Family photo of the Fredricksons Taken in Northfield, MN 2009.014.039 Gift of Jacqueline Alfonso, In Memory of John E. "Jack" Trip and FamilyReunion Button Metal, plastic and paper 2009.014.001 Gift of Jacqueline Alfonso, In Memory of John E. "Jack" Trip and Family
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On the picture you can see Nels and Emelia Fredrickson and all their grown children. Nels Fredrickson was born in Horsens in 1860. He came to America and settled in Dakota County, Minnesota in 1885. Here he married Norwegian immigrant Emelia Elvistad and they had 18 children where 14 of which were boys. Two of the boys didn’t survive.
The remarkable story about this particular family is the 12 brothers. In 1927 they formed the Fredrickson Brothers Baseball Team. The team became famous even before they had played their first game, because as rare as 12 brothers were, all the more rare was 12 brothers playing baseball on the same team. They became a traveling baseball team playing every Sunday from spring to the first snow. Soon they weren’t just famous for being brothers but also for playing some good and entertaining baseball. Baseball became an escape from their monotonous work at their father's farm in Eidswold, MN. Nels didn’t share this sons joy for the game. Nels was a stern, lanky immigrant and a staunch Lutheran. He was set in his ways and slow to change. He believed that playing baseball on a Sunday was a sin and he and his wife never went to see the boys play.
They didn’t even come to the brothers’ most famous game. On a late summer day in 1929 the Fredrickson Brothers were playing what later would be thought of as the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball, a team called House of David. Most of the players from House of David were members of a religious sect that practiced celibacy and did not eat meat, while the Fredricksons came from a family that strongly believed in propagation. It certainly was a game between two teams of opposites. In the end the Fredricksons had what was needed to beat the famous team. The game ended 4-2 and the brothers could collect a prize of $400. Sadly this was one of their last games because the team broke up after that season. Sibling rivalry and the success had turned the brothers against each other and they had to break up the team. Though the team broke up, the brothers didn’t drift apart. None of them moved farther away then 13 miles of each other.
Even though the Fredrickson brothers' baseball days were over, it didn’t mean that there never would be Fredricksons playing baseball. Today there are over 100 descendants of Nels and Emelia Fredrickson playing youth league and amateur baseball. At the Fredrickson family reunions, where more than 500 Fredricksons attend, there is always a big softball tournament.