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Sights and Sounds

July 15, 2012 12:59 AM

Approaching Target Field down Sixth Street has got to be just about the best sight in the whole city.

All the way from Hennepin (but not much beyond because the street bends) you could clearly see in the late afternoon sunshine that the ballpark had started to come to life. Continue down that stretch and you eventually emerge onto Target Plaza and get an equally breathtaking view.

Tonight's air over downtown had an interesting acoustical property, bouncing the stadium noises around and around, in the process converting them into something akin to the sound of surf. Out on the plaza, the sound was palpable evidence of the life of a city filled with baseball anticipation. I couldn't help but think that ten years ago such a sound being heard in that particular location was barely imaginable. (More on why I might think about this at the end of this post.)

As I approached on Hennepin tonight, I heard one woman turn the corner and literally gasp at the view. She let out a long, "Coooooool..." and then admitted to her friend that she hadn't actually been there yet, but needed to get there soon.

That's certainly the desired effect, especially when the team has the real potential of being buried before the top of the first inning is over on any given night.

But before we could get to that, we got to celebrate the induction of Camilo Pascual into the Twins Hall of Fame.

If you are of the Puckett/Hrbek era, or the Hunter/Radke era, or the Mauer/Morneau era, you are forgiven for not knowing anything about Pascual. Though he was a formidable pitcher during a nearly two-decade major league career, his name is one not often said with those long sighs we save for our favorite players.

Pascual came to Minneapolis with the Twins in 1961, and will forever be known as the man who threw the very first official major league pitch at old Metropolitan Stadium on April 21, 1961. He ultimately gave up a hit in that first at-bat to Marty Keough of the expansion Senators, a team Pascual would play for before the decade was out.

His biography and stats can easily be found elsewhere, so I won't belabor them here. But his level of gratitude at being inducted seemed warm and genuine, and he seems an appropriate choice for the honor.

The ceremony ended with the proverbial ceremonial first pitch, and was blessedly brief, given the conditions. At game time it was 90 degrees under a hazy blue sky, and the dew point had to be up in the 70s somewhere. It was easy to feel bad for those guys standing around Pascual in suits. Tonight was most definitely not a suit night at Target Field.

Even so, by this point in the season, we're all accustomed to the heat, and the stands were uncharacteristically full as the opening pitch was thrown. Cole De Vries got two quick outs, albeit on long fly balls, and then things deteriorated.

Despite the outing, De Vries is a good kid, and I hope he sticks with the team. He's got a very "Twins" quality about him. I can't really say that for a lot of the other anonymous arms which have come through this year. It's hard sometimes to maintain interest in a team full of people you don't know. (Though I'm certainly a fan, I'm not sure I could pick Trevor Plouffe or Brian Dozier out of a line-up. Time to get-to-know-'em again, I guess.)

Dozier appears to leave his feet with each pitch.

Determined to again try a food I haven't yet had at the ballpark, I made my way in the bottom of the first (in sort of a dejected fashion) to the Townball Tavern. The place, which is air conditioned, but still sort of stuffy, was hopping.

I ordered a Juicy Lucy and Killebrew Root Beer, and then tried to reengage with the ballgame.

One of those rectangles on the wall is the TV.

This turned out to be surprisingly difficult because A) the nearest TV was too far away, too tiny, and muted, and B) the place was just too noisy.

For the second time tonight the sound is what grabbed my attention. The Townball Tavern, in case you've never been there, is essentially a sports bar within the ballpark, full of hard surfaces designed to reflect every sound anyone makes. This is a key part of the atmosphere. And though it wasn't overly crowded, it was loud.

If you like such a place, you'll love this. But I came out two innings later with my ears literally ringing, and a sense that I needed some quiet time just to recuperate (which I then found on the mostly-empty Bud Deck).

The Juicy Lucy? Pretty good. Too much bread. Good spices and flavor. Excellent cheese. But sort of small overall, and not really worth $11. (Forget the one you had at Matt's. It's not really like that at all.) And it came with some homemade barbeque potato chips which sound better than they were. I ended up leaving 2/3 of them in the basket. With tax and tip, my bill topped $20. I won't be doing that again any time soon. (For reference, this afternoon we took the boys to the new water park just off of Como and Lexington in St. Paul. Admission was $16 for the family, and we got more snacks and beverages than we could finish for $15.)

Grass patching clearly on display after last weekend's concert

There was a third time when the sound of the ballpark caught my attention, and that was as I passed behind the wooden-backed seats in the Legends Club. They squeak!

Squeakers

I'm not sure that it was every single seat, but I heard it several times as I walked along, which made me wonder again if maybe there was a reason that they stopped installing these in ballparks back in the mid-twentieth century.

(To be continued.)

