As we walked, his handler dropped back and it was just him and me. I tried to put a few words together to thank him for what he'd given me as a kid. But, as you can imagine, my words were sloppy and stuttered. I was about as articulate as I might have been as a 10-year-old. I bet he gets that a lot.
But he put an arm around my shoulder and talked about how much he'd enjoyed playing, how much he loved the game and the fans.
The greatest part was that he actually meant it. He seemed humbled by my offer of thanks, somewhat reluctant to accept any sort of "hero" status (I didn't use that word), and fully comprehending the impact he'd had on me (and by extension, many, many others -- again, I'm sure he gets this a lot).
The next day, when he was signing autographs in the concourse, I got in the already-long line just as his signing time began, and I was still about 15 people back when his allotted time ended. But the line behind me stretched off into the distance. And so Harmon just plain kept on signing.
I got my picture signed, and a bunch of people who had been behind me in the line also got their stuff signed.
Even after however many hours (years) he'd been doing it, he was cheerful and gracious.
One of the perks of working on this site is that I get to talk to a lot of people about behind-the-scenes baseball stuff. I can tell you that the admiration for Harmon is genuine and widespread. He is considered one of the all-time great players, one of the all-time great ambassadors for the game, and one of the all-time great teammates and team leaders. He's someone who recognizes that fame was a byproduct of doing what he loved, and that it came with responsibility.
He's lived up to that responsibility many times over.
I have much more from this amazing weekend coming, of course. But if you ever wonder about the name of this site, it's also another name for my favorite player.
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3045 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
The glorious Gate 34
The rough outlines of our urban trench. (North is up.)
The gate has grown a row of sponsorship
Here are some less intrusive things things you can actually get at the ballpark.
Freight trains run in very close proximity (Jerry Bell was standing at my left elbow when I took this picture)
The Overlook, as seen by outfielders
This view looks up Fifth Street toward downtown and shows how the LRT tracks sort of snuggle up to the ballpark.
Looking back toward the ballpark from Third Avenue and Fifth Street. Again, the track configuration is now clearly visible.
A view into the park down Sixth Street from just beyond Hennepin. Note that one side of the street contains century-old, classic buildings -- structures which are likely to last another century or more. The other side, not so much. (Click the image to see what it looked like from exactly the same spot 97 years ago.)
(Click to enlarge)
What can you see from up there? Some say not much.
From the best seat in the house (Section 8, Row A), the right field corner is blocked. (No one may care. Fine with me. People should know.)
Lots of pix waiting to be seen from Bert's memorable night.
This is from inside the B ramp, where an entrance to the plaza will one day be
I think AP is in there somewhere...
Gate 34 Puckett
Time to paint those supports Vikings-purple.
Viewed from up Sixth Street, the tip of the canopy looks like the claw of some gigantic crustacean!
Looking across the top of the batter's eye
Photo by Jeff Ewer
Ballpark elevation diagram, viewed from Fifth Street. (Click to enlarge.)
Signage for the concession stand which is available from the plaza (plaques are up on the fencing)
Left to right: Opat, Oliva, Dave St. Peter, Melvin Tennant (Meet Minneapolis), Jerry Bell, Rybak
OK, it doesn't really look like that at all...
A last look on the way out.
The service entrance area in left-center, now with bench seating
(Click to enlarge.)
A distinct misstep, ostensibly to guard against missteps. But methinks I smell a lawyer...