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Ballpark History Foiled

The Old Met Home Plate Will NOT Be Coming to a Park Anytime Soon

July 13, 2006 11:31 PM

Great ideas have started appearing here, and there have been many calls here and elsewhere to make history a very important element at the new ballpark.

It's certainly the perfect opportunity for the Twins to embrace the franchise history prior to 1961. They did, after all, win a World Series (1924) and two AL Pennants as the Washington Senators (1925 and 1933) which are not memorialized anywhere. And Walter Johnson, one of the greatest pitchers ever, doesn't have his statue in any ballpark. That's a crime. (Did you know that there are quite a few hall-of-famers linked to the franchise beyond those on the big curtain? Some even wear Senators caps -- Johnson, Goose Goslin, Sam Rice -- while several others spent substantial time on the team.)

Sometimes big gestures are in order:

On May 8, 1966, the Cardinals played the last game at what was once called Sportsman's Park: 17,503 spectators saw them lose to the San Francisco Giants, 10-5. At the game's end, a helicopter carried home plate downtown to the new 50,000-seat Busch Memorial Stadium.

-- Lawrence S. Ritter, Lost Ballparks

As far as I can tell, no similar move was made for the new Busch Stadium (if anyone knows otherwise, please post it in the comments).

Home plate mount from Met Stadium (Source: LP, courtesy Clyde Doepner)

Home plate mount from Met Stadium (Source: LP, courtesy Clyde Doepner)

It's natural to look back and see if there's anything similar the Twins might do. Someone suggested not too long ago that the Twins track down home plate from Met Stadium and install it in the new ballpark. The romantic in me agrees with this notion, but pure practicality will most certainly prevent it. (Someone also claimed that the old home plate is encased in bronze at the Mall of America. Not true.)

The story of Met Stadium's home plate is a sad and sordid one, with almost no particulars, and I'll give you the ending first: no one knows where it is.

I heard the whole story from Clyde Doepner while looking at his extensive collection of Met Stadium memorabilia at the Mall of America a couple of weeks ago. I was there (as were many fans) for the reunion of the Twins and Dodgers players from the 1965 World Series.

There was Clyde, with his elaborate and very cool display, set up on the edge of the rotunda near where the autographs were being signed. If you missed it, you'll have another chance. Clyde is anticipating that much of his memorabilia will be on display in a Minnesota baseball museum at the new ballpark. In fact, Clyde had already signed a deal with the Twins had a ballpark been built over by the river several years ago.

Clyde Doepner's Met Stadium Memorabilia

Clyde Doepner's Met Stadium Memorabilia (Source: LP)

One of his greatest (and largest, and heaviest) pieces is pictured here: it's the mount for home plate from Met Stadium. Clyde said that he arrived at the remains of the Met while demolition was taking placed and simply asked the foreman if he could have it. He was told that it was his if he was willing to dig it up himself and haul it away. So he did, along with one of the bullpen pitching rubbers (not displayed because its base was a chunk of cement weighing somewhere around 50 pounds).

But as you can see, the plate itself is gone. "They were going to give it away after the last game," Clyde explains, "but it was stolen after the second-to-last game. They had to put on a new one for the last game, and they gave that one away in a raffle." Did you win this raffle? If so, we want to hear from you!

So if there is to be a transplant, it'll be from the Metrodome. But a helicopter move seems unlikely, what with the roof and all. A train move, on the other hand, might just be the thing. Despipte what many feel about the Metrodome, there is some history which really should be transplanted. The Twins did, after all, win two World Series there...

But I'm happy to report that at least one idea first mentioned here has already made it onto the Twins' radar! (This 12 second clip is an excerpt from tonight's channel 9 news.)


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The Walter Johnson statue is a must, and Goose Goslin has to be represented.

I'd like the Twins to have a section in the outfield that has a chainlink fence so the fans can watch the game at field level. This would be similar to the ol' Met.

That's great that the flagpole was brought up in the news. I hope to see it at the new park.

Posted on July 15, 2006 at 02:49 AM by cg Highlight this comment 1

Good idea on the Senators stuff.

Puckett's infamous left-center field home run seat could be marked/transplanted somehow too -- although who know where the corresponding location would be in the new park!

Also, whatever happended to the old Plexiglass from the outfield wall? They could set up a little display where you could emulate Puck's catch, or try to catch one against a replica right-field baggie.

Posted on July 17, 2006 at 4:52 PM by spycake Highlight this comment 2

ADDENDUM: After seeing the right field wall in Pittsburgh (21 feet high in honor of Clemente), it occurred to me that it might be appropriate to have a small portion of the centerfield wall be 34 feet high. Obviously, not the whole thing, but maybe a three foot wide section which rises into an obelisk. Balls hit off that section and bouncing back onto the field would be in play.

