The Museum maintains an extensive local history library for use by appointment. Holdings
include a growing photo archive currently containing over 3000 images, both historical and
professional books, and archival materials. The Museum also maintains files of most Brown
Copies of photo archive prints are available for public use.
Aberdeen Pheasants Baseball
Aberdeen has always been a baseball town with organized teams playing semi-professional
ball as far back as the 1890s. The Dakota League was organized after W.W.I and
offered Aberdeen fans their first taste of professional baseball. That league
folded in 1922. After W.W.II another professional baseball team, the Aberdeen
Pheasants, was organized in Aberdeen as part of the Northern League and had their
inaugural season in 1947.
Ben Siebrecht, owner of Siebrecht Florist and Greenhouse, was the president of a five member board charged with the duties of organizing and operating that early Pheasants team. The board raised $25,000 by selling stock to local investors and were able to establish a working agreement with the St. Louis Browns as a source for players. That agreement survived the Browns’ move to Baltimore and became the longest working agreement between major and minor league teams in baseball history lasting 26 years.
Games were played at the municipal ball field located on the campus of Northern State University. The original stadium burned down in 1952 and was quickly replaced. Eventually the replacement stadium was torn down to make room for the Barnett Center. Early games during the first season started at 5:30pm because the field wasn’t lighted but later during that season, lights were added thanks to contributions from the enthusiastic fans. The Pheasants built a steady fan base drawing crowds of over 3000 by their second season.
Many big name players wore the Aberdeen Pheasants uniform at some time in their careers. Pitcher Don Larsen famous for pitching a perfect game in the 1956 World Series as a New York Yankee played for the Pheasants in 1947 and 1948. Bob Turley was a 1949 Pheasant prior to winning the Cy Young Pitching Award in 1958 as a New York Yankee. Tito Francona played on the 1953 Pheasants prior to playing on 8 different major league teams. He even married an Aberdeen girl, Roberta Jackson. Jim Palmer pitched for the Pheasants during the 1964 season. He is the only former Pheasant to be named to the baseball hall of fame. Dave Leonhard pitched for the 1963 and 1964 Pheasants and pitched for the Baltimore Orioles from 1967-1972. Mark Belanger was also on the 1964 Pheasants and was eventually named the American League all-star shortstop in 1976 as an Oriole. Lou Piniella played for the 1964 team prior to moving to the majors that same season. Cal Ripken, Sr. was a manager of the Pheasants for the 1963-1966 sea.
Not to be forgotten is “Philbert” the cartoon pheasant drawn by Gordon Haug, the advertising artist for Aberdeen’s Olwin-Angell department store. Philbert appeared on the front page of the Aberdeen American News the morning after each game with an appropriate comment about the game’s outcome.
The biggest game in Pheasant history took place in 1964 when the parent team, the Baltimore Orioles, came to town to play their minor league cohorts. The Orioles posted a 6-3 win in front of a capacity crowd. The Pheasants’ final season was 1971.
In 1995, local baseball enthusiasts re-established the Aberdeen Pheasant team and gave Aberdeen fans three seasons of baseball excitement prior to disbanding the organization at the end of the 1997 season.
Historic information and photos provided by the Dacotah Prairie Museum