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 3037 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
It's pretty easy to see right into the Twins dugout!
B ramp glimpse
This is the LRT bridge under construction as viewed from the east looking west. The ballpark facade would be at the left in this photo.
A whole bunch of guys working on something.
This is a good overview of the spot where the Northstar (bottom) and LRT (top) will intersect.
Note the speakers hanging beneath that deck
The connection from the corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue. You can now see where the little grassy area and franchise history board will be (the triangular area in the foreground).
Hubert's remains the only sports bar within site of the Dome after 28 years of its existence. It's a cautionary tale.
Click to see the whole page from this 1971 program.
Hardware in the window! (But why are there three trophies? 1924?)
This would be easy to miss, but I found it on a cart located directly behind the Batter's Eye seating on the upper concourse in center field.
Two signs visible from beyond the confines of the ballpark.
Seventh Street windows
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).
One more exterior view shows that, while the original look was attractive in a way, it seems to be a variation on the look of the Washington ballpark (albeit with a much more coherent collection of elements). What's remarkable is that the design team has refined the concept amazingly well, improving it immeasurably. What we're actually getting is clearly descended from this, but it's in a whole different league:
After the rain. (We were in the wrong spot to see the rainbow...)
Ballpark magic: Infield materializes (click to enlarge)
Home Plate Terrace -- really great seats; maybe my personal, budget-based favorite
You write the caption...
Here's a detail from the above image, showing the LED strips up close.
Looking down Sixth Avenue toward the plaza
Checking out the bike racks on the promenade.
Lots of pix waiting to be seen from Bert's memorable night.
Click to see the whole, beautiful image. (Photo by Tyler Wycoff)
(Click to enlarge.)
Since pictures of the ballpark are forbidden, perhaps you'll enjoy this shot of the lovely apple tree in my front yard.
Staging for the next section (Home Plate Box)
This is the left field pavilion in the original concept model. The restaurant pictured to its right has been moved, and the seating area has been extended at least one full section toward center.