The St. Patrick Athletic Association (SPAA) is a 501(7)C non-profit organization located in the hamlet of St. Patrick, MN. The general purpose of the SPAA is to provide an opportunity for kids and kids at heart a place to enjoy the game of baseball. SPAA provides leadership to ensure teams are properly organized, have proper equipment, have a suitable place to play their baseball games, and their fans have a great experience watching them play.
Currently, SPAA supports youth teams consisting of the following: Midgets teams (3rd & 4th grade), Pee Wees (5th & 6th grade), 13U (7th grade), 15U (8th/9th grade) and Town and Country (9th, 10th, 11th grades). The SPAA also supports three adult amateur teams: the St. Patrick Irish, which is an MBA Class C team, and is a member of the Dakota-Rice-Scott League. They have made the State Tournament 18 times (1982, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022), with their best finish being 2nd Place in Class C in the 2020 season. The St. Patrick Shamrocks started play in 2011, and are a 35 and Over team playing in the Federal League. They won the Class A State Championship in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2013, and won the Class C State Championship in 2011 (in a different League). Finally, in 2019, the St. Patrick Emeralds played their inaugural season. They are a 50 and Over team playing in the MN 50+ Baseball League.
All SPAA games are played at beautiful Bonin Field in St. Patrick. The field was named after a former Catholic Priest, Fr. Leo Bonin, who was instrumental in supporting local baseball in St. Patrick. After an extensive renovation project in 1989, Bonin Field is one of the finest local ballparks in the area. An electronic scoreboard was erected in 2004, infield irrigation was added in 2008, and over 1,000 linear feet of drainage tile was added below the playing surface in 2012. In late summer 2015, irrigation was added to the rest of the field, as well as a zone to water the infield ag-lime. In the fall of 2018, the 30-year old homemade backstop was demolished and replaced with a concrete kneewall and net backstop system. Part of the project was funded by a $10,000 grant from the Minnesota Twins Community Fund.
In early 2021 a Capital Campaign was launched for various improvements. By the end of 2021, nearly $335,000 was pledged, and Phase I of improvements, the installation of Musco LED ballpark lights, was set it motion.
The lights were installed in February 2022, and the first official night game at Bonin Field took place on June 3, 2022. Additional improvements are on the Agenda as additional Campaign funds are secured.
The large embankment along the third base side gives fans a unique bird’s eye view of the action on the field. A fully stocked concession stand offers cold beverages, hot dogs, candy, chips, popcorn, and other treats at each game. The field’s dimensions offer 318 ft. to each corner, 345 ft. to the gaps, and 365 ft. to straight away center.
The following comes from “The Land” magazine which featured a small article about St. Patrick in 2007.
“At the ol’ ball game; Irish’s home field, St. Patrick” by Lynnae Schrader
High-tech baseball fans can probably key in Fenway on their in-car navigation devices and instantly get driving directions straight to the Green Monster. The same may be true for 34 Kirby Puckett Place. But try and find St. Patrick, MN on a map, and your search won’t be as fruitful.
The die-hard fans of town baseball in this neighborhood just know where St. Patrick is. It’s sort of understandable how you could miss it – you can’t see it from “new” Highway 13 and it’s hard to spot driving by the church or the tavern (though it is the only other thing in town).
The St. Patrick Irish play down the hill in a “sunken” ball diamond. No bleachers here – fans gather on the hill over the third-base line to watch the game. (And the youngsters gather on the embankment and road above the first-base line waiting for their lucky break – 25 cents for fetching foul balls, 50 cents for a homerun.)
Basically, the town’s only homes are on the other side of that road. There’s no more town left to go around the outfield – just corn, alfalfa and a few round bales.
Team support has graced the hill for a long time, making and keeping baseball in St. Patrick a reality. Beyond merely cheering them on at games, many fans – and players – have contributed financially for things like the electronic scoreboard and the field “excavation.”
Years back, the poor guy stuck in left field had to run uphill to get those line drives. “Billy Goat Hill” is what they called it, according to long-time fans George Pexa and Don Rud.
George and Don have been around long enough to remember when local baseball was played in a nearby pasture and cow pies were the outfield obstacles.
When they’re not fishing or playing cards, this is where George and Don are – still watching St. Patrick baseball. George grew up in the area and still lives around St. Patrick. Don lives in Bloomington, but he continues to follow the team loyally, making frequent trips to the area. Though it might be closer for him to head to the Dome, Don says he would rather watch baseball on this grassy knoll in St. Patrick any day.