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After a decade-long pursuit, the Twins got the go-ahead from the state in 2006 for a $522 million stadium paid for mostly by a county sales tax. The team's contribution was about $130 million, and Target Field is set to open in April 2010.
"I told Carl a long time ago, in life you'll be forgiven for everything except one thing: being successful," businessman Irwin Jacobs, a longtime friend and business partner, once said. "People are going to be jealous. You know, he made good, and he did it on his own."
Born poor in Iowa, Pohlad spent many years far from the celebrity culture of professional sports, building a fortune in banking, real estate and other ventures in the Upper Midwest. Following World War II, he and his brother-in-law, Russell Stotesbury, assumed control of a small bank holding company in Minneapolis and slowly built his small empire from there.
A football player at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., who served in the Army during World War II, Pohlad remained active into his 80s before a variety of back, hip and leg ailments made it hard to get around and ultimately impossible to walk.
Even after turning 90, though, he continued to make regular trips to the Metrodome to watch his team play -- often wearing his lucky red socks and stopping by manager Ron Gardenhire's office before games. Jim Pohlad eased into the lead role over the past few seasons.
Though the public largely perceived him as a hard-driving miser, Pohlad and his wife, Eloise, who died in 2003, together donated millions of dollars to charitable causes. They founded the Twins Community Fund, which gave $3.3 million to area charities in 2005.
At a baseball banquet in January 2006, a wheelchair-bound Pohlad unexpectedly announced a $500,000 donation to the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center at the University of Minnesota in honor of Allison, a star outfielder for Minnesota from 1961-70 who died of the brain disease in 1995.
Players often voiced frustration over the payroll, slashed in the late 1990s after the first couple of stadium plans fizzled and the post-championship rebuilding process was scrapped and restarted. But once the Twins developed a core that could compete and baseball's revenue sharing began to increase, Pohlad spent more on salaries and the team won three straight AL Central titles from 2002-04.
With the Twins preparing to trade Johan Santana last winter, the Pohlads approved $151 million and 13 years in new contracts for Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan.
Former general manager Terry Ryan, whose ability to find affordable, productive players was made more difficult by the payroll limits, routinely praised Pohlad for his loyalty. Though the Twins were terrible during Ryan's first six seasons on the job, Pohlad stuck with him and watched Ryan become one of baseball's most respected GMs.
Managers Tom Kelly and Gardenhire also seemed to be big fans -- and friends -- of the owner.
"Whenever you needed something from the boss ... he'd get it done for you," Kelly said at a 2005 ceremony honoring Pohlad's induction into the team's Hall of Fame. "As a manager having the responsibility of entertaining the fans and putting on a good show, you couldn't ask for a better man to go to."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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