A direct flight from my new hometown of Saskatoon made Minneapolis an easy choice for my summer baseball trip this year – five games in five days, including being able to squeeze a Sunday afternoon game in ahead of my flight back home. I picked up an assortment of tickets and figured the subpar Twins might allow me to upgrade a few cheap upper deck seats into some better seats over the course of my visit. That strategy worked out quite well, but for game one, I sprung for a legit good seat. Beer in my hand, I settled in for the first of what would be a lot of pitches over the five days.
I had some great folks sitting next to me. A family on a grandfather, father and son baseball trip and were visiting from Washington, DC. They immediately noticed my Expos shirt and apologized for stealing my team. I sat next to the grandfather and for the first couple of innings we traded old Expos stories. He was also a big hockey fan and felt bad for me when he learned I had been a Nordiques fan. That conversation was the backdrop to the Twins getting off to a great start. They pounded the ball all over the park including this nice solid single to left to score a run.
Not too long after, a wicked thunderstorm rolled in. I moved back a few rows to sit under cover to wait out the rain, but there was to be no resumption. Bad news: the big Twins lead vanished as the game was called off with it to be replayed in its entirety as part of a double header the next day. Good news: I was going to get to spend a full day at the park the next day!
I got to the ballpark early on Thursday to roam around a bit before the first game of the doubleheader and got a lot of compliments on my Expos shirt. I had people strike up conversations about Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines during the two games I wore this. I even had a guy on a street corner on the walk to this game point to me and just shout “Rusty Staub!”
What looked like another ominous weather forecast proved wrong and by the time the afternoon game got underway it was a beautiful, if somewhat humid, afternoon for baseball.
With a small crowd, I moved around a bit during this game but stuck to the upper levels of the stadium. I liked this seat, high up behind home, with the skyline of downtown Minneapolis just beyond the right field fence. The view was better than the game. The Twins lost so badly that they put their shortstop in to pitch the final inning.
After a quick return to the hotel to change and to venture off in search of a bite to eat, I was back at the park for the evening game of the double header. As this was the postponed game from the night before, I was back in my legitimate “good seat.”
Although the Twins got absolutely killed in this game, losing 10-2, there were a couple of interesting things about the night. First, because this was a rescheduled game, most folks who had tickets to the original game the night before clearly decided they had better things to do. The announced paid attendence was more than 24,000, but perhaps 4,000 folks actually showed up. By the second inning, they closed the upper deck and invited everyone to just find a good seat down below. It looked like the final days of the Expos in terms of crowd size.
Perhaps only interesting to me and his family, the doubleheader allowed the Twins to call up Andrew Albers from the minor leagues as an extra pitcher. He is from Saskatchewan and due to the blowout and the fact that the Twins got blown out in the earlier game, Albers finished up the game throwing six innings of relief against the Astros. I may have been the only person in the park hanging on his every pitch cheering on a fellow Canadian.
The most fun thing from the night, and owing to the small crowd, I got a chance to meet the Twins mascot T.C. I love, love, love sports mascots and getting my picture taken with him just after the seventh inning stretch was a highlight of the trip for me!
Game three on Friday night featured another rain delay, this time thankfully only an hour in length. The scene of the grounds crew pulling back the tarp made me very happy.
I had purchased a cheap seat for the night, and just before first pitch, this was the scene as the storm clouds pulled away from the area.
Another smallish crowd, and a bit of a persistent drizzle, sent me off in search of a better seat under cover. I found this one in the lower level and was treated to a pretty competitive game. The Twins squandered an early 3-2 lead as Kansas City pulled away late for a 7-3 lead. This seat was so good that I had to dive for cover when a foul ball that just missed the netting whizzed two rows behind me.
After Friday night games in the summer at Target Field, if you hang around post-game, you get treated to a pretty solid fireworks show. It was pretty cool to watch this in a darkened stadium.
I’ve already written about my Saturday night at Target Field – a great game and lucking out to get to watch it from a seat eight rows behind the Twins dugout. At the point this picture was taken, I had a big smile from just watching batting practice from down here. I had no idea I was going to get to stay there for the entire game!
The luxury of a direct evening flight home meant I could check out of the hotel, head to Target Field in the morning, and get to take in an extra ballgame. I was very excited for the pre-game festivities – a mascot softball game. It was hilarious watching mascots trying to play softball.
Truth is, the mascots probably played better than the Twins did on this afternoon. Although the home team got slaughtered for the fourth time on my trip, even an 11-4 blowout loss couldn’t temper my happiness. A beautiful Sunday afternoon, a great seat, and a cold beer in my hand. Not a bad way to cap my visit to Minneapolis.