Twins Home Openers: 1980. 89 Degrees at Gametime
The Minnesota Twins started the 1980 season with a 12-game west coast road trip and didn't open at Metropolitan Stadium until late in April. I was going to college in Minneapolis at the time and when the day of the home opener dawned warm & sunny, there was no mistaking mother nature's intent for me to go to the ballpark and not my Tuesday classes. [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
A buddy of mine had reached a similar conclusion so, seeing as I had the wheels, (a sweet mint green '73 Nova) we hit Zip's Liquor Store for a cooler of cold ones and Clark's Subs for sustenance and cruised down to Met Stadium for a day of tailgating and Twins baseball.
Temps were already in the 80's and traffic was heavy as every college student in the Twin Cities and half the state workers had been likewise seduced. We inched the last half-mile down Cedar with our windows cranked down and stereos cranked up. We weren't worrying that it was taking forever to get into the Met parking lot, because, hell, it just felt awesome to sit and bake in the sun in the car for a while.
One-by-one, we finally got in, paid our $2 to park and found our way to the grinning Indian sign in the Cleveland section of the lot. Darn racist, we often admitted, but sure easy to spot. We got in line to get tickets ($4 unreserved bleachers behind 3rd base) and went back to the vicinity of the Nova to kibbutz and nosh and quaff. There were already great smells and great sounds and Frisbees everywhere. We opened the trunk, got out the cooler, and set about formally making some toasts. To the weather. The girls in tube tops. Bombo Rivera...
It's about this time that the details start getting less distinct. I recall the Twins started their crafty lefty Geoff Zahn. I don't recall the Angels' starter but in looking it up on Baseball Reference see that it was Dave Frost, who had pitched a 10-inning 4-hitter against the Twins a week earlier in Anaheim.
No such luck for Frost in the rematch. Roy Smalley hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first and Minnesota never trailed after, adding 6 more runs on home runs by Hosken Powell and Ron "Papa Jack" Jackson, a double by Rob Wilfong and base hit by Butch Wynegar. Zahn went the distance, giving up only one run and 6 hits.
I would have tacked onto the end of the previous sentence "sending the 36,268 in attendance home happy" but for the fact that the Twins, not envisioning 90-degree weather on the 22nd of April, grossly underestimated the walk-up sales and the beer supply required, exhausting their supply long before satisfying demand. This, of course, led to friction in the cases of the less-than-adequately lubricated fans. At least those who didn't have the foresight to stop at Zip's.
I've had memorable, enjoyable, drama-filled games at the Metrodome and Target Field that I wouldn't mind reliving but to be 21 and do April 22nd, 1980 over again, would be my favorite, I think.
Postscript: I saw on the box score on Baseball Reference that this game was protested by the Angels. Unless they were miffed by the Twins running out of beer I don't remember why this was. Anyone remember?