We purchased tickets to Friday night's Twins Fest as a way to celebrate my Dad's 83rd birthday. Grandpa was accompanied by his two grandsons, ages 10 and 8, my wife and I.
We parked in Lot B, and had only a short walk to Gate 6, where a host of ticket-takers greeted us as if we were walking up to a game. Once inside the gates, we peered out onto a snow-covered Target Field.
It was quite a contrast to the green grass of Opening Day, and the warmth of a mid-summer matinee game. Minnie and Paul were still smiling, as they remained in each other's grip, while snowflakes fell around them.
The snow had been coming down for several hours. We drove through the white stuff all the way from Brainerd to the ballpark. That delayed our arrival by about an hour, which influenced our experience. There was no time to split up and gather Joe Mauer's autograph, our youngest son's hero.
Instead we went directly to Rod Carew's signing station, located on the Service Level (-2). Here are some of my criticisms of the event. First, many fans are not used to navigating Target Field by the elevators, which were almost the exclusive way to move from the enclosed levels. During the season, I don't spend much time on the Service (-2), Club (2) and Suite (3) Levels. During the summertime, I'm outside, and these levels are either off limits, or too pricy for my blood.
The second criticism was the Twins Fest brochure, and it's not-so-user-friendly locations. The first location was on the website. Here is the link to the Twins Fest page
. If you bother to click on the page, try to find the brochure. It is located at the bottom of two alternating pictures. I should say, one of two alternating pictures, so half the time the link to the schedule is not visible.
I tried to print out the map/schedule/brochure, but the ads and the big pictures dwarfed the type on a letter-sized document (my home printer does not load legal sized pages.) The type was too small and unreadable. So, we pre-planned our first two visits--to split up and find Mauer and Carew, and then meet up later to hatch our secondary options.
The second problem was that the maps/brochures/schedules were not located at Gate 6, or just inside the door as we entered the Club Level. We asked a security guard if we cold look at his copy, just to find out where we were, and where Mauer and Carew's respective signing stations were located. He graciously offered us his copy of the brochure/map. Later, we would find scads of these handouts at the elevator entrances, and on various tables. They should have been at the point of entry, and more accessible at home.
My wife forgot her Trevor Plouffe jersey in the car. So she went back for it, and we revised our plan of attack, Grandpa, the two boys and I set out for Carew's signing station.
This is when we had our first stroke of luck. A delightful young lady approached us, wondering if we wanted to play Fan Feud, as part of the "Dozier Family." We were delighted to say "yes!" She handed us a ticket, with instructions to be at the Fox Sports North Stage in the Champions Club at 5:20 p.m.
There was enough time to catch Carew, so we beat cheeks over to his signing station. Dad is a retired preacher, and he sat on stage with #28 back in 1968, the year after Carew's rookie season. The event was a Park Rapids Jaycees Banquet, and Carew was the guest speaker. Dad was asked to give the Invocation and Table Prayer. As they were seated next to each other, Carew leaned over and said to Dad, "You know Reverend, our jobs aren't really that different." To which Dad replied, "Oh? How is that?" Carew: "Well, we both have to pass the plate." Ba-dum-BUM!
Forty-five years later, Dad recalled the story with Carew over the signing table. He retold the joke, and paused so that Rodney Cline could deliver the punch-line, to which they both laughed like the material was still fresh! It was a delightful moment.
By the way, Carew also signed two baseball cards from my treasured possessions. Someday my boys will each receive one.
My ten-year-old son is a big Dozier fan. They have the same May 15th birthday, and both play second base. So it was off to The Champions Club to meet our Plouffe Fan and keep our appointment with Richard Dawson/Kris Atteberry, Dozier, and our competition--Team Diamond, anchored by Scott Diamond, and members of Kyle Knudson's extended family.
We played three rounds of "The Feud" with three questions:
"Name the Most Recognizable Twins Player"
"What do Twins players do after a game?"
"Which team do you like to see the Twins beat?"
Long story short: We won! But perhaps the best moment was in responding to question #1. We were down to our last answer with two strikes, and our eight-year-old was staring into the microphone as Kris Atteberry said, "Only one answer left. To win the round, what is your answer?" Grandpa and I are whispering "Dan Gladden, Dan Gladden!" The boy ignores his elders and says into the microphone, "Justin Morneau" matching the last answer on the board! Team Dozier wins, and we all got cool t-shirts, that our new favorite second-baseman signed (that is, next to Carew, who really turned out to be a first basemen, so that doesn't count, does it?)
We spent the remainder of the evening operating out of a "home base" around the K-Twins Stage. It gave Grandpa a good place to rest his feet while we chased Miguel Sano's autograph, failed to get that Plouffe jersey signed, toured the Twins Clubhouse, and took in a number of other sights not available during a ballgame. I just about bought Jack Morris a beer before he went on stage with Corey Provus.
Perhaps one of the real advantages to the Target Field setting were such up-close encounters with players and personalities like Morris. We routinely walked past legends past and present throughout the hallways. Riding the elevator with Tony Oliva, walking the hallways with Dan Gladden, passing Gardy, greeting Dick Bremer at the door, and on and on. Dozier bumped into his little birthday buddy once more in the hallways, and enthusiastically greeting him with a high five.
In conclusion, it was a good event, a good venue, and I hope the planners keep it relatively small next year. There need to be some logistical tweaks, and perhaps a little less restrictive on autographs. The fees are high, and I suppose this helps to discourage the memorabilia hounds, but for the average family those prices can get steep. All the same... the Twins Community Fund. The fund was instrumental in building our local baseball/softball fields, so it is a good cause that directly benefits our boys. Keep Twins Fest at Target Field. We enjoyed the experience, especially seeing such treasures as this one, below. Here's to Spring, 2014, and the chance for a third trophy... C'mon, at this time of year, Hope Springs Eternal!