The parade wound … well, no, it didn’t. It didn’t wind, unwind or serpentine. The parade didn’t even parade, not as the word is defined.
The dictionary describes “parade” as traversing “streets.” The St. Paul Saints did not traverse streets on Monday. They traversed street.
Late Monday morning, the champions of the American Association gathered on Broadway, at one corner of CHS Field in St. Paul. Their mascot did calisthenics. Their players did not.
Led by a marching band consisting of a drummer, a trumpeter and a trombonist, they drove golf carts and what in a former life may have been random farm implements — think low-budget “Mad Max” without the flame-throwing guitar — past loudly cheering fans.
They completed a journey of which Kent Hrbek would have approved, riding for a block before pulling over and passing around their trophy. No hamstrings or carburetors were harmed in the making of this event.
The Saints won their first championship in 15 years on Saturday night at CHS. Sunday, many of their players headed home, and Sean Aronson sent out a funny tweet. The team’s radio voice and vice president of broadcasting and media relations used the team account to announce a one-block, one-minute victory parade on Monday.
“Sean was the culprit,” General Manager Derek Sharrer said. “I’m checking Twitter, reveling in the celebration, and all of a sud--den I see a tweet from the Saints pop up and the first sentence talks about the parade, and my thought is, ‘Holy heck, I haven’t talked to the city or about blocking off streets.’
“Then I saw the one-street, one-minute line and I had a laugh. I didn’t think anything else of it. Then I got a call from Sean. He said, ‘Hey, we have to do this. This has become real.’ ”
The social media response turned a joke into an event. Manager George Tsamis started texting the players who were still in town. At 11:15 a.m. Monday, Tsamis walked onto Broadway to do an interview, and the street was close to deserted. He came back at 11:30, riding in the lead golf cart, and the street was packed.
A transit bus pulled up on its regular route and earned a cheer. Once the bus left, the procession began. Musical director Andrew Crowley had mustered the three-instrument band. Random people dressed as if for a vaudeville show danced and chanted. Most of the crowd wore Saints gear and cheered.
As the parade ended, Sharrer jumped onto a planter and hollered, “I have no idea what to say because I had no idea you’d be here.” He thanked the team and the fans, and then everyone passed around the trophy and the musicians played.
“This was so Saints,” Tsamis said. “This was perfect.”
The Saints’ motto is “Fun Is Good.” The team is famous for its promotions. They have built the best independent league franchise in baseball, and while they revel in their oddball promotions, they had chafed over their championship drought.
“Whether you’re in the big leagues or little leagues, winning a championship is hard,” said Tsamis, the former Twins pitcher.
“And it’s all I ever think about.”
Tsamis began recruiting his players to attend Monday’s Twins game, where Tsamis threw out the first pitch for his old franchise. Nearby, Saints pitcher Eddie Medina passed the trophy to a teammate and related his quintessential independent-league story.
“I was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012 but had a herniated disc, so I failed the physical and that put me on the independent route,” he said.
The Staten Island native has pitched all over the country and had success with the now-defunct Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association. “This was the trip you always circled, getting to play at this ballpark, in St. Paul,” he said.
So he signed with the Saints before the 2018 season, wore the occasional Mr. Rogers sweater for promotions, helped bring a championship to St. Paul, then stuck around on Monday for one more minute, and one more block.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • email@example.com