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  • My First and Only Game at the Met


    tshide

    It was 1977, Jimmy Carter had just become President. New York City celebrated the opening of the World Trade Center and suffered through a 25-hour blackout in the middle of a hot summer. Two guys named Steve (Jobs and Wozniak) gave us the Apple II computer.

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    The Vikings were beaten by the Raiders in the Super Bowl and Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown. In the movie theaters we were introduced to Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Rocky Balboa. We also lost the King, Elvis Presley.

    But for one 14-year old kid from North Dakota the highlight of the year was a 19-12 Twins win over the White Sox in Metropolitan Stadium. This was my first and only trip to the Met. The Twins had a pretty good team, led by Rod Carew, Larry Hisle, Lyman Bostock and 20-game winner Dave Goltz. The game was played on Sunday, June 26th and the promotion was Carew's jersey day.

    From the farm to the big city

    I made the trip with my parents and two of my sisters, ages 15 and 11, from eastern North Dakota to Bloomington, home of Met Stadium. My mother was a native of Mahtomedi, Minnesota so I know that we had other things on the agenda for this trip that included visiting family and friends. However, I was so caught up in seeing a Twins game I have no memory of anything outside of the ballpark and game.

    Our hometown is in the Red River valley, near Grand Forks, with a population of about 1,200 people. I was a farm kid, so at the time I was bit overwhelmed by the "big city" and spent a lot of time with my mouth open looking up. My sisters would tell you they were more sophisticated and not fazed by it all, but I know better.

    Thanks to Baseball-Reference I can look at the box score for this game and jog my memory about some specifics of the Twins' 19-12 win. But the game was just part of a crazy day full of events experienced by a family out of their element in the Twin Cities.

    As we walked into the stadium we were handed a crisp, white Twins #29 jersey with Carew on the back. This became my prize possession as Rodney was my favorite player at the time. It would be nice to say that I still have the jersey, as it would be a great keepsake. But when I was a kid, if you had a jersey with the name and number of your favorite player, you wore it. And wear it I did. So much so that it did not survive long enough for me to outgrow it. The two jerseys my sisters received are long gone as well although they did not prize theirs nearly as much as I did mine.

    My next vivid memory is of walking into Met Stadium, looking through the opening and out onto the field. I couldn't believe the green grass, the white, straight foul lines and what seemed to me a massive stadium. I couldn't wait to get to my seat.

    The heat takes a toll

    At this point circumstances delayed our arrival to our assigned seats. It was one of those hot, muggy afternoons in Minnesota; the box score listed the game time temperature at 87 degrees. The game was a sell-out, so the combination of the weather and all the people made the stands a hot and cramped place.

    Here is where it gets interesting. My 11 year old sister, who probably had not eaten much if anything leading up to the game, was overcome by the heat and fainted. My father had to scoop her up and carry her into the stadium. Doing the math on my father's age in June 1977 put him at 51 years old, ironically the same age that I am now. My dad was a strong man, about 6-feet tall and worked a lot of physical labor during his life as a farmer. But at this time of his life, to say that he did not take care of himself and was not physically fit would be an understatement. So picture near 90 degree weather, humidity, a crowded stadium, and a 51-year-old man carrying an 11-year-old girl. Add to that, the pack of cigarettes my father had already polished off earlier in the day. A certain recipe for disaster. So it should be no surprise that my father got heat stroke and needed medical attention himself.

    My mother, being the even-tempered one in group, managed to find some security people, who in turn got my father and younger sister to the first aide room. The air conditioned room did wonders for my dad and sister. The medical staff put some fluids into my sister and got her back on her feet. They got my dad cooled off and I'm certain something was said to him about it not being a good idea to smoke on such a hot, muggy day.

    I was certainly concerned for the well-being of my sister and father, but at the same time I was a selfish 14-year old whose main concern was getting inside the ball park and finding my seat. So I was happy to see the two of them bounce back. We got to our seats in plenty of time.

    Finally, the game

    We had great seats, directly behind home plate, about 20 rows up. Whenever my dad attended a game he wanted to have the best seats. I inherited that trait from him. I did not know this until just a few weeks ago but our seats were actually compliments of one of my dad's best friends, a man he served in the navy with during World War II. This man and his wife were also responsible for getting my parents together. So I am eternally grateful to him for helping to make this memory possible, and for making ME possible.

