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FIELD TRIP OF DREAMS

AROUND THE MAJOR LEAGUES IN 49 DAYS


Metrodome
Minneapolis, MN
Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins
June 24, 2003

By Ken Schlapp

I started my day by driving up to see the Roger Maris Museum, which is in his hometown of Fargo, North Dakota.  The Museum is located in the West Acres Shopping Center on 13th Avenue and it was worth the trip.  When you find the location in the mall you are greeted by the flags depicting each of his 61 1961 home runs over the main display case, which also shows a timeline of his career and displaying loads of memorabilia.  They have a theatre with actual seats from Old Yankee Stadium where they show a movie about Maris' baseball history.  And best of all there is no fee to see either the movie or the museum.  In fact, when you get there, it's up to you when to start the movie (provided that nobody was watching it already). There are also two displays in the theatre; the first displays his career stats and the second presents his 1961 home runs on a game-by-game basis. The only downside to the museum is that there is no souvenir stand, but I guess that saved me some money.

After the museum, I headed to the food court for lunch where I found the Rising Bread Co. for a Sierra Smoked Turkey Sandwich.  This sandwich was on potato bread with home made chips, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, and chipolte sauce and was the best sandwich I had in a long time.  It appears that these is a local food chain, but if you are at the Museum, go here for lunch.  You won't regret it!  I do, however, regret that I missed the Maury Wills Museum (because I didn't know about it), which is at the Newman Outdoor Field. This is the home of the Independent League Fargo Red Hawks, where Maury Wills is currently a broadcaster.

From there it was off to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota (just outside of Minneapolis and on Harmon Killebrew Blvd), which is the former site of Metropolitan Stadium.  This was the home of the Twins for 20 Years from 1961 until 1981, when they moved into the Metrodome.  Prior to that they played their games at RFK stadium in Washington, DC as the Washington Senators.  A plaque in the shape of home plate is located on the floor of Camp Snoopy to commemorate the exact location of home plate at Metropolitan Stadium.  Camp Snoopy is an amusement park that is actually located on the inside of the Mall of America because it is so big!  In fact, there is a sign in the mall indicating that 7 Yankee Stadium's could fit inside!  I had a hard time finding the home plate plaque, but after asking an employee of Camp Snoopy where it was, I found it after zigzagging around the rides and game booths.  The employee also helped me find the seat from Metropolitan Stadium that is high up on one of the walls to indicate the spot where Harmon Killebrew hit his 520-foot home run in 1967.  That was a far walk from the home plate plaque and when you put things into perspective from where the two remnants from the old stadium are located, you realize just what kind of mammoth shot that must have been!

OK, I have to admit that I've been delaying my inevitable commentary on the Metrodome.  This is mainly due to the way my mother raised me.  You know, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.  I hate to say it, but this is the bottom of the barrel as far as Baseball Stadiums go. What makes it even harder to pan this place, is that the Twins (especially Glo) have treated me so well in my adventure.   They made sure that I was taken care of with good tickets to the game as well as having all the information that I would need to find my way around the stadium and the city.  I'll take the time here to say "Thank You" once again, but unfortunately, that can't take away the feeling that I was watching the game in a high school gym.  Indoor Baseball on artificial turf is just awful. I'll admit that I've been here several times because my sister used to live in Minneapolis, and I would/will still go several more times because I love Baseball so much, but I still don't like the stadium.  Baseball was meant to be played outdoors on grass and dirt.  At least, most of the newer indoor stadiums have retractable roofs so that the game can be played outdoors whenever possible.

The dome does have some history in its favor though.  The Twins won the World Series here in 1987 and 1991 by taking home field advantage to its maximum.  Both of those series went the maximum 7 games with the home team winning every single game.  Luckily for the Twins, they got to play the 7th game in the Metrodome each time.  In fact, the 7th game in 1991 was one of the most famous World Series games ever.  This was the game where Jack Morris pitched a 10-inning shutout to close out the series against the Braves.  Obviously, the boisterous Twins fans cheers thundering through the dome was a big part of the Twins success in those two years.  I'd also say that the Twins fans were into the game and behind their Twins every time that I have been here.

The Twins also share this stadium with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, so as you walk around the dome you will find plaques commemorating the heroes of both teams.  You will also notice that there is a Jumbotron screen at both ends of the dome, which is mostly to facilitate football, but is still useful so that no matter where you sit, you can get all the information on the screen.  The Twins players that have had their numbers retired are also honored with large banners on the right center field wall near the roof. This section also includes the Twins Championship banners.  However, the Twins championship trophies are located in the fan accommodation section of the stadium, where you would never notice it unless you asked, which I did.