Posted on July 18, 2006 at 8:01 PM by Rick 3

I'm all for including history from Washington.

I just want to make sure that, in our rush to honor Kirby, we don't forget guys like Killebrew, Carew, Oliva, Kaat, et al. who helped build the fan base in Minnesota.

Posted on July 25, 2006 at 10:23 AM by BD Highlight this comment 4

I would like to see the old rubber walkway from the batters boxes to homeplate and the semi circle with Twins on it recreated in some fashion in the new ballpark. Also I thought it was always cool when the home team would put the visting team's logo down for their on deck circle. The Twins did this at the Met for a while, do any current teams do it? Speaking of the infield embellishments, I am not a fan of the cinder track from the pitcher to home plate. What is the reasoning for this? I know it might have some historical bearing but now a days with line shots up the middle I dont' think it is a good idea.

Posted on July 25, 2006 at 5:00 PM by Jiminstpaul Highlight this comment 5

I know this Twins fan has good intentions in proposing his team honor the franchise's history in Washington before 1961. But this lifelong Washington fan has two words---HELL, NO!!! It's bad enough the Los Angeles Dodgers pretends as if the Brooklyn franchise had anything to do with L.A.---even going so far as to name their "hometown hero" a man who never played a single game in L.A.! Washington has a team now, and I consider the Washington Nationals not the former Montreal Expos, but a CONTINUATION of the franchise that played in D.C. from 1901-1971. A statue of Walter Johnson will be erected at Nationals Park. The only Senator the Twins need honor is Harmon Killebrew, who played most of his career in Minnesota.

(One more thing. I would like to vent a bit about the "Hometown Heroes" promotion. Why not call it "Franchise Heroes" instead? The Nationals were not allowed to use any former Senators, but were forced to use former Montreal Expos which meant NOTHING to D.C. baseball fans. It would have been better to allow categories for defunct cities like Brooklyn, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Athletics, and of course the Washington Nationals/Senators as well as the Montreal Expos. If Nats fans could not vote in a Senator under Nats, they should have been restricted to voting for the new players who came to Washington. I think Chad Cordero would have won for the new Nats, and Walter Johnson for the old.

I notice that the Twins did not make a token nomination of Walter Johnson for their hometown hero. They should not apologize. The Dodgers, on the other hand, should be ashamed to have nominated only one player who played a majority of his career in L.A. rather than Brooklyn.)

Posted on November 26, 2007 at 9:05 PM by Edward J. Cunningham Highlight this comment 6

One last thing. Although I was not born when Calvin Griffith moved the Senators to Minnesota, I am a little bitter about the move. However, I have the utmost respect for Twins fans, and they are amongst the best fans in MLB. I remember last year the Nats travelled to the Twin Cities to play the Twins and there was a very good crowd, despite the fact that the Twins were not in first place, were playing in the Metrodome, and most importantly, were playing US. Besides, I cannot fault Twins fans since Washington caused the same heartache to Expos fans in Montreal.

Posted on November 26, 2007 at 9:09 PM by Edward J. Cunningham Highlight this comment 7

I am not a Twins fan, but I have a suggestion for the Twins to honor the most popular player in the history of the Minnesota Twins. I don't think it is feasible to have a 34 foot obelisk, but why not a 34-foot flagpole? If the Twins can bring back the original Metropolitan Stadium flagpole and it's too short, they can add on to it. If not, they can erect a new one...

Posted on November 26, 2007 at 9:38 PM by Eddie Cunningham Highlight this comment 8

I do note that the same Robert Short who moved the Senators to Texas was the same one who moved the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles. Perhaps in the spirit of reconciliation, the new Twins ballpark could unfurl a vertical banner reading "SHORT SUCKS!!!!"? (That banner became famous for being displayed at the last Senators game at RFK in 1971. At the last Nationals game in RFK last year, a fan unfurled a similar banner reading "SHORT STILL SUCKS!!!")

Here is a better idea. Outside RFK Stadium, there is a memorial to Clark Griffith, adoptive uncle of Calvin Griffith and Hall of Famer. Perhaps the Washington Nationals could send a duplicate of that to the Twins for their ballpark? Or perhaps sponsor a statue of Harmon Killebrew?

In return, there is something I'd love the Twins to do. For the most part, they ignore their history before 1961, and I generally approve of this. But what if (just before a game where the Nationals are visiting) the Twins were to unfurl commemorative banners of the 1924 World Champions and 1925 & 1933 American League Champions? Then fold up those banners and let the Nationals display them in our ballpark (or a nearby museum) on "permanent loan"?

Posted on November 27, 2007 at 6:48 PM by Edward J. Cunningham Highlight this comment 9

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