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?"
"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 3019 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
The model still shows the Batters Eye Club, which is no longer part of the design.
There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow! (I loved this place as a kid.)
Did you notice the flowers?
The visitor's clubhouse at Target Field. (Photo by Javen Swanson)
At Comerica Park, some aisles have railings and some do not.
8:02 PM It's at peak, affecting mostly the upper deck.
The saddest event
Ballpark magic: Infield materializes (click to enlarge)
Detail enclosing the main ticket window area
Viewed from up Sixth Street (that's Target Center on the left), you can get an idea of how the connection is currently planned. As it stands now, the plaza will extend to that support pillar, from which a stairway will empty to the sidewalk below. If they get their wish, additional support structures will provide a walkway along Target Center which will gradually (without stairs) meet the sidewalk somewhere up near First Avenue.
The original Candlestick Park
An early concept drawing for the site
This is NOT Twins Territory anymore
The start of the VIP entrance and loading dock.
Work beneath the scoreboard
A scene repeated about a million times each game
Special guests in the trees!
Lots of people are doing it.
An overview of the model display.
Champion's Club moat (windows are found at the base of the limestone behind the seats -- not visible in this image)
Gate 29 "Carew" is at right.
Larry DiVito and staff member (you write the caption)
The main concourse is a very busy place at all times.
Who Owns What (Click for larger version. Source: Ballpark Authority)
I think AP is in there somewhere...
Legend's Club, Section E (Click to enlarge greatly.)
Detail at Gate 6
The media all turned out!
The Hrbek gate is directly below. It's a lively place after a game.