    I learned of this and several other tidbits from this trip thanks to a letter given to me by one of my other sisters. She was working in New York that summer, this letter was written by my mother on June 29, 1977. It reviewed all our activities over the course of our three day trip. As mentioned above, I forgot about everything except for the game.

    The White Sox and Twins entered the game tied for first in the AL Central, with the Sox at 38-30 and the Twins 39-31. Bill Butler made the start for the Twins that day and future Cy Young winner Steve Stone took the hill for the visitors.

    There were a few interesting personalities on the field that day. Besides Carew, there were two other members of the Hall of Fame in uniform. Bob Lemon, a 207-game winner for the Indians in the 40's and 50's, was the Chicago manager. Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League was the third base coach for the Sox.

    The scoring started quickly with the Twins leading 2-1 after one inning. In the second inning, after Butler held Chicago scoreless the Twins put up six runs to take the lead 8-1. Carew plated two runs with a single and three batters later Glenn Adams hit a grand slam. That ended the day for Stone.

    In the third inning the White Sox chased Butler from the game, getting four runs when Lamar Johnson and former Twin Eric Soderholm hit home runs. Two more runs were scored against Butler's replacement, Tom Johnson, so in the middle of the third the Twins were up 8-7. I was happy to see Johnson in the game as he was my favorite Twins pitcher that year.

    The lead swelled to 12-7 at the end of three as the Twins managed four runs on four singles and a walk. The White Sox got one in the fourth and two more in the fifth to counter the Twins' three-run fourth. After the Twins had their first scoreless inning in the bottom of the fifth their lead was 15-10.

    Record days for Carew and Adams

    Johnson settled in and retired 11 of the next 12 batters to shut the door on the visitors from Chicago. But with the game no longer in doubt there was still some drama unfolding on the field. Adams, a part time outfielder, in right field this day, was having a career game. He doubled in two runs in the first, hit the grand slam in the second, singled home another run in the third giving him seven RBI on the day. In the bottom of the seventh he came to the plate with the bases loaded, his sacrifice fly scored Carew and set the single game standard for runs batted in by a Twin with eight, a mark he shares today with Randy Bush.

    Carew had come into the game hitting .396 on the season. He came up for the final time in the bottom of the eighth. On the day he had already managed three hits in four at-bats - a double in the first, a two-run single in the second, a run-scoring ground out in the third, and a single in the fourth that scored a run. He also walked and scored in the seventh. This would be his last plate appearance of the day. As it turned out, it was the last time I saw him hit in person because it would be the late 80's before I got to another Twins game.

    With the 3-4 effort Carew's average was right at .400 or .401 for the season. A hit would put him over .400 and an out would put him under. Everyone in the stadium wanted to see Rodney end the game over the magical .400 plateau. His average was at .444 after the second game of the season on April 10. But a 0-5 showing in the second half of a doubleheader that day dropped him to .286; it had taken him 69 games to get back to .400. Adding to that, he had already scored four runs in the game, if he managed to cross the plate again the five runs would be a Twins' record.

    Carew did not disappoint. He not only got his fourth hit, but it was a home run. The two RBIs gave him six for the day and the five runs in a game still holds up today, since tied by Tim Tuefel in 1983, Paul Molitor in 1996 and Luis Rivas in 2002. It is interesting that all of these players played a lot of second base in their careers. Carew and Molitor were not playing second when they set the record but they both came into the majors at that position.

    Why did I have to get that hot dog?

    So where was I when Carew hit this home run? Well, as much as I love baseball, and the Twins, you cannot get between a growing 14-year old and his appetite. I thought I could dash up to the concession stand after the Twins batted in the 7th inning, get myself a hot dog and return before the Twins' turn at bat in the eighth. Needless to say I got stuck in line and the top of the eighth turned into the bottom of the eighth. I soon heard the thunderous ovation while the Twins were batting. I was curious what it was. As I got back to my seat my dad was waiting for me with a big grin on his face. "Did you see the home run?" He says. Followed by, "How was the hot dog?"