This stadium is famous for its "baggy" in right field, which refers to the plastic covering the retractable stands behind the right field wall.  If a player hits a ball off the "baggy" it is a home run.  Another interesting quirk with the stadium is that if a batted ball hits the roof or the beams supporting it, the ball is still in play.  I was even lucky enough to witness that happen today.  Brian Daubach of the White Sox hit a popup off the roof for a double, when he should have been out on an easy popup!

The game was a pitcher's duel between Esteban Loaiza of the White Sox and Rick Reed of the Twins ending in a 2-1 victory for the Chisox.  First of all, I was just happy to see the Twins without Kenny Rogers starting for the first time on my trip.  I'll also admit that even though I've said that I don't like this stadium, I have been rooting for the Twins the last couple of years.  Mainly to stick it to Bud Selig, by showing that a team can still win with a low payroll when they are properly managed.  Note you can see the Mets and the Orioles to find out that you can spend a lot of money on your team and still fail if you have poor management.  OK, back to the game.  The White Sox got their first run when Daubach scored on a Carlos Lee single in the 2nd after reaching on his dome hit mentioned above.  They added another run in the 6th on a Frank Thomas RBI single, while the Twins managed their only run in the 8th when Kielty scored on a throwing error by Jose Valentine.  Loaiza pitched 8 innings without an earned run for the victory, while Reed pitched 7 solid innings, but the 2 runs he gave up were enough to take the loss.  Billy Koch pitched to one batter (Tori Hunter) in the 9th to pick up a cheapie save.

During the game, the Twins had a few interesting promotions.  In the 3rd inning a pickup truck is driven onto right field, where a fan attempts to throw a tennis ball from the upper deck into the back of the truck for a chance to win the truck (no luck tonight).  In the 6th inning, young children are brought out to change the bases.  I like the fact that these promotions are not all via the electronic scoreboard.  The promotions may be done this way to stave off some competition from the St. Paul Saints of the Independent Northern League, who are very popular in this area.  There is, however, the standard electronic race featuring a fishing race with 3 different color Mr. Magoos competing against each other.

As far as food is concerned, you can get all of the typical baseball foods here.  I got a bratwurst, which was very good.   I'll also have to say that everyone I dealt with at the stadium were very friendly and helpful, and I'm being honest about that and not just trying to find something nice to say. You might also want to get some food at the stands outside the stadium before you go inside.  They have BBQ food as well as grills cooking sausages and dogs that smelled really good.

Finally, I have to add this paragraph for the benefit of my sister Linda who lived in Minneapolis for several years.  When you drive around the country, you can't help but notice the different styles of driving people have in different areas.  Unfortunately, I've found Minnesota the most frustrating place to drive.  It seems to be normal to have the slowest cars driving in the left lane and the faster ones forced to pass on the right. But of course when you try to pass the slow moving car then feels the need to speed up.  This also throws off all the jokes I've made all my life about Jersey drivers.  Now I have to change the jokes to Minnesota drivers.  It's also been uncanny how many times during my weeks of driving since leaving Minnesota that I have gotten frustrated over being stuck behind a slow driver only to find out that they had, you guessed it, Minnesota plates!

Bottom line - The fans are good, the Twins are a good team, and the people are friendly, but the Metrodome is the worst stadium in my opinion to date. Like I said above, it's still good baseball so don't let the Dome stop you from going to games here.

Basic trip facts:
* Stadium # 9
* Old Stadium Sites visited - Metropolitan Stadium (Total - 5)
* Miles traveled - 613 via Car (Totals: Driving - 4,460, Subway - 20, Air - 3,196, Total - 7,676)
* States, provinces and/or commonwealths passed through - South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota  (Totals: States - 18, Provinces - 0,
Commonwealths - 1)
* Seats -Section 134, Row 6, Seat 3 - Field Level by 3rd Base
* Prices: Parking - $4.00, Beer - $5.00, Bratwurst - $3.50, Hot Dog - $3.00 Program (including pencil) - $4.75, Souvenir Soda Cup - 4.00
* Credit Card giveaway - 1961 Twins T-Shirt
* First Pitch -  7:06 PM
* Attendance - 19,229
* Results - White Sox 2, Twins 1,  W - Esteban Loaiza, L -Rick Reed, S - Billy Koch
* Home team record to date - 6 wins, 6 losses
* Record of "team I was routing for" to date - 3 wins, 9 losses
* Lodging - Albert Lea, Minnesota

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