WRITER NOTE: This is an excerpt from a story that appears in full on Zone Coverage here.
Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time.
On Saturday afternoon, that place was Bat & Barrel — the restaurant that used to be known as the Metropolitan Club — down the right-field line at Target Field.
Twins players and fans gathered at the stadium for the yearly gathering known as TwinsFest, which caps the club’s winter caravan and begins the road to Spring Training each year. Most of the 40-man roster and a smattering of prospects show up each year to what has to be among the top five or so best fan fests in the game today.
The whole thing is basically a large autograph party, with fun events mixed in where players and fans — especially kids — can mingle on the concourse and surrounding areas of Target Field. Beyond that, it also gives fans a look into the Legend’s and Champion’s Clubs — two exclusive areas that have more restricted access at the stadium.
The Legend’s Club housed food areas, a few games and booths and the WCCO radio setup, while the Champion’s Club housed a large majority of the vendors selling game-used apparel, baseball cards and etc.
Bat & Barrel was set up half as a restaurant, but also a stage for players to take questions from fans or play games with a crowd watching. In this case, it was a quartet of Twins playing Headbandz, a charades game with players teaming up in pairs — Matt Magill with Trevor May and Blake Parker with Kohl Stewart — with a player holding an iPad to their forehead while the other gave clues to the mystery word on the screen.
After Magill and May beat Parker and Stewart, stadium announcer Jim Cunningham said they had a few more minutes left to take some questions from the fans. One kid asked May how he got so good at Fortnite — “Get injured kids, and you’ll have a lot of time for video games.” — and another asked what position each of the players played.
Another humorously asked if he could get autographs from each of the pitchers, but it was the final question that brought the room to a poignant silence.
A young girl got the microphone, and meekly asked Stewart how he handles playing in the big leagues with Type-1 diabetes. Stewart climbed off the stage, knelt down next to the girl and talked to her for a few minutes and took a number of pictures while also signing her jersey.