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Target Field
Minneapolis, MN
Milwaukee Brewers at Minnesota Twins
May 22, 2010

By Ken Schlapp

Target Field was the first new stadium to open up since I moved to California, meaning I had to fly from the West instead of the East, but I was getting there either way.  The good part about that is that I got to go see this new stadium with my fiancé, Hiroko, considering she was the reason I headed West.  The Twins new stadium opened for the 2010 season, so I had to make sure we made it to a game as soon as possible.  A friend, Dave Dean, from my company’s Chicago office made the decision easy for me.  Although he is a Cubs fan and season ticket holder, he is from Minneapolis and originally was a Twins fan.  He wanted to see the new stadium too, so he arranged for a big outing with his family and friends on Saturday May 22, 2010 to go to a party and then head to the late afternoon game.  The only thing left for me was to arrange my annual business trip to Minneapolis around that game and find an extra workspace for Hiroko.  Piece of cake, I planned my Minneapolis meeting for the Friday before the game and Hiroko came along to work in Minneapolis with me.

The party before the game started at 11:30 AM on Saturday morning at a friend of Dave’s apartment on the 22nd floor of the Loring Green Apartments, which was a great start.  They obtained a block of 100 tickets for the game, so it was a big party with catered food from Famous Dave’s, which was good BBQ food.  Several other friends from our Minneapolis office were at the party and game, which made for a good time.  The views from the apartment balcony of downtown Minneapolis were pretty special too.  After the party, we walked out as a 100-strong group of fans from the apartment to Target Field, which was all of 10 blocks away.  The walk took us down Minneapolis main strip on Nicolette Mall and past the Mary Tyler Moore Statue to take our obligatory Minneapolis photo and then on to the game.

I had high expectations for Target Field and I would not be disappointed.  As soon as we got close to the stadium, I saw the big Target advertisement stating “Outdoor Baseball Starting April 12”, which is an immediate big improvement from the Metrodome.  I know many people from outside of Minnesota think that it is crazy to build a new stadium in Minneapolis without a roof, but the people that live there understand quite well.  It is usually so cold in the winter that people do not spend any time outside.  They go from their heated house to their heated car to their heated jobs, and then reverse the process later.  Once the temperature starts to warm everyone wants to be outside, they do not want to be cooped up inside a dome. My sister Linda used to live in Minneapolis, and she said that sometimes the weather warms up to 20 degrees and people drive their cars with the windows rolled down!  These people do not want to be inside.

In addition, due to my sister, so I have been to many games at the Metrodome, and it is by far the worst stadium I had been to because it felt like you were watching baseball from inside of a high school gym.  The public relations department was so nice to me during my 2003 trip that I felt awful writing bad things about it, but I had no choice.  Now, with Target Field, I can have a lot more fun writing positive things about it.

The next thing I saw after the Target sign was a bronze statue of Rod Carew, who was one of my favorite players growing up.  I will never forget how amazed I was the one year he was on the Angels late in his career when he got a few hits during the Saturday afternoon game that was televised nationally.  The thing I remembered was that those hits improved his batting average to .500 after 102 at bats!  2-4 is a real good day, but Carew effectively started his season doing that 25 times in a row, which is fantastic.  Aside from that, the crowd was buzzing with excitement on the outside as we entered into the new stadium.  From the outside, you can see the limestone exterior, which fits in nicely in the Warehouse section of Minneapolis’ downtown area.

Since we came to the stadium with a big group after the party, we did not have a lot of time before the game to take my traditional loop around the stadium from both the inside and outside prior to the start of the game.  Hiroko would have to wait until the end of the game for me to drag her around for me to see every corner of the stadium.  We just took a quick walk around to get to our seats on the second level in left field. 

After we entered, I learned a unique thing about Target Field, which was how they number the entrance gates.  Unlike other stadiums that simply number (or alphabetize) the gates in order, the gates are named by the uniform number that some of their past stars wore.  We were lucky enough to walk in through Gate 29 in right field where the Carew statue was.  I was already so impressed that a team that has been around only one more year than the Mets embraces their team history in their new stadium so much more than my team does in theirs.   The remaining gates are numbered as follows:

-Center Field - # 3 – Harmon Killebrew
-Left Field - # 6 – Tony Oliva
-Home Plate - # 14 – Kent Hrbek (including a bronze statue of Hrbek too)
-Target Plaza - #34 – Kirby Pucket

In our quick walk around the concourse, it was easy to notice that there is plenty of room to walk to your seats, the restrooms, concession and/or souvenir stands.  Even better than that you can see the field clearly while you are doing all of those things.  The standing room only seats are built right for standing and watching, so you miss as little of the game as possible.  We were so full from all the food at the party that I did not really pay attention to what is served in the concession stands or how much it costs.  However, I do know that they do serve some local favorites, such as walleye, wild rice soup, Kramarczuk’s sausage, and various state fare type foods, like pork on a stick.  I did some research to learn that the Town Ball Tavern on the upper concourse is famous for its Jucy Lucy burger and has the wood flooring from the basketball court of the Minneapolis Armory, which is where the Minneapolis Lakers and George Mikan used to play.  The upper concourse also has two bars called Twins Pubs that only serve beverages.  The unique thing about one of the Twins Pubs is that you can watch the Twins organist, Sue Nelson, play during the game.  I love that they still have a traditional organist during a game.

