But as we might have expected, the news of Killebrew's entry into hospice comes with the grace and warmth that has filled his career and life. It's not too often that you see a press release on such an occasion. Most people enter hospice with a whisper, if the word is even used at all. (Ironic, isn't it, that our preferred euphemism for "end-of-life care" is now itself regularly replaced by other euphemisms. Ultimately, euphemizing death is sort of pointless.)
Killebrew knows that his death will be deeply felt by many, many people. Thus, making this announcement, in addition to supporting one of his chosen causes, is an act of great kindness. As he and his family will now be preparing, so can we. The inevitable grief won't be lessened, but now is the time to begin the robust celebration of his life. Maybe we can even help him.
Will I write him a letter? I might.
But I did have a chance a few years ago to tell him in person what he meant to my childhood. And though it was spontaneous and unrehearsed (in other words, clunky and garbled), I think he got it. Now might be the time to tell him in more considered words what he has meant to the rest of my life.
I'm in Oakland today, having spent yesterday traveling (mostly out of digital contact) and hanging out at AT&T Park. If you've been there, you know what a beauty it is. If you haven't, put it on your list. (Short review: Baseball heaven by the bay. Retro in the very best sense.) Tonight it's the much less impressive (at least from a distance) Oakland Coliseum.
But I wanted to take a moment to answer a question posed the other night by the ever-less-optimistic twinswschamps2027:
Does having a crappy team to watch taint YOUR ballpark experience when you go?
Believe it or not, I don't go out to the ballpark to see the Twins win. I like it when they do, of course. I prefer it when they do. I expect that the team will be built with at least a chance to win on any given night (they are).
But when it's all said and done, whether or not they actually won will be only a small part of my mental summary of the experience.
There are a lot of different ways to enjoy a trip to the ballpark. Some live and die by the final score. Some are looking for those great plays -- the homers, the leaping catches, the collisions at home plate. Some are out for a social experience, and the game is just a framework for that. Some people are actively parenting at the game, trying to give the kids a good experience, or maybe trying to teach a few life lessons, or even just trying to make a connection.
Some people are watching pitching, or hitting, or fielding, or running, or managing. Some are baffled by it all. Some are trying to learn it. There are probably fans who go out to watch the groundskeeping.
Some ballpark visitors will focus on people-watching, or the food, or the amenities, or even just the simple act of getting away from something else.
For some people, getting out to the ballpark is part of a rhythm, whether it's every game, or three times a season, or something in between. For some it's a very special occasion.
For me? I can't decide. All of the above. None of the above. A few of the above. Other things.
I love to watch the game -- a stew of brains, fine skills and raw power. I love to see a beautiful lawn, and a shifting sky. I love to experience the unified movement of a large group of people. I love to jump up and yell sometimes. I love to track the ball from pitcher to hitter to fielder. I love feeling connected to my grandfathers, and their grandfathers, my kids, and (someday) their kids. I love the arc of a baseball in flight.
Sometimes I go to the ballpark to study the game. Sometimes I go to study the people. Sometimes I go to study the ballpark. Sometimes I go to avoid studying. Sometimes I go without a care in the world. Sometimes I go to think. Sometimes I don't know why I went until I get there. Sometimes there's no reason. Sometimes I go because somebody gave me tickets. Sometimes I go and feel guilty. Sometimes I don't go and wish I had.
As you can tell, the make-up of any particular team has only a small impact on any of that. In fact, I had a blast yesterday in San Francisco, with my Twins nowhere in sight (yes, it's time to be concerned about them). I was there to study the park, and didn't much watch the game. But then it was 3-2 Giants in the top of the 9th and I found myself rooting noisily with the crowd for Brian Wilson to complete a shaky save. (He did.)
My summer could be a mess if I'm following a lousy team. But my ballpark experiences? They'll be just fine.
The other day, while watching the Cubs and Cards on TV with Noah, out of the blue he said, "Dad, why do you love baseball so much?"
Victoria laughed. "Good question, Noah."
I didn't have a ready answer, at least not one that would satisfy a five-year-old. So I tried the old trick of turning the question back on the questioner.
"Oh, I don't know. Why do you love baseball so much, Noah?"
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This page was last modified on May 29, 2011.
"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 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
An arch under construction.
That is the gun-metal gray wall of The Stadium just beyond the elevated tracks.
We'll be packed into the first five rows of section 136. Hey, Wilson! I'm bringing my glove!
Detail of the train tunnels (click to view the entire drawing)
The entrance at Gate 3.
Home Plate Box, Section 111, Row 8 or 9-ish (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Legends Club seats in context (above the main concourse, below the suite level)
The pouring is taking place at the very bottom of this photo.
That's Jacque Jones looking up in awe at the Great Greenness.
The plate marker is just to the left.
Scoreboard as viewed from Fifth Street.
The service entrance area in left-center, now with bench seating
Here's what they do in April at Comerica Park
Balcony of the Town Ball Tavern.
Fun with section counting!
Directly above gate 6 "Oliva" on the Club level.
Here's the Northstar platform.
Section A, Row WC
Twins president Dave St. Peter presents his list of fan suggestions to the Ballpark Authority
A closer look at the grid on the Pro Shop.
This is the entrance behind home plate (not visible in the renderings which have been released). It shows that the upper deck is set back from the facade -- a very good thing if it remains in the final design.
The view from the corner of Ford Centre. (Feel free to tie up your boats here.)
Up close, this is what you'll see as you walk along.
In March, we were still only imagining baseball through those windows.
The view from our Loge Box
Now from the inside looking at the same area.
Roll-up metal doors visible at right.
Twins in HD on the big board
The parking bay structure is now clearly visible
That group was working on something very carefully, but I couldn't tell just what it was.
Three weeks ago this was a patch of scruffy trees. Now it's a patio. In case you were wondering, that's where I've been...
Just to the right, more ticket machines. These things are everywhere.
I noticed this detail while taking the previous picture. I figure that it must be the VIP entrance from the surface parking lot. I don't think there is any parking inside the ballpark, so this entrance will likely be for suite-dwellers and other VIPs, though I can't say for sure whether players will enter here.