Lakewood Cemetery hotbed of local sports history

BY foxsports • July 31, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS -- There are few places where calm and quiet can tell legendary stories.Lakewood Cemetery in Uptown Minneapolis is one of them.
Amid the tranquil scenery, vibrant flowers and various examples of revival architecture reside memorials to several early characters in this city's rich sports story. Like the majority of Lakewood's 37,000-plus burial sites, they can't be found without prior knowledge of their exact location.
But a drive or walk through the gigantic resting place is sure to include passage past at least one prominent Twin Cities sports figure of yesteryear.
Winona native Paul Giel was buried in May 2002 on the grounds' far eastern edge. The two-sport star finished second in the 1953 Heisman voting but pursued professional baseball, signing with the New York Giants and playing six major league seasons.
After retiring in 1961, Giel worked for the Minnesota Vikings briefly then served as WCCO Radio's sports director for nearly a decade. He then became Minnesota's athletic director in 1972 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame three years later. His jersey number, 10, was retired in 1991.
Appropriately, the university's block "M" logo rises from the center of Giel's headstone.
Bobby Marshall took a similar path in and out of Dinkytown a half-century earlier, though his included a few more hurdles.
Marshall was the first African-American to play football in the Big Nine (now the Big Ten), manning end duties for Minnesota from 1904-1906. His senior year, he booted a 60-yard field goal to beat the University of Chicago.
Also a stud on the baseball diamond, he played professionally for the St. Paul Colored Gophers. The barnstorming group wasn't a formal Negro League team -- the all-black baseball association wasn't formed until 1920 -- but did pioneer the infancy of desegregation in the game.
In a move that'd be impossible for what few two-sport collegiate athletes exist today, Marshall helped break both color and age barriers when he joined the NFL's Minneapolis Marines from 1920-24. He was one of the league's first black players and was 44 when he hung up his cleats for good.
Marshall died in 1958 and is buried in Lakewood's northwest quadrant. In 1971, he was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
He's not the only Minneapolis-area baseball player laid to rest at the cemetery, located at 36th Street and Hennepin Avenue just northwest of Lake Calhoun.
Ossie Bluege spent most of his Major League Baseball career as a Washington Senator and accompanied the franchise to Minneapolis as a scout and comptroller following 18 seasons playing third base and several more coaching and managing in Washington. The Senators came up two wins short of a pennant during two of his years as a manager.
Bluege died at the age of 85. His grave is in the cemetery's southeast corner, virtually overlooking Calhoun Boulevard and the lake it's named after.
At the minor league level, George Dumont is one of several Minneapolis Millers players and coaches buried at Lakewood. Dumont pitched for his Double-A hometown team during eight seasons from 1914-1931. He also saw some time in the majors, with both Washington and the Boston Red Sox.
Following a major league career with the Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, St. Paul native Dick Siebert coached the University of Minnesota baseball team from 1948 and 1978 and led them to national championships in 1956, 1960 and 1964 and 11 Big Ten titles.
Both men rest at Lakewood.
Minneapolis Globe and Minneapolis Times writer Smith B. Hall does, too. His son, Halsey Hall, went on to cover sports for the Minneapolis Star, Minneapolis Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press and later broadcast Millers, Twins and Gophers football games.
It's the Halsey Hall chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research that put together a list of 22 diamond dwellers whose remains lie at Lakewood Cemetery. Halsey Hall himself was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, also located in Minneapolis.
But his father and a handful of other men render Lakewood a hidden hotbed of local sports lore.

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