There isn’t a superlative in the English language capable of describing the new home of the Minnesota Twins. Although I had previously visited an empty Target Field a few weeks back during a season ticket holder open house, yesterday’s opening day experience can be summed up in two words… “Awe inspiring.”
The above photo shows only the panoramic view of Target Field reflecting off of the lenses of my sunglasses, and if you were able to scroll down you would more than likely find my mouth hanging wide open.
My girlfriend, Jenny, and I arrived at the ballpark around 1:45 following a 10-block walk through the skyway from the University of St. Thomas. This walk, due to my excitement and impatience, seemed like it took about an hour. As we moved through Target Center and Target Field slowly came into sight, I could feel my heart start beating faster, and before I knew it I was 6 steps ahead of Jenny and had to be reeled back in.
The amount of people on the Plaza was astounding. There were people huddling around the newly unveiled statue of Kirby Puckett rounding second base following his walk-off homerun during game 6 of the 1991 World Series. Many others were anxiously waiting for their chance to climb up into the pocket of the giant golden glove to have their picture taken.
I was on a direct line toward the Tradition Wall, only to be stopped once along the way to grab a bag of kettle corn (a must for every Twins game as this is the snack of choice for my usual game partner). Back in June, I suggested that it might be a good gift idea for Father’s Day to purchase a spot on the tradition wall. As I walked up to panel 5 of the wall titled “History,” we quickly found my father’s spot on the wall, “Kevin Beck & Family.”
It seemed only fitting to enter the stadium in right field through gate 34, as Kirby Puckett was my boyhood idol (not to mention I was wearing his jersey). We were immediately greeted with some wonderful SWAG (stuff we all get), including an opening day homer hanky and certificate commemorating our attendance at the first regular season game at Target Field. Had we arrived earlier we would have also received a free hat.
After a two minutes of random stopping and staring at various aspects of the masterpiece that is this ballpark, we decided to head to our seats in section 122 as the pregame festivities were about to begin.
Upon taking our seats under the overhang of the legends club, we were wondering why nobody had mentioned that we would be sitting in the designated “alcohol section," which could be described as the exact opposite of the family section which used to reside in the upper right field corner of the Metrodome. Obviously Target Field does not include designated “alcohol sections,” however, nearly every person surrounding us was absolutely bombed. At one point during the 5th inning, a guy who appeared to be in his late twenties passed out in his seat, still holding what seemed to be his 12th beer, began drooling all over himself, and woke up surrounded by 2 security guards and a Twins official who quickly handed him a small leaflet containing the “Twins Code of Conduct.”
As the pregame ceremonies rolled along, the emotions began to take over. It was awesome to see everybody from Shannon Stewart to Jack Morris raising flags in left field, a Minnesota born purple-heart recipient raising the flag on the original Metropolitan Stadium flag pole in right field, and the sheer magnitude of the American flag coupled with an F-16 fly-over and a superb rendition of the national anthem was enough to bring tears to your eyes.
But what really got me were two specific events; when Kirby Puckett Jr. was introduced, and when the historic Twins video was played on the screen before introducing the batting orders. Jenny, who was touching my arm at the time, held it up and called out the fact that she could not only feel but also see the goosebumps on my forearm.
These goosebumps only continued as the Twins took the field to the sounds of the “We’re Gonna Win Twins,” transitioning into the Black Eyed Peas anthem “I Gotta Feeling.” As Pavano readied to throw the first ever regular season pitch at