A gesture to a suffering child wins a heart.
I have always enjoyed listening to other fans tell their stories of why they became baseball fans in general and Twins fans in particular. I hope this prompts you to reflect and reminiscence of the joys of when you became a fan.
I was born in Minneapolis & became a passive Twins fan when they moved here from Washington at the tender age of 7. During that first year of professional ball in the Twin Cities I became crippled with perthes bone disease and was confined to home in traction. My activity was extremely limited, my schooling was done at home with a tutor, I became a voracious reader and would not miss a Twins game on the radio. I made up my own scorecards & kept track while listening to those games (I still have most of these).
I was fitted with a rigid brace 9 months later & shortly after that my parents moved the family to a suburb of Kansas City, MO as they felt the winters there would be easier on me to navigate with my handicap. I had gained some freedom with my new found mobility, but had lost a true friend when I no longer had daily access to "my" Twins other than the boxscores in the papers. My love of baseball "allowed" me to adopt the Kansas City Athlectics as an outlet for my hunger for baseball.
In the spring of 1963, I wrote a letter to my favorite Twins player of that time....Vic Power. Yes, Vic Power. The letter had a simple request, an autographed picture. I gave this letter to my mother to mail for me, with hopes that my mailbox would someday yield results. I can imagine what other fans might think: why Vic Power and not the likes of Earl Battey, Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall, or Zoilo Versalles? I'm not really sure either, that's just the way it was. I waited, waited, waited some more, but received no reply from Mr. Power. I was disappointed, but nonetheless still rooted for my Twins from afar.
July 29th, 1963 is a day I will always remember. My mother presented me with a beautiful glossy photo of Vic Power, autographed with a short note of his appreciation for being a fan of his. I was in 7th heaven! All was right in my world. I was joyous. I cried. I still have that wonderful photo in pristine condition. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was perfect; it couldn't get any better than this for a young fan. WRONG!!
A few days later, Friday, August 2nd, 1963 is a day that lives in infamy for this young fan. My mother told me early in the day that this would be a very special day for me. She explained to me that we were guests of Vic Power for that day's game against the A's! Oh the anticipation - a ball game at old Municipal Stadium. The picnic area, bleacher seats, the petting zoo in left field, the mechanical rabbit that delivered balls to the home plate ump; the smell of an old ballpark.....priceless. My imagination ran wild with dreams of the upcoming day.
My mother and I were picked up by a private car to be brought to the stadium aproximately three hours before game time. We arrived at the ball park, delivered to a private entrance, and greeted by a stadium employee for a private tour of the park. We were provided snacks and drinks and escorted to our box seats directly behind the Twins dugout. (What? I was just counting on some bleacher seats, this is heaven for sure!) We watched some batting practice & pepper games, the ushers came & went asking if we needed anything: popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs, soft drinks, etc.
It was about 45 minutes to game time when a security guard came down the aisle calling my name. I was asked to accompany him to the side of the dugout, he opened a gate & escorted me on the field to meet Vic Power! My head was swimming, pictures were taken, I was given a hug by my favorite player, we talked baseball for a few minutes, I was asked if there was any more he could do for me. I stammered maybe my glove (never used, but well oiled, pocket formed perfectly with a ball wrapped inside) could be autographed by a few Twins players, & perhaps an autographed ball. The glove was taken from me by someone and disappeared.
Out comes Killebrew and Hall and pictures were taken. Out comes Mincher, Allison, Battey - pictures taken. Out comes Rollins and Versalles and more pictures were taken. I was escorted to the dugout and got to sit with Sam Mele & Camilo Pascual -still more pictures taken. It was game time and I was escorted back to my seat to enjoy one of the most remarkable days of my life.
I was walking on air! The game about to begin, not a worry in the world, it no longer made any difference how this day would end as it has been perfect in every way. My hero went 3 for 6, with 3 runs scored and an RBI. Rollins & Hall homered, Pascual pitched a complete game, and we won 10-3. Oh, did I mention Vic stole second base during the game & pointed in my direction afterwards?
You might wonder what happened to my glove; it was returned to me during the late innings with autographs of the entire Twins team. Also given to me were 2 autographed balls by the entire team of both the Twins & A's - not the mass produced items but real autographs! I never used that glove or the balls & have them to this day, along with those beautiful black & white photos taken with some of the Twins greats.
It wasn't until many years later that my mother admitted to me that she also wrote an additional letter that was included with my request for that autographed picture of Vic that asked if there was some small thing he could do for me & my story is the result of that letter. It was a simpler time, one where athletes took the time for the fans. I will always remember those days with fondness. It was an event that ingrained the Minnesota Twins into my soul.