Please forgive the dearth of recent posts. There are multiple reasons, most of which you probably don't care about. But there's at least one reason that I hope you will care about: I've begun the active writing phase for my own ballpark book! The schedule has it being released sometime in 2013, and it will focus on a subject not yet touched in the history of Target Field (and that's all I'm saying for now).

I've also been busy making arrangements to see two additional ballparks this year (having seen T.D. Ameritrade Park in Omaha last month). In August I will be visiting Camden Yards and Nationals Park, getting a dose of the old and the new in a single trip. I'm all ears if you want to tell me something not to miss -- especially food wise.

I've been storing up all kinds of stuff, including my report from Omaha and a report on the progress of new Siebert Field. If I can convince myself to do more short posts, those will be coming up shortly.

Thanks for continuing to make BallparkMagic one of your regular stops!

Comments


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Nice report, Rick. Looking forward to the Siebert update. Drove past it a couple weeks ago...strange to see it razed already. I'm surprised by how quickly they expect it to be done.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 07:58 AM by fiesta Highlight this comment 1

Rick, I'll be interested in seeing how you compare/contrast Oriole Park and Nationals Park. Having used to live out there, I frequented both. They're both nice venues in very different ways. Nationals Park misses that "it" factor, though, and I think that mostly comes from its neighborhood. Development around the park withered when the ballpark opened and the economy tanked. Oriole Park -- with its short walk to the Inner Harbor -- makes the area a destination, whereas Nationals Park is more a place.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 08:57 AM by TheTruthHurts Highlight this comment 2

Well, I do know Nats Park broke the retro mold so to speak. It looks nothing like parks that came before it. It seems to me it has more of a circular feel to it, like the "cookie cutters" of the 70s. There are some nice touches to the park, but it just doesn't do it for me.

I know the designers of Nats Park wanted it to fit in with the "government official building look" that dominates the cit. but, out of the latest parks to dot MLB the last few years, it is one of my least faves. I will say, from an aesthetic point of view, Nats Park beats out Marlins Park by leaps and bounds.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 12:18 PM by luke (aka 3-159) Highlight this comment 3

How many first inning runs have the Twins allowed? They always seem to be playing from behind. 41 pitches for Duensing in one inning. Luke, I love your reviews of parks never visited.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 1:47 PM by Raging Peasants Highlight this comment 4

Wow, our guys are serving up batting practice this weekend. I'm glad I'm not at the ballpark.

Speaking of that, I've got four tickets to Wednesday's game... Maybe I can see Thome put one onto the plaza again!

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 2:00 PM by F_T_K Highlight this comment 5

Raging, I just call them as I see them.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 6:07 PM by luke Highlight this comment 6

A memorable part of the pre-game ceremony for me was seeing a number of the A's players line up to get Carew's autograph, as all the HOF members came off the field near the visiting dugout.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 7:34 PM by Expectorate Highlight this comment 7

Hey Rick - you mentioned your trip to the new Como pool. My oldest son is a lifeguard there. What do you think of the place?

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 7:42 PM by Jeff T. Highlight this comment 8

From what I understand Siebert field will be built in stages since they dont have all the money they need to finish the whole thing at once. So yea the first stage is expected to be done real quick the rest I dunno but its long overdue.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 8:04 PM by Leroy Highlight this comment 9

Great new post Rick. Excited to hear more about your book! Good luck!

Camden - two words for food; crab cakes. Also anything from Boog's BBQ in RF is tasty. Great park; interested in reading what you think. I have not been to the Nat's Park, so that could be an interesting comparison between the two.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 8:39 PM by ole Highlight this comment 10

Jeff,

We loved it! A ton of fun. Great value. Crowded but never unbearable. Highly recommended.

We will definitely go again soon.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 8:59 PM by Rick 11

Good to hear you liked the Como pool, Rick. I was impressed that they added things like a zip line and cliff diving. If they allowed smoking and had a cocktail lounge, it would be 1976 all over again.

Seriously though, it's a great place.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 10:03 PM by Jeff T. Highlight this comment 12

Rick,

I second the Boog's BBQ suggestion at Camden Yards. It was amazing and worth it to get the BIG version. I was very full after eating that sandwich.

At Nat's Park, they have Ben's Chili which was surprisingly good.

IMO - Both great parks.

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 10:34 PM by CSG Mike Highlight this comment 13

What's on the grass area in the batters eye. You can see it in the photo from the Bud deck

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM by Dust Highlight this comment 14

Those are Twins logos. I took a picture when I was there a couple of weeks ago. I'll publish it with my next post (can't find it right this minute).

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM by Rick 15

Not sure why it took so long for Camilo to go into the Twins HOF. His inclusion should have been a no-brainer.

Posted on July 17, 2012 at 11:57 AM by terry Highlight this comment 16


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