My last night in Minneapolis got off to a less than stellar start. As I left my hotel to walk to Target Field for my fourth baseball game in four days, a man walking toward me punched me. In fairness, he was suffering from something and staggering as he walked toward me and likely in his mind thought I was trying to block his walking path. His punch connected with my arm and I was more stunned than hurt. When I got to the ballpark about fifteen minutes later, I had mostly forgotten about that incident because it was a beautiful night for baseball. I grabbed a Minnesota craft beer and took up a seat for batting practice right down by the field. Little did I know what else I was in for this night.
A few sips into that delicious beer, I struck up a conversation with Ann, the usher in the section for the night. We talked about the Twins, about four guys she met earlier in the season from Regina (she was the first person I met on the trip who had a reasonable idea where Saskatoon was), and about baseball and the beautiful stadium. She asked me where I was sitting that night and I pointed up to a section in the upper deck on the third base side. She shook her head “no” and asked me if I’d like to stay down here by the field for the game.
With a bit of a dance to escape the other ushers checking tickets after batting practice, and making sure I came back down just before game time where she was checking tickets, she showed me to a seat eight rows behind the Twins dugout. I’ve seen a lot of baseball in my life, and outside of sneaking down into an empty seat in Montreal during the last days of the Expos, I’ve never had such a great seat for a game. In a word – perfect.
There are amazing things you see and hear in seats like this. First, the vendors are better down here. Hotdog Mark must sell ten times the hotdogs than his competitors with his flair of mustard and ketchup pouring and his elaborate routine of getting your hotdog ready for you. His charisma actually had me watching him and not the game while he was in my section.
From eight rows back, you also see the speed and the nuance of the game. The break on the pitches, the flinch of muscles. Even the act of a batter trying to beat out a ground ball to first takes on a new appearance from down here.
It really was a perfect night for baseball. The temperature was a comfortable 25°C, only a light breeze, and the Twins offered up their best game of my visit. They got killed in the games so far on this trip, but tied up at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, back to back home runs gave them their eventual margin of victory.
Eddie Rosario went deep, then Brian Dozier came up next and hit an absolute bomb to deep left into the second deck. I’m not a fan of either team, but it was nice to celebrate with the home fans and feel the energy in a full park on a Saturday night. I was so close, it felt like I was going to get a chance to give Dozier a high-five after he crossed the plate.
Sitting in a beautiful ball park on a perfect evening, a cold beer in your hand, when the home team is in the lead is one of life’s simple pleasures. Even better when you get to sit in a prime seat rather than in an upper deck seat closer to the top of the stadium.
The Twins kept things interesting in the ninth, giving back one run and allowing the tying runs to get on base before their closer struck out the last batter to end the game. The perfect seat, a perfect night, and a home team win. Ann, who stopped by a few times during the game to make sure all was well, demanded my phone from me so she could take this picture. Pretty easy to explain that smile on my face. After the last out, I gave Ann a big hug to thank her for the seat and for a great night.