Since the field opened 41 years ago, the Gophers have had only two seasons where they had a losing record in home games. In 13 seasons they lost two or fewer games at home. In 1977, the Gophers went 26-0 at home.
Besides the impressive winning percentage, Anderson said Siebert Field will be remembered for one other thing.
“The incredible playing surface,” said Anderson. “From the first time I saw the field in 1973, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it looked. Coach Siebert was always adding on and fixing the place up, with the help of guys like Paul Fortin.
“Coach Siebert hired Cliff Replogle to be his groundskeeper. Cliff had been the groundskeeper for the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. Cliff was so proud of this field. It was always perfectly manicured. Coach Siebert would bring his lunch out and sit in the dugout with Cliff. While they were sitting, Cliff would get up if he saw one blade of grass out of place. Everyone who played here always noted how perfect the field was.”
Siebert Field had been worth the wait.
After becoming the Gophers coach in the summer of 1947, Dick Siebert had envisioned a field with a permanent grandstand for the baseball team. During his first season in 1948, the Gophers played on Northrop Field (between Cooke Hall and the Armory).
In 1949, the area around Northrop Field was needed for the new Fieldhouse, so a baseball field was constructed for the Gophers at 17th Avenue and 7th Street SE (the area beyond the left-field fence of Siebert Field). That field would be called Delta Field and would be home for the Gophers through the 1970 season. In 1967, the field was renamed Bierman Field in honor of former Gophers football coach Bernie Bierman. Bierman, who coached the Gophers to five national championships, passed away in March of 1967.
In October of 1969, the University Athletic Department announced plans to upgrade its facilities with a new athletic office building, a football practice field and a new baseball stadium.
It was hoped that construction of the new baseball field would begin within a month so the facility would be ready for the 1970 baseball season. But groundbreaking for the project was delayed because of higher bids than expected, which forced the project to need additional funding.
The delay, which delayed the start of the project until December of 1969, meant that the new stadium, which would be located one block west of the Bierman Field, wouldn’t be ready for the 1970 season.
In the spring of 1971, the opening of the field was again pushed back by several weeks. The Gophers played four “home” games at Parade Stadium in downtown Minneapolis and two games at Midway Stadium in St. Paul as the final touches were put on the field.
Finally, the new field was ready. On April 23, 1971 the Gophers made their debut in their new home by sweeping a doubleheader from Creighton. The next day the Gophers swept another doubleheader from the Bluejays.
On April 30, 1971, the field, which was called Bierman Field until 1978 before being renamed Siebert Field in 1979, was formally dedicated prior to the Gophers’ Big Ten home opener against Ohio State. Former Gophers baseball coach and athletic director Frank McCormick threw out the first pitch and the crowd of about 1,000 gave Siebert a standing ovation.
Siebert told the crowd, “It’s all these (former) players and the players sitting over there in the dugout, who have made this new stadium possible.”
Moments later, in the bottom of the first inning, John Peterson led off for the Gophers with a home run to right-center field. The Gophers went on to sweep a doubleheader from the Buckeyes, 5-4, and 12-3. The Gophers went on to win 11 of their first 12 games at their new home.
Siebert told the Minnesota Daily that one person deserved credit for the new field finally being built.
“I would say that Marsh Ryman (Gophers athletic director) was the spearhead for this new stadium,” Siebert said. “When they took over all this land for development of athletic facilities, Ryman was the one to push for the stadium.”
Between 1971 and 1978, the Gophers compiled a 127-24-2 (.837 winning percentage) at Bierman Field. Siebert was getting ready for his 32nd season as the Gophers coach when he passed away in December of 1978. Assistant coach George Thomas took over the program.
On April 21, 1979, Bierman Field was renamed Siebert Field. With more than 60 former players and representatives of college and professional baseball present, Thomas told the crowd, “There’ll never be another Dick Siebert. There’ll never be another one so dedicated to his profession.”
Since 1979, the Gophers have compiled a 457-155 record (.743 winning percentage) at Siebert Field.
Gophers assistant head coach Rob Fornasiere, who is in his 27th season on the Gophers staff, has a dual perspective on Siebert Field’s legacy.
“What I remember most about Siebert Field is the great Family Baseball atmosphere and how much pride our teams took playing there. Playing for the Gophers at Siebert Field was the pinnacle of the amateur player in our State,” said Fornasiere, who played two games at Siebert Field in each of his four years on the Wis.-La Crosse baseball team.
- written by Joel Rippel, author and news assistant for the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Siebert Field - Memorable Moments
April 23, 1971 -- First game at Bierman Field, the Gophers swept a nonconference doubleheader from Creighton, 2-1, and 5-4
May 16, 1988 -- The Gophers make Coach John Anderson's birthday memorable with a 15-4 and 5-0 doubleheader sweep of Wisconsin. The sweep gave the Gophers a spot in the Big Ten playoffs and knocked the Badgers out of the playoffs.
May 5, 1990 -- Brent Gates hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Gophers to a 6-4 victory over Wisconsin in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
April 13, 2001 -- Jack Hannahan hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Gophers a 7-6 victory over Michigan in the first game of a doubleheader.
April 14, 2001 -- Jack Hannahan went 4-for-4, walked twice and hit two solo home runs in the Gophers' 26-8 victory over Michigan.
March 30, 2003 -- The Gophers rally from an 8-0 deficit after 1 1/2 innings for an 11-10 victory over Michigan State in the second game of a doubleheader. The victory completes a 4-game weekend sweep of the Spartans.