Once we settled into our seats in left field, I took notice of how all the seats were dark green except for the second level seating right behind home plate, which is yellow.  I am not sure why they are yellow, but it does help the “Welcome to Target Field” sign directly behind home plate stand out.  Looking out behind the right field wall, I noticed that the famous Twins logo of Minnie & Paul stands out huge over another Target Field sign.  What I have learned about this logo is that it is a tribute to the two minor league teams, which existed in the twin cities prior to the Twins arrival in 1961.  Those two teams were the Minneapolis Millers and the St Paul Saints.  In addition, Minnie and Paul are wearing the uniforms of those two former teams, while shaking hands over the Mississippi River that divides them.  During games, the Minnie & Paul logo also do some interesting things:

-The strobe lights around the logo light up in counterclockwise order when the Twins score a run to signify that they made it all the way around the bases
-The four corners light up when the Twins strike someone out to highlight the strike zone
-The lights flash after the top of an inning if the Twins do not give up a run
-When a Twins player hits a home run, Minnie and Paul shake hands while the lights signify the flowing of water down the Mississippi between them
-When the Twins win the T and S on the sign blink to display a Twins Win message

From our left field seats, we had a close view of the retired numbers hanging from below the Budweiser Roof Deck.  Those numbers are the same 5 that the gates are in honor of; # 3 Harmon Killebrew, # 6 Tony Oliva, # 14 Kent Hrbek, #29 Rod Carew, # 34 Kirby Puckett, plus # 42 for Jackie Robinson.  The Budweiser Deck also has a bonfire, which will not be found in any other stadium.  Our seats also gave us a good view of the stacked bullpens beyond the left field wall and the black spruce trees in the center field batters eye.  I find it interesting to note that the trees were removed the following season because the players felt that they were distracting on windy days.

The flagpole beyond the right field wall is the same flagpole that was in Metropolitan Stadium, where the Twins played prior to the Metrodome.  It is great that they used the same flagpole for both of their outdoor stadiums.  Home Plate is the same home plate that was used in the Metrodome, so in one way or another, the Twins pay homage to both of their former stadiums.  On the upper rim of the stadium in left field, the Twins display all of their championship banners since 1961 in order of Division, Pennant, and World Championships.  In right field, there are flags for each of the teams within the division in order of the current standings.  On this day, the Twins flag came first, which made their fans quite pleased.

Once it was time for the game, Hiroko and I were sitting next to my friend and coworker, Mike Helmer.  Mike was also there with his wife and children and specifically, Mike’s son Joe made me laugh at the outset of the game when he was goofing on the Twins starting pitcher Kevin Slowey.  He said his name might as well be Joe Hanging Curve ball for all it signifies and that it was the worst baseball name he ever heard of.  I will certainly never forget that line. 

After all that goofing, Slowey actually pitched a 1, 2, 3 1st inning.  The Brewers starting pitcher, Yvani Gallardo, did not fare quite as well.  Orlando Hudson (the O Dog) reached on a one-out single to get things going.  Joe Mauer followed him up with a single, as did Justin Morneau, which plated the O Dog for the game’s first run.  Michael Cuddyer then doubled to knock in Mauer, then Jason Kubel was intentionally walked, and Delmon Young was walked unintentionally with the bases loaded to bring in Morneau with the 3rd Run.  A sacrifice fly by Trevor Plouffe would close out the scoring in the first, but not before the Twins would build a 4-0 lead.

After the game got going, I took notice of the out-of-town scoreboard, which is similar in detail to the two Pennsylvania stadiums.  Meaning that you can see a diamond that displays which bases have runners, how many outs there are and the inning and score of the game at all times.  The only difference is that this scoreboard is 100% digital and does not look quite as nice.  The giant screen over center field provides all the needed lineup and in-game details, and replays when needed, which is all good and fine.  It is a nice scoreboard, but nothing special.  What is special about the stadium though is the beautiful city skyline beyond the outfield.  It is hard to describe how much nicer this view is than the view of the white ceiling and baggy in right field that existed in the Metrodome.

