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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
From last week, you can see the piers taking shape. I believe that the front row, visible here as just forms and reinforcing rods, is the front edge of the plaza.
Dan Kenney, my tour guide
Discussions in progress on some very brown grass...
Looking north (toward Fifth Street and the LRT station).
This is the staircase (ramp?) leading up to the trapezoid. Nice flagpole too. You'll be able to find me and Ben McEvers at the base of that flagpole on opening day in 2010!
Looking up Fifth, with LRT tracks and B ramp at left
In the top of the 9th, the sun hit our backs and summer took one last long look.
Click on this photo to see what it looked like on this spot 101 years ago (I'm not kidding)
Another view of the escalator, which apparently comes preassembled!
You'll be able to park here for a quick stop at the Pro Shop or ticket window.
Some of Minneapolis' finest checking out the construction through a spot where a knothole will be one day.
Here's a detail from the above image, showing the LED strips up close.
Main concourse, looking south toward the area behind home plate.
Directly above gate 6 "Oliva" on the Club level.
Heaters over standing room (the backs of the retired number circles visible above)
Go get 'em, boys!
The right field overhang as seen from Seventh Street (with dude)
The view down Sixth Street toward the ballpark site. A pedestrian bridge will extend this street right into the main entrance of the park. The regrettable facade of Target Center is on the left. Butler Square is on the right. Click on the image to see what it looked like on this very spot about 100 years ago.
The Metrodome hot dog vendor. (Source: RP)
Love the red flowers -- just like the original concept drawings. That NEVER happens.
(Click to enlarge greatly)
Looking northeast from the ballpark site (Source: LP)
Click to see the whole page from this 1971 program.
Gate 29 Carew (note the walkway above open to the street where you can shout down at your lost friends to tell them where to meet you)
The start of the VIP entrance and loading dock.
(Click to enlarge.)
Now from the inside looking at the same area.
Ballpark elevation diagram, viewed from Fifth Street. (Click to enlarge.)
This view looks up Fifth Street toward downtown and shows how the LRT tracks sort of snuggle up to the ballpark.
Doors directly to the concourse, and a view of the stands beyond
The finished product.
Best view available from the "B" ramp.
I finally found the corner of TF dedicated to the Senators. What a wonderful sight.