    There were no TV's in the concourse in those days like there are now so I was clueless. I could not believe I missed seeing the Carew home run. I learned my lesson that day, when I'm at a ball game I will most often stay in my seat from first pitch to final out (barring emergencies of course).

    The White Sox got two in the ninth off Johnson to make it 19-12. Besides the big days for Carew and Adams, Butch Wynegar was 3-4 with three runs and an RBI. Smalley and Mike Cubbage each had a pair of hits. Johnson had an interesting line as the winning pitcher: six and two-thirds innings, ten hits and seven earned runs.

    Johnson went on to win 16 games out of the bull pen that season. Adams finished 1977 with a .338 average in platoon duty on 290 plate appearances. Carew kept his average over .400 for the next 12 games, falling below for good after a July 11 game against his future team, the Angels, in Anaheim. He would finish at .388 and win the AL MVP award.

    By defeating the Sox the Twins broke the first place tie in the AL West. They held the lead until July 2, when they lost to the White Sox in Chicago. After holding at least a share of the division lead since April 30 the Twins managed to get back into first place on August 12, flipping between first and second until August 16. From that point they finished the season 16-26, giving them a record of 84-77 and a fourth-place finish behind the West champion Royals (102-60), the Rangers and White Sox.

    Going back home

    After the game it was back to the farm, where the days were hot and the mosquitoes big and hungry. I got back to the business of driving my big brother crazy by breaking most of the equipment on the farm. It's no wonder I went into computers. The summer ended quickly as it always did. But the rest of the season I could listen to the game on the radio and picture myself sitting behind home plate watching the game.

    This ended up being the last real family adventure I was able to take part in with my siblings and parents. Before the next year ended my mother had passed way, then my sisters and I got busy with high school, then college, then families and careers of our own. I cannot remember the next Twins game I saw in person, but it was at the 'Dome, either in 1987 or 1988. Around the year 2000 I was finally able to find the time to get to ball games on a regular basis. Since then I have been able to attend several games each year.

    I may not ever see another game like that 19-12 contest from back in 1977 but I do know I won't miss another big home run because of a hot dog.

    Game photos from my father

    All the photos with this post were taken by father, William J. Shide (1925-1995). He loved baseball, his big family and his many hobbies, one of which was photography. However, it was my mother, Helen Shide (1925-1978) that really fostered my interest in baseball and the Twins. She was a Twin Cities girl, she told me about this team in her home town that played baseball, she also helped me organize my baseball cards. I believe it was her idea to take the three "little kids" (that was the term of endearment our six siblings bestowed on us) to the big city to see my favorite team.

    Want to see images from the game? View the gallery here.

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    Thanks for the great article.  And your mother must have been a looker, as us White Bear guys found, all the lookers lived on the other side of the lake in Mahtomedi.  Just like the fish bit better on that side of the lake.  I loved to troll just outside the docks over there.  The scenery was breathtaking! 

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    Thank you Halsey Hall. 

     

    One thing I found by reading through my sister's letters from my mother was that we spent Friday and Saturday night in White Bear Lake.   We also spent time visiting my grandmother's house in Mahtomedi and I caddied for my dad and his friend from the navy (the guy that got us the tickets) at a golf course in White Bear Lake.

     

    The way I understand it, my dad's friend and his wife were friends with my mother going back to the early days in Mahtomedi.   My dad was a North Dakota farm kid entering the navy in WWII and became friends with this guy from Minnesota.   They returned home after the war and this guy introduced my dad to my mother.  My dad took over the farm from my grandfather and my mother made the transition from the Minnesota lakes to a ND farm wife.   My dad's friend married and settled in White Bear Lake.   It has been a couple years since anyone in my family has heard from them, but at that time he and his wife were still living in White Bear.

     

    I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

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    Small world.  My dad, from St Paul, met my mother, who lived in both St Paul and White Bear in high school.  When coming home when the war ended on a train he was sitting next to a farm kid from North Dakota also coming home from the war.  They hit it off and my Dad asked him to be the best man in his wedding.  He accepted and did that for them and ended up marrying my mothers best friend and bridesmaid from White Bear.