Back from my stadium introspection, nothing else exciting happened until the top of the 5th, when George Kottaras had an RBI single off Slowey to drive in Joe Inglett, who had doubled, to get the Brewers on the board, which made me feel at least slightly justified for wearing my old school Brewers cap.  Corey Hart homered in the 6th to bring the Brewers within 2 and knock Slowey out of the game after giving up 2 runs in 5.2 innings with 6 hits, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts.  After a rough start, the Brewers starting pitcher, Gallardo, shut out the twins for his last 5 innings and finished the game with 6 innings, 4 runs, 6 hits, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts.

Marco Estrada came in to pitch the bottom of the 7th for the Brewers and was greeted harshly by the Twins.  The O Dog got things started again with a single and a theft of 2nd base before scoring on an RBI double by Mauer.  After walks to Morneau and Kubel loaded the bases, Young came through with an RBI groundout to bring the Twins lead back to 4 at 6-2.  Neither team would score in the 8th, but the Brew Crew came back in a big way in the top of the 9th.  Ron Mahay started on the mound for the Twins.  Jody Gerut (of CitiField fame) greeted him with a single before he walked both Escobar and Kottaras and was replaced by super tall Jon Rauch.  Rauch did not fare any better.  Rickie Weeks plated 2 Brewers with a double before Carlos Gomez did the same with a single to tie the game up at 6 all.  Ryan Braun then lined into a double play to seemingly end the Brewers threat, but a walk to Prince Fielder (he had 4 in the game) and an RBI double to Casey Mcgehee put the Brewers on top 7-6 going into the bottom of the 9th,

The Brewers brought in Carlos Villanueva to close out the game since closer Trevor Hoffman was struggling.  Morneau promptly smacked a double off him.  Cuddyer followed with a single, but the big blow then came from Young (who ended up with 3 RBI on separate occasions with only one hit), who hit a ground rule double to tie the game back up at 7 and leaving runners on 2nd and 3rd with only one out.  The Brewers then intentionally walked pinch hitter Jim Thome, which apparently settled down the Breweres hurler as he struck out Nick Punto and got Denard Span to fly out to right to send the game into extra innings.

The Brewers went down meekly in the 10th, while the Twins loaded up the bases again, but could not score.  Neither team reached base in the 11th, but the Twins finally came through in the bottom of the 12th.  Manny Parra walked Alex Cassilla, Mauer singled (for his 4th hit of the game), and Morneau walked to load the bases once again.  After Cuddyer grounded into a 6-2 force out, Kubel came through to win the game 8-7 with a sacrifice fly to right.  Wjat an exciting game!

After the game, I did subject Hiroko to my traditional walk around the stadium, which was fun, because we enjoyed Target Plaza with other fans.  Target Plaza is another section of Target Field where the Twins honor their history.  Along the pedestrian sky bridge, there is a pennant for each season in Twins history with the roster of the players for each season as well as pennants for all members of the Twins Hall of Fame.  There are statues of former players Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew (which we saw earlier), Kent Hrbek, and Harmon Killebrew as well as former owners Calvin Griffith, Carl Pohlad and his wife, Eloise Pohlad.  There is also a Monument depicting all of the venues that the Twins called home.  Lastly, there is a Giant Golden Glove on display, which recognizes every Twin that has ever won a Gold Glove.  Hiroko and many other fans stopped here to take a photo with the Golden Glove. 

One final highlight for us was the statue of Joe Mauer outside the stadium depicting newspaper-like captions of the 1987 season all over the statue.  I learned that there were 50 similar statues throughout Minneapolis, representing one statue for each season of Twins history.  This was similar to the Cows on Parade that were in other cities like New York and Chicago, but this time it was a baseball player, which in my mind is of course much better!

Bottom line – Overall, it was a great day with Hiroko, a party on the roof, an exciting extra-inning game, and a beautiful new stadium.  I am very happy that the Twins no longer play at the Metrodome and now have an outdoor venue their fans can enjoy.

Basic trip facts:
-Stadium  - # 39
-Old Stadium Sites visited – None (Total – 39)
-Under construction Stadium Sites visited – None (Total – 3)
-Miles traveled – 58 via Driving and 4,158 via Air (Totals: Driving – 19,955, Subway - 101, Amtrak – 460, Air - 22,186, Total – 42,702)
-States, provinces, Districts and/or commonwealths passed through – Minnesota (Totals: States – 48, Provinces – 2, Districts – 1, Commonwealths - 1)
-Seats – Field between home and 3rd base
-Prices: I did not track them
-Credit Card giveaway –  None
-First Pitch -  3:10 PM
-Results: Twins 8 – Brewers 7 (12 inn), W – Jessie Crain, L – Manny Parra, S – None
-Home team record to date – 28 wins, 21 losses
-Record of “team I was routing for” to date – 20 wins, 29 losses
-Attendance –  39,152
-Lodging – Home 

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