampton, Minnesota, and cannot be found anywhere else. They are finely ground and seasoned a bit differently than your normal brat. After one bite, it would be hard not to order another one before you leave for the night.
The ballpark also has award-winning hot dogs, also made by Greg’s, that are grilled up to perfection. They are locally made and have a natural casing and make a perfect snap when you bite into them. There are also dollar bags of fresh popcorn that some say is the best of the town ballparks.
The best part is that the prices are inexpensive with brats selling for $4, hot dogs for $3, hamburgers for $4, nachos for $3, and candy and Coca-Cola products for a buck. There are also six different cans of beers and Mike’s Hard Lemonade on sale for $3. The ever-popular Michelob Golden Light is among the most popular beer choice.
The 600-capacity ballpark offers covered grandstand seating behind home plate, open-air bleacher seating down the first base line, and one row of stadium seating between both dugouts. The right field and left field lines offer grass seating, except for a picnic area down the left field line.
The outfield walls are decorated with local advertisements with corn fields in the back of the right, adding a “Field of Dreams” quality to the ballpark. St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery lies east of the stadium’s parking lot and Miesville Fire Station on the opposite side. The dirt parking lot offers enough parking space for cars and includes a championship placard of the club’s championships on the way to the entrance of the field.
The concession stand is a popular spot located behind the Mudhens dugout; the small space offers a selection of food and it’s hard not to leave full from the tastiness of the brats, popcorn, and beer. There is also an area for team shirts and caps to the right of the area where there is also a memorial plaque to Jack Ruhr.
The press box features at times radio broadcasts for both home and visitors, especially if the rival Red Wing Aces are in town for a game. They usually bring in a crowd from just 15 miles down the road. There is also no love lost between these two foes; it’s a storied rivalry.
The crowd is friendly, easy-going, and will conjure up a few conversations about baseball with an out-of-town ballpark hunter like myself. When you settle into a game with a beer and brat in hand and find yourself a seat underneath the grandstand, there is not much different than being at a college or professional baseball venue.
Miesville is a town of 126 people, but there are two iconic restaurants near the ballpark. Kings Bar & Grill is among the top burger destinations in Minnesota and features well over 75 different types of burgers from the Bat Girl (peanut butter and jelly), Sacrifice (corn beef, sliced ham, bacon, cheddar, and sour cream), and the Pick Off (shredded pork, barbecue sauce, coleslaw, and gouda cheese). It is also a great place for beer and cocktails and an ideal hang-out destination before or after the ballgame.
Wiederholt’s Supper Club is under the fourth generation of ownership and just as close to the ballpark. A few of its popular entrees include prime rib, steak, lobster tail, baby back ribs, and chicken Kiev. The fish burger walleye is another popular choice.
Miesville is also near the river towns of Red Wing and Hastings, both places offer antique shops, small restaurants, breweries, parks, trails, and scenic views of the Mississippi River. Treasure Island Resort & Casino is the second largest hotel in Minnesota offering 788 rooms, The Lagoon water park and Wave Spa, an indoor and outdoor concert hall, a 24-alley bowling alley, an arcade, and a lounge.
There was a high percentage of rain during our visit to the ballpark and the weather had canceled the previous game a few days ago, but the covered grandstand was packed with fans for the 2 pm start. Many of them have been coming to games for many years and have stories to tell about the men who have suited up in a Mudhens uniform. To say they are knowledgeable would be an understatement; they know the game and they know it well.
Jack Ruhr Field is located on Route 61 and is about a 45-minute drive from the Twin Cities. Its location is off the main interstate, but the state roads of Minnesota get you to town rather quickly. Inside the ballpark, it is easy to get around from the grass seating down both outfield lines.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a ticket is three dollars, the parking is free of charge in the dirt lot behind the right field corner, and concession prices are all under four dollars. Watching amateur baseball with a dedicated fan base and enjoying great conversations is well worth the price of admission.
Jack Ruhr gets a point for cooking the best brats in all of baseball–minor league and major league. Many of the town ballparks offer locally made products, but the taste of these brats is the best in the business.
Jack Ruhr gets a second point for the volunteer support who put in an effortless amount of time to ensure the ballpark is well maintained from cutting the grass, lining up the field, stocking the concession stand, and other routine repairs. Their work pays off for the many visitors who take in a game each summer.
Jack Ruhr gets a final point for having Kings Bar & Grill just down the street; if you are planning a night out at the game and then burgers afterward–or before–it does not get much better than baseball, burgers, and beers in Miesville.