Minnesota is something of a climatological miracle, isn't it? This was taken a scant six weeks ago:
Now, the bushes which were beneath that six-foot-tall pile of snow (which I created by hand, I might add, and which got taller after this picture was taken) are once again visible in all their winter-mangled glory.
Unlike Target Field, my grass is brown, kind of squishy, and covered with that unsettling grayish snow mold. But there's a home plate, three bases, and a pitching rubber out there. Batting practice is once again a nightly occurrence.
I can count on one hand the number of days since I had to bundle up the kids in their winter coats, but it seems like a distant memory.
So, for that matter, does Target Field.
When we last left the home of the Twins, it was on the heels of a loss to the Yankees. It's an odd parallel with this year's home opener.
But let's remember that, regardless of the outcome, those glorious October nights were completely perfect for outdoor baseball.
All throughout TF's inaugural season, it seemed like Minnesota itself -- even the shape of the prevailing winds far over our heads -- was glad to have outdoor baseball back.
Last summer seemed a little bit sunnier, a little more perfect, than any of the preceding 28, didn't it? We could all be forgiven for wishing it would never end.
But as I was leaving the last game last season, I remember that sinking sense of ending -- uncertain but palpable. At the time, there was still a chance that the boys would be back for one more game which would, if necessary, decide the ALDS. It was hard to say goodbye to the season and the ballpark that night, and I could not. I wanted to hold on to that chance.
The first season in the park had been so beautiful, full of exploration and wonder -- and great baseball. For every one of us who followed the building of the ballpark closely, there were at least a thousand who had not, and for whom a look in any direction brought a surprise.
Late in the season, I started looking for people having that experience, just to soak in their expressions. And though you could see it on the faces of kids, that was nothing compared to the faces of the older crowd. It was as if the dead had returned to life.
Baseball is a game of life and death, but a ballpark is all about life. The architecture of a good ballpark vibrates with life even when the seats are empty. Target Field does that.
When the seats fill, and the fans begin to breathe in sync with one another, and the shared experience gets stored deep within each person, good ballparks disappear into the moment. Target Field does that.
When the game is done, win or lose, the ballpark becomes a sentinel, a beacon back, a reminder that the game goes on. Good ballparks sleep lightly. Target Field does that.
After the first playoff game, I walked down to the service level, and caught an unexpected, sort of sad sight:
But when I asked the guy what would happen to those bases after he hosed them off, thinking they were about to be whisked off to either Cooperstown or eBay, his response was a bit of a surprise:
"We'll use them again tomorrow night."
There's always a next game. Even when you're watching your favorite team lose a playoff game, and there's no guarantee of another home game before winter, you know at least that there will be a next game.
So I hung around there for as long as I could, peering through the open gate out onto the now-deserted field.
I irrationally figured that, if I stood there long enough, the boys would have to come back and give the season a glorious send-off. Or, if not, maybe I could just curl up in a warm corner and hibernate until spring. (Looking back, that might have been preferred to all the shoveling.)
Eventually, I retreated through the north service gate, thinking warmly of the summer which was ending around me, feeling content that the season and the ballpark had met or exceeded most of my hopes and expectations. Even in disappointment, the Game had been great.
I took a long look back, and a few deep breaths of October air before getting into my car.
So, we didn't get that next game back then, but we're getting it today.
We're going home.
I'll see you there. (11:30 AM, gate 6, for the unveiling of the Tony Oliva statue.)
"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 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Here's the view as you step to the front of the outer moat beyond first base.
Noah is checking out the ample leg room and truly exemplary sight lines.
Oh, a flag pole will be so much more...dignified
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.
Awesome seat. Awesome sun. Awesome hitter. (Photo by Tony Voda, courtesy Jared Wieseler)
This is the view from where the plaza will connect to the walkway on the west side of Target Center. This presumably aids traffic flow back to the A ramp, and perhaps to the skyway connection (though the doors to the skyway right there are typically exit only).
Overview of the storage tracks.
Love the lighted, translucent panel
Also warming things up are these planters.
Complicated pedestrian crossing
The images on that wall appear to be of great Twins moments in history.
This area will supposedly show the Twins chronology. Will it stretch back to 1901?
Marquette looking south
Photo by Jared Wieseler
Who Owns What (Click for larger version. Source: Ballpark Authority)
I finally found the corner of TF dedicated to the Senators. What a wonderful sight.
The media had some beautiful foliage to use as a background.
This is also the promenade, where the first indications of the final texture of the walkway can be seen. This layer of concrete is going on top of gravel (as has been done over on the plaza).
Two signs visible from beyond the confines of the ballpark.
A look at Gate 34.
This shows the area where the Northstar platform connects with the ballpark (that translucent oval). Above that is the area which will house the Twins operations offices.
I was surprised at how close those upper deck seats seem. From the plaza, you feel like you can reach out and touch them. It really adds to the impression of overall compactness.
Touring the Rapid Park site (L-R: Commissioners Wade, Vekich, Sykora, Cramer, and tour guide Chuck Ballentine, source: RP)
Such promise. (Click to enlarge.)
Main concourse, looking south toward the area behind home plate.