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!
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!
"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.
The view down Sixth Street toward the ballpark site. A pedestrian bridge will extend this street right into the main entrance of the park. The regrettable facade of Target Center is on the left. Butler Square is on the right. Click on the image to see what it looked like on this very spot about 100 years ago.
The Metropolitan Club (click to enlarge)
An ice cream salad cone -- er, Walk-a-Taco
Catwalks provide access to the View Level seats (from the Ballpark Authority July update)
Another piece of the neighborhood puzzle: the Northstar platform.
Viewed from another angle, you can see that the bullpens now sit beneath the upper deck outfield seating.
Dan Kenney, my tour guide
The wooden louvers are in on Fifth Street
Click to enlarge
Good seats, but no scoreboard or sky.
Trees now line Seventh Street
Gate 29 "Carew" is at right.
Grid for the ironwood louvres is in place
Work going on under the steel.
These images are found at the top of the staircase, which leads to the Suite Level.
Just lighted panels... *sigh*
Mauer steps in for the first time.
The view from our Loge Box
Gate 29 escalators
The Fifth Street side is pretty busy. There's a small street entrance to the B ramp, then ticket booths and an entrance gate, a rare exterior section not covered in limestone, the wooden screen covering the circulation ramps, the administration building, and finally (just out of view) the interface with Northstar. All of that sits behind the LRT action. How pedestrians will interact with this side of the park is a great mystery to me. You know that Metro Transit won't be letting them cross the tracks anywhere but at either end of the block...
Larry DiVito, mowing
The 1963 team won 91 games! (Click to enlarge and see the names)
Two train stations
I don't think this will remain a knothole, but the view is pretty cool.
The green in question (click for very large version)
This is the Metropolitan Club as viewed from the future Ballpark Authority office space.
This looks up Sixth Street from Hennepin. Just imagine what this will look like during a night game!
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)
Awesome seat. Awesome sun. Awesome hitter. (Photo by Tony Voda, courtesy Jared Wieseler)
Larry DiVito, mowing
Don Swanson, left, in-coming commander of the Richfield American Legion, and Joe Kennedy, right, out-going commander, are pictured with the Legion's new flag pole, which once stood at old Metropolitan Stadium. (Click to enlarge.)
At the end of the balcony you can see down the promenade.