     

    My Dad passed five years ago, and his wife about the same.  He lives in Sarasota, and keeps in touch with my Mother in Ft Myers.  We are putting her into assisted living next week.  A hard thing to do, for sure.

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    Small world.  My dad, from St Paul, met my mother, who lived in both St Paul and White Bear in high school.  When coming home when the war ended on a train he was sitting next to a farm kid from North Dakota also coming home from the war.  They hit it off and my Dad asked him to be the best man in his wedding.  He accepted and did that for them and ended up marrying my mothers best friend and bridesmaid from White Bear.

     

    My Dad passed five years ago, and his wife about the same.  He lives in Sarasota, and keeps in touch with my Mother in Ft Myers.  We are putting her into assisted living next week.  A hard thing to do, for sure.

    Your father's story is very similar to mine, it is a small world, especially here in the midwest.  I wish you well with your mother and hope she makes an easy transition to assisted living, i know it is a hard thing to do and you have my sympathies.

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    LOVE these stories and photos.  Thank you both.

     

    I wish I had some distinct memories of trips to the Met & "big city" but most of my recollection are just vague impressions

    Vague impressions are better than nothing, had it not been for this one trip I would have never made to a major league game until I was an adult.   Thanks for checking out this article.

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    Great article. Loved the stories. It made me start looking through bbref for details of my one game at the Met. My recollections are as vague as JB_Iowas, except I remember sitting in LF, and seeing Billy Martin kicking dirt at second base before getting kicked out of the game. I always thought he was coaching the Twins at the time, but now I see I was wrong, since he coached them in 1969 before I was born. It must have been between 1980-1982, when I was between 6 and 8. Bbref doesn't seem to have manager ejections listed though. It would be fun to pinpoint the exact game.

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    You appear great at googling 1977, because I doubt you remember Jobs and Wozniak from then.  What you should remember is that it was the Summer of Sam, and that seemingly every celebrity died that year.  When I think of 1977, I remember Elvis and Bing dying and the Twins big year, which ended up being about huge years from individual players.  I remember that Sunday afternoon at my dad's apartment in Fridley, listening to Herb call the game, and how excited I was because we'd ended 1976 so well--I thought we had a chance.  

     

    Besides all the stud seasons from Carew, Hisle, Bostock, and Goltz, what I remember most about that season is Glenn Adams and Rich Chiles joining the team (Adams big year), Tom Johnson winning a boatload of games, Geoff Zahn and Paul Thormodsgaard (sp?) being iron men, and at the very beginning of the season I think it was Mike Pazik and Don Carrithers getting into an accident and losing their seasons.  To me at a young age, I had held high hopes for Pazik that year.  The way I remember it, he had started out on fire, and then his season (and maybe the Twins') went up in smoke because some woman went the wrong way on an exit ramp or something.  No googling. :-)

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    I believe I went to another game during that series. My wife was pregnant with our first child and it was really warm. I recall the Twins winning the game and Carew making a fantastic play on a slow roller to first. Yes, I thought the Twins were on their way that summer. Carew was having a season for the ages, several guys were going very well including Bostock and Hisle, and Mauch was managing his his talent admirably.

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    You appear great at googling 1977, because I doubt you remember Jobs and Wozniak from then.  What you should remember is that it was the Summer of Sam, and that seemingly every celebrity died that year.  When I think of 1977, I remember Elvis and Bing dying and the Twins big year, which ended up being about huge years from individual players.  I remember that Sunday afternoon at my dad's apartment in Fridley, listening to Herb call the game, and how excited I was because we'd ended 1976 so well--I thought we had a chance.  

     

    Besides all the stud seasons from Carew, Hisle, Bostock, and Goltz, what I remember most about that season is Glenn Adams and Rich Chiles joining the team (Adams big year), Tom Johnson winning a boatload of games, Geoff Zahn and Paul Thormodsgaard (sp?) being iron men, and at the very beginning of the season I think it was Mike Pazik and Don Carrithers getting into an accident and losing their seasons.  To me at a young age, I had held high hopes for Pazik that year.  The way I remember it, he had started out on fire, and then his season (and maybe the Twins') went up in smoke because some woman went the wrong way on an exit ramp or something.  No googling. :-)

    You have a good memory.  However, I did know who the two Steves were back then, I was just as much a computer geek as a baseball fan.   My older brother had moved home in 1976 to run the family farm and bought one of the first Apple II computers.  He taught me the basics of programming, that is how I started. So Jobs and Woz were as familiar to me as Carew and Hisle.

     

    I also remember the "Sam" story out of NY that you mention above but did not want to mention it in this article.   At the time I had an aunt and uncle and three first cousins that lived in Yonkers, NY; they kept us up to date on a regular basis that summer.   My sister was also working in NY as a governess in the summer of '77 so as a family we were very concerned about what was happening there.

     

    Prazik and Carrithers are two guys that I had not remembered so thank you for mentioning them here.   Baseball-reference has them incorrectly mentioned as still being alive today.   I'd be interested in hearing more about what happened to them if you know any more.

     

    I also have fond memories of Herb Carneal.   I listened to him and the various different partners he had from 1973 until until he left the Twins' broadcast.   Thanks for sharing your memories of '77, I enjoy hearing other people's reflections from that time.

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    I believe I went to another game during that series. My wife was pregnant with our first child and it was really warm. I recall the Twins winning the game and Carew making a fantastic play on a slow roller to first. Yes, I thought the Twins were on their way that summer. Carew was having a season for the ages, several guys were going very well including Bostock and Hisle, and Mauch was managing his his talent admirably.

    I really thought the Twins would make the playoffs that year, especially after seeing this game.  

     

    Speaking of attending a game with a pregnant wife, my own wife reminded me the other day of the Twins/Royals game I brought her to when she was 8 months pregnant.   The middle of August in Kansas City and eight months pregnant, not a good combination, but we made it through the game and had a healthy boy three weeks later.   The Twins even won, I remember both Mauer and Morneau homered, it was back in 2006.

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    Great article. Loved the stories. It made me start looking through bbref for details of my one game at the Met. My recollections are as vague as JB_Iowas, except I remember sitting in LF, and seeing Billy Martin kicking dirt at second base before getting kicked out of the game. I always thought he was coaching the Twins at the time, but now I see I was wrong, since he coached them in 1969 before I was born. It must have been between 1980-1982, when I was between 6 and 8. Bbref doesn't seem to have manager ejections listed though. It would be fun to pinpoint the exact game.

    Maybe Billy was coaching the other team?  He was managing the A's from 1980-82.  I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

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    Really enjoyed this. Thanks! I found a Carew Twins jersey a few years ago in a Goodwill in Iowa. I've wondered if it is the real deal or a reasonable facsimile of the type of jersey you got that day. 

     

    Really enjoyed this. Thanks! I found a Carew Twins jersey a few years ago in a Goodwill in Iowa. I've wondered if it is the real deal or a reasonable facsimile of the type of jersey you got that day. 

     

    Really enjoyed this. Thanks! I found a Carew Twins jersey a few years ago in a Goodwill in Iowa. I've wondered if it is the real deal or a reasonable facsimile of the type of jersey you got that day. 

    That is interesting, somewhere on the jersey would be the sponsor for the promotion, I can't remember who the sponsor was.   It certainly was not an authentic jersey but it was much better quality than a t-shirt.

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    Great story, tshide! I'm a couple years older than you and have been a Minnesota resident and Twins fan all my life and I remember that game, too! And I was at one of the Twins game shortly after that game when Carew was still hovering either side of .400 and the atmosphere was electric every time he batted. As I recall, the Twins had a great offense that year, but the pitching just couldn't keep them in there at the end. But Bostock, Hisle and Carew had great years!

    Thanks Eagle Eyes, looking back now I feel very lucky that the only game I attended as a child was so memorable.   As an adult I've attended approximately 50 games and none have come close that this one.

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    That is interesting, somewhere on the jersey would be the sponsor for the promotion, I can't remember who the sponsor was.   It certainly was not an authentic jersey but it was much better quality than a t-shirt.

    Mine is a Starter brand mostly polyester. Stitched on "Carew". Stitched on "Twins" across the front. There's no sponsor and the Twins logo seems to be put on wrong -- it is almost perfectly horizontal instead of more diagonal. Doesn't look like it was a giveaway item.

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