Part Way to the Majors: The 1970 Duluth Dukes

The 1971 educational film Part Way to the Majors, a documentary produced by ABC News for the Sunday afternoon series Discovery, follows the Duluth-Superior Dukes as they road trip to Sioux Falls, S.D. The film starts and ends at Wade Stadium in Duluth.

Host Bill Owen digs into the day-to-day lives of the minor league players and what it would take for them to break into the majors. The footage was shot during the 1970 season, which would be the last for the Dukes until a 1993 revival. In 1970 the team was affiliated with the Chicago White Sox.

The series Discover was canceled in 1971, shortly after this episode aired.

Below is a timeline of scenes, via the YouTube description from a different upload of the film, which is part of the Periscope Film archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation and aviation stock footage collections in the United States.

00:18 – 1970s silver coach bus parked next to Wade Municipal Stadium.
00:51 – Main titles.
01:18 – Bill Owen opening words from commercial street in Downtown Sioux Falls.
01:53 – Scenes of team members off in small groups exploring commercial street, coffee shops, shop windows selling 1970s fashion, retro appliances; voice over by one of the players describing life on the road.
03:09 – Team dressed in light blue uniform crowds small hotel lobby decorated with vibrant red carpet, red vinyl couches, dark wood accents as they wait for bus.
03:59 – Interior team bus, profile of player Dan Rourke, his story of trying to break into the majors.
04:32 – Team manager Joe Sparks looks on at batting and field skills practice on baseball diamond; neighborhood kids seen hanging over ads on stadium walls to observe the practice.
05:52 – High intensity discharge lighting turned on, illuminates field at dusk.
06:10 – Bill Owen sits on bench in team dugout with other Duluth Dukes team members.
06:27 – Game between Duluth Dukes and Sioux Falls Packers.
07:19 – Close-up scoreboard showing the Dukes in the lead.
07:23 – Relief pitcher Steve Zork warms up on sidelines.
07:43 – Steve Zork called into game, walks out to pitcher’s mound and talks with teammates and manager; Joe Sparks back on sidelines looking on with stressed look while chewing tobacco.
09:02 – Duluth Dukes run onto diamond from dugout as after Zork throws winning pitch.
09:28 – Players celebration in locker room: rowdy cheers, one player sprays champagne over the players.
09:55 – Interior of team bus, players sit side by side in plain clothes as they drive to next destination through the night.
10:28 – Bill Owen sits with players at a diner as the scarf down dinner of burgers, soda.
10:49 – Back on the bus, players sprawled out sleeping in seats, heads knocked back against pillows.
11:53 – POV from bus driver’s seat as bus pulls into parking lot of Wade Municipal Stadium.
12:03 – Lives of the players: scenes from daily life of some of the players that share an apartment – sit for breakfast and read through newspaper, head out for groceries. 12:33 – Players give back by coaching little league clinic: players run outfield drills with young boys from the area on the baseball diamond at the Wade Municipal Stadium.
14:02 – Joe Sparks works with Dan Rourke on becoming a switch hitter, run batting drills out of batting cage on the field.
14:46 – Steve Zork on sidelines seen winding up to throw practice pitches, works on curve ball.
15:46 – Bill Owen speaks to camera from field, scenes of players running through drills in the background, Owen discusses the statistics of how many players will likely make it to the major leagues.
16:34 – Players get dressed from game in home white uniforms in locker room.
17:22 – Sun illuminates the empty green stadium, Bill Owen talks to audience about upcoming game against the Aberdeen Pheasants of Aberdeen, South Dakota — farm team for Baltimore Orioles.
18:02 – Young boy vendor walks through the predominantly empty stands selling refreshments.
18:14 – Game begins, Steve Zork takes to the pitcher’s mound; footage cuts between spectators in the stands, game plays, and manager Sparks in the dugout.
20:16 – Dan Rourke up at bat, hits line drive and speeds toward first base.
21:01 – Bill Owen closing words from pitcher’s mound.
21:30 – Bill Owen presents books by S.H, Freeman and Robert Fitzsimmons on topic of baseball from locker room
21:50 – Credits play over footage of custodians cleaning empty stands after game.


Paul Lundgren

about 11 months ago

Become champion of the internet for a day by figuring out what corner store shows up briefly in this film. It looks a little like maybe the Observation Hill area?

Matthew James

about 9 months ago

I shared this video with some baseball-fan friends but didn't actually scroll down on the post to read this comment. I came back because the location of that store seemed so findable and I just couldn't find it. And when I did, I wanted to save someone else from the frustration it caused me. 

In the end, the necessary clues were all there. You can just make out a 19 in black on a white background on the store door. Sections of East Seventh Street are the only places in Duluth where there is no grass strip between the sidewalk and the street, at least in the older neighborhoods. 

So the answer is 19 E. Seventh St.

A midblock store, which definitely made the process harder. I couldn't find any record of the store name or owner, only that it was constructed as a home in 1919.

Matthew James

about 9 months ago

To add another update to the above, I was discussing this with a friend who pointed out that the existing house on the block is likely the old store. You can usually tell when a store has been converted into a house and this one doesn't look like it has, but the house number matches the number on the store in the film, it was built in 1918 and old aerial photos show that there never was a building in the lot next to it. Further, the wall and railing are identical to those seen in the film. So it seems like it must be the old store.

Matthew James

about 9 months ago

The video shows the store starting at the top of the stairs, which the house above most definitely does not. To provide what is likely the final clarification here, comparing aerial images from 1961 and 2015 seems to show that an extension had been built in front of the house that was later torn down. Figuring out how the house and the store were integrated so that the store could be torn down and the house left in its original 1918 state would seem to require some images that show a better view of the store.

Matthew James

about 2 months ago

Seven months later, while looking at some old Sanborn maps for another post, I found a 1955 plat that shows how the store fit in the with the house. According to the map legend, the D stands for "dwelling" and the S for "store."

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