Under a fittingly dark and foreboding sky, the Twins took the field alongside Darth Vader and a gaggle of stormtroopers in honor of Star Wars Night.
From the moment "Obi-wan Kepleroni" and "Buck Skywalker" took the field, the wind was already whipping. Napkins and trash swirled across the field and fans chased hats ripped from their heads. As the first couple innings passed, the sky continued to darken until finally the rain opened up during the bottom of the second inning and sent fans scattering for the overhang and concourse.
"It's watering down my beer!" a guy with a beer near me exclaimed as we both bolted for shelter.
The Astros jumped all over Chris Archer and quickly took a 5-1 lead. The teams continued to play on through the rain and even some lightning (no comment on that one), but once reports of a tornado warning in nearby Eden Prairie came through, it seemed like only a matter of time until the rain and severe weather would continue its eastward march, reach downtown Minneapolis and bring the game to a halt. It was not lost on me that there was a tornado confirmed in Hutchinson, a mere hour west of Minneapolis, and my family and friends in the west metro were sheltered in basements, yet here we were at a baseball game completely exposed to the elements and in the storm's path.
Sure enough, as the Twins took the field to begin the 4th inning, the grounds crew came out to tidy up the infield dirt (a fool's errand with the incoming rain, I thought to myself) and rookie reliever Yennier Cano warmed up on the mound, out came the tarp and into a rain delay the game went- before Cano could throw his first MLB pitch. Interestingly, it will go down as the date of his MLB debut
The Target Field Grounds Crew visibly struggled in the high winds to get the tarp down on the ground, and it was so windy that they had to weigh down the tarp with nine golf carts parked along its corners and sides.
The Twins PA announcer and the outfield big screen instructed fans to seek shelter on the concourse and displayed an ominous radar graphic showing a giant mass of dark colors headed directly our way.
At first, fans on the 300 level were allowed to stay on the upper concourse, where they mostly mingled and took videos of the torrential rain being blown across the field. I was doing exactly that when a concession worker walked up.
"Do you want to see a really great view of the sky?" he asked.
He motioned me to follow him, and we walked past a concession stand over to a beautiful view of North Loop overlooking the lightrail station. Lighting radiated across the sky and I snapped some pictures as a young man next to me profusely apologized to his date for the terrible game experience. You know the saying, you can't control the weather, but you can check the forecast. Actually, I just made that up.
The concession stand worker stopped by about five minutes later to take another look at the sky.
"You're still here?" he asked me.
Sirens began wailing, and the ushers shepherded us to the lower concourse, which was jam-packed with soggy fans. I found a spot overlooking the field above the first base dugout and watched. I have truly never seen anything like it: the rain was coming down in such thick sheets that you could barely see the outfield video boards. The National Weather Service Twin Cities tweeted
that the storm was expecting to bring Minneapolis wind gusts of up to 80 mph. A damage survey conducted the next day on Thursday May 12 concluded
that an EF0 tornado touched down in Coon Rapids 15 miles north of Target Field.
Despite the torrential downpour, I was awestruck with how well the Target Field drainage system seemed to be keeping up. While there was rain pooled on top of the tarp, the water on the infield dirt and surrounding grass was largely dissipating.
As time ticked by, Target Field tried to find ways to keep fans entertained. With their tongue in cheek, they played "Rain Is A Good Thing" by Luke Bryan, which fans gleefully sang along to, and the Twins alternated between showing a Marney Gellner interview with Justin Morneau and an apocalyptic warning to stay sheltered. Unfortunately for those looking to dance, Club Rayne did not open today because the Twins cleared fans out of all seats.
Fans appeared to be in good spirits during the delay, though some outwardly questioned why the Twins decided to play the game at all given the evening's forecast.
At one point, a guy took advantage of there being no security on the field and ran onto the field
. He ran across the tarp (without slipping, somehow) before he was apprehended near the third base dugout in a somewhat anticlimactic fashion- no tackling or chasing, he simply stopped running and walked into the loving, open arms of Target Field security.
Though the severe weather had blown through by about 8:40 p.m., it continued to rain steadily, and it looked like it would continue until midnight. The concourse started to empty out.
Then at 9:17 p.m., 1 hour and 20 minutes after they first rolled out the tarp, the Twins officially announced they were suspending the game until the following day, Thursday May 12 at 12:10 p.m. The Twins would pick up in the top of the 4th inning down 5-1.
After being almost no-hit by Justin Verlander the day before, it was not the start of the game the Twins were hoping for. Can we get a do-over?
Regardless, to me, Wednesday's game was one of those sporting events that is so bizarre that it rises to the level of being fun.
The remaining fans in the stadium trickled out as "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival played overhead. I sloshed back to my car dreaming of sunnier days ahead- both in the forecast and on the baseball diamond.
Were you at the game yesterday or watching from somewhere else that got hit by severe weather? What was your experience like? Leave your comments, thoughts, and stories below.