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 3004 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
This concourse, the uppermost, was built on top of the now-hidden old concourse during the 70s renovation.
The Fun Zone/Rescue Area in Oakland during the second inning
At the other end of the bridge, the configuration of the tracks has become clear.
LRT station has appeared.
Scoreboard as viewed from Fifth Street.
Dave St. Peter introducing the first physical models of the ballpark in June 2007
This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.
CBP: retro in facade only
Champion's Club details (click to enlarge)
View from the batter's eye seats
How many times did we water down our field as kids? More times than we played games, that's for sure!
This design has a rather generic quality to it, but they appear to have considered the B garage. Though it isn't part of the model, they've clearly left room for it.
Looking across the plaza toward the main ticket area.
The right field foul pole seen against a backdrop of Butler Square (itself a site of great significance in the history of professional baseball in Minneapolis)
Look closely at the overhang. You'll see the on the right it is flush with the fence, and then it sticks out farther and farther as you move toward center. More fun for Michael Cuddyer.
They can put a camera just about anywhere. (Photo by Jeff Ewer)
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.
The limestone now wraps around onto the HERC side.
This is the Metropolitan Club as viewed from the future Ballpark Authority office space.
At TF, you never know when you may bump into a Pohlad
Clyde Doeppner proudly displays colored bricks he scavenged from the Met during its demolition. These are the colors in question!
Those little oval additions are positively laughable!
Click to enlarge.
For reference, this is that same area as viewed from the seat locator.
This is a slightly blurry view of the pavilion in center. It has a quirky shape, but one which is completely consistent with the overall ballpark design. Nice work there. You can also get a glimpse of the greenery which will rise above the fences.
Hubert's remains the only sports bar within site of the Dome after 28 years of its existence. It's a cautionary tale.
The storage tunnel is barely visible at left behind that guy.
The view out Gate 6 "Oliva".
Life in the shadows
I'm too short to see over that wall. How about a little platform or something?
Final Metrodome baseball sight
Looking down what was Third Avenue, and will be a freeway entrance ramp beneath the outfield stands.