The Twins broke in their new field during an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals this past Saturday.
Ahhh . . . nothing beats an MLB game in the actual sun.
SPORTS This year, the Minnesota Twins inaugurate Target Field, a new baseball-only venue to replace the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which now will be used regularly only for Vikings football. Last weekend, I attended an exhibition game between the Twins and the St. Louis Cardinals (opponents in the 1987 World Series, which the Twins won) at Target Field, and saw outdoor Major League Baseball in Minnesota—even though it didn’t count in the standings—for the first time since the Metrodome opened in 1982.
The new park, which will see its first regular-season game on Monday, April 12th, is beautiful. From the giant retro Twins logo to the arrangement of the seating decks, the place shows that it was made for baseball. The infield-level seats are close to the action, and no outfield seat is very far away. Hitters face a lovely grove of planted pine trees instead of a backdrop that resembles the corner of a warehouse. A wall of shiny metal coins shimmers in the wind behind the right-field stands. The seats were warm in the sun and cool in the shade.
Perhaps the only advantage to the Metrodome was the fact that it had a roof. And so far the greatest worry among worriers is the possibility that, at the start and end of the season, games will be snowed out of Target Field. Not a crazy concern. To wit: In 1991, from the early evening of October 31st to November 2nd, 28 inches of snow fell on Minneapolis. Just four days earlier, on October 27, 1991, the Minnesota Twins’ Jack Morris pitched one of the finest games in baseball history, shutting out the Atlanta Braves 1-0 over ten innings in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. The afterglow took some of the sting off the blizzard.
But, let’s be honest: Baseball in the Metrodome was awkward. Because it was a dual-purpose stadium, a tier of football seats had to be folded up into the wall to make room for right field, necessitating a tall, removable barrier that stood in for the right-field wall. Because the wall looked like the plastic from a trash can, Twins fans called it the Hefty Bag. Visiting players, unaccustomed to the white roof, would lose sight of pop flies. Balls that hit the overhanging speakers remained in play. If a ball went into the holes in the roof and never came down, the play was a ground-rule double.
Of course, I’m sure my impression of Target Field was colored by the sunny, 61-degree weather. (The photo above happened to be shot on the day I attended, so you can see what I’m talking about.) The mean temperature on April 3rd in Minneapolis is 41 degrees.
GO: 3:10 pm, Apr 12. The Twins play the Boston Red Sox at Target Field. twinsbaseball.com
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT TARGET FIELD AND OTHER RELATED LINKS
- First impressions from the Star-Tribune’s Twins beat writer Joe Christensen, 4/2/2010:
"Eating my first Murray’s Steak Sandwich. Set me back $10.50, but it was every bit as good as advertised. The concessions opened at 3 p.m., and I was in line by 3:01."
- At twincities.com, the Pioneer Press’s Brian Murphy felt the same way, 4/2/2010:
"Beautiful, awesome, cool were among the superlatives Twins players tossed out before and after an 8-4 exhibition loss that became a side note to the christening of their new $545 million downtown Minneapolis home."
- A National Weather Service report on the Halloween blizzard of 1991.
- The Sporting News’ recap of the thrilling 1991 World Series.
- Read Jeff Ruby’s feature about his major-league baseball ballpark road trip (he did not visit Minneapolis’s Metrodome), from the July 2008 issue of Chicago magazine.
Photographs: Wayne Kryduba/Minnesota Twins; (thumbnail) Andy Hill/Minnesota Twins