May 13, 2011 1:16 PM
Though this is not exactly a surprise, it's still a sad day to be a Twins fan.
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?"
He didn't even hesitate. "Because you do, Dad."
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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
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This is also the promenade, where the first indications of the final texture of the walkway can be seen. This layer of concrete is going on top of gravel (as has been done over on the plaza).
Here's a closer look at the bullpen area. It's hard to tell for sure, but I think there is still an opening to the concourse right above.
This is the LRT bridge under construction as viewed from the east looking west. The ballpark facade would be at the left in this photo.
Approach in the A ramp to the skywalk over Seventh
This is some of the signage in place for concession stands.
A seating bowl comes into focus. Note that the netting has been installed on the foul pole. (Field Box)
The first completed mural
Staircase entrance. You cannot miss them.
Here we are waiting for the first train to arrive at the station (Nov 14).
Final Metrodome baseball sight
This view, from the Minnekahda building (or possibly a predecessor), looks toward the right field corner. The City Market, at left, occupied the land where the B ramp and Target Plaza now stand (over I-394). And the Overlook now juts out just a little beyond where that driveway enters the railyard.
Double plays will be turned here.
A walkway begins to form (this is as close as you can get right now)
Polo Grounds from the south
A desolate Marquette Ave
Looking from the doorway to the south, across Seventh Street
You are forgiven for wondering whether architect Tom Oslund is, in fact, a visitor from the future.
One thing that the design disguises nicely is that the Pro Shop (and other key components) are actually built over lanes of freeway. That can clearly be seen here.
Photo by Tyler Wycoff
An early concept for the pedestrial bridge. (Source: Ballpark Authority, RP)
B ramp at left, ballpark at right (and visible far away through the tiny crack)
The 1963 team won 91 games! (Click to enlarge and see the names)
This looks up Fifth Street (LRT train visible in the distance). This bridge is also being partially rebuilt (see next photo).
Handshakes all around (there's gonna be a lot of that over the next few weeks)
Dome, what have you taken from us?
A little ground's crew action in the first inning the other night.
As mentioned earlier, one of the best climate-controlled views of construction is from the 7th floor elevator lobby in the A ramp. (That's Noah getting his first glimpse of the new ballpark.)
Met Stadium seat colors (click for the complete image)
This is the revised version of the center field pavilion (without the restaurant). It looks like there are no seats, just some ledges for people to sit on. It reminds me of the seating on the "bridge" which sticks out of the new Guthrie Theater. Anything which lands in the trees will presumably be a home run, so the "411" sign is apparently just for fun.
A view straight on of the Pro Shop area and ticket windows (just barely visible). The piers you see beneath the plaza are already almost completed (see final photo).
BPM - Ballpark Magic
BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
DSP - Dave St. Peter
FSE - Full Season Equivalent
FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)
HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)
HPB - Home Plate Box
HRP - Home Run Porch
LC - Legends Club
LRT - Light Rail Transit
MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)
MOA - Mall of America
MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)
NYS - New Yankee Stadium
SRO - Standing Room Only
STH - Season Ticket Holder
TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium
TF - Target Field
Selected Bibliography - Analysis
First Edition (1992)
Second Edition (2006)
Selected Bibliography - Surveys
Second Edition (1987)
Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000, large coffee table)
Original edition (2000, round)
Revised edition (2006, round)
(2001, medium coffee table)
(2002, small coffee table)
(2003, medium coffee table)
(2004, very large coffee table)
(2006, very large coffee table)
Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
Book and six ballpark miniatures