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Baseball Road Trips. 2003 Kansas City.

Posted by Devereaux , 05 June 2015 · 831 views

I have been taking baseball trips annually since 2003. I started because I hated the Metrodome, but I keep taking them because they're fun and I like to see other stadiums. On Sunday, June 14 my dad, my brother and his 13-year old son and I are heading to Cedar Rapids and St. Louis.

Nice thing is, even more than the many games I've seen at home, the baseball vacation games stay vivid in my memory. Here are memories from my first road trip...

2003 Kansas City.

To remind you, 2003 was the year after the Twins let David Ortiz walk. The season of Shannon Stewart for Bobby Kielty - Soul Patrol II. The last year of A.J. Pierzynski as the Twins catcher, who led the Twins in WAR. (Joe Mauer was tearing it up in Fort Meyers and New Britain.) The year the Twins finally left Johan Santana in the starting rotation (and he won his last 8 decisions). The first year of getting thumped by the Yankees in the ALDS.

The Twins were 7.5 games behind first, 44-49 when they traded for Stewart at the All-Star break, but by mid-August they had climbed back over .500 and were making a run at the first-place Royals. Two friends and I decided to get on I-35 and drive to Missouri to tailgate and watch Twins baseball played outside on grass.

Friday, August 15. We met Bob Feller that morning in his museum in Van Meter, Iowa, on the way to KC. We got there when the museum was supposed to open, but had to wait to get in because we were told that Feller was telling stories to a reporter about Satchel Paige. Feller talked to us for about 15 minutes. He made sure we knew he was more proud to have served in the military than he was being a Hall of Famer. I learned that Feller was a flamethrowing teenager when he hit the bigs. I still remember reading in one of the old newspapers on display, "You didn't take a toehold with Bob Feller."

Friday evening: First-year Twin Kenny Rogers and the third-place Twins beat rookie Jimmy "Gobble" Gobble and the Royals, 9-2. Hunter and Rivas homered. I can still see Rivas's home run go past me (near third base) over the left field wall. I remember there were loads of other excited Twins fans. The stadium was at capacity because of the buzz about the Royals being in first place. Also, as I recall, there were fireworks scheduled for after the game.

Saturday afternoon, August 16. In 94 degree heat, Kyle Lohse and the second-place Twins beat the Royals 14-5. We were in right field. I was trying to keep score, but the pencil and my sweat made it impossible. I seem to recall our right fielder (Mohr?) ended up in the hospital after the game from heat exhaustion. I specifically recall Torii Hunter scoring after he crashed into the Royals catcher, Mike DeFelice, at home. The catcher went ballistic and ended up throwing things out of the dugout. (Ah, the weird old days.) I am pretty sure the game was broadcast nationally as the the Game of the Week. I remember calling my dad from the stands to ask if Torii was safe, and my dad saying maybe not.

We tailgated before and after the game and met dozens of friendly KC fans. After the game, the parking lot turned into a sea of banners and tents, because it was also the first preseason football game for the Chiefs, who play right next door to Kauffmann Stadium. They were facing, of all teams, Denny Green's Vikings. I said I would go if we could scalp cheap seats, which turned out to be no problem. We were in the nosebleed section, it was still damn hot that evening, and the Vikings lost.

Postscript: The Royals faded badly after the series, and the Twins ended up battling the White Sox for the division, winning by 4 games with a 90-72 record. And I got hooked on road trips.

Hosken Bombo Disco
Jun 06 2015 12:21 PM
Great stuff. Enjoy those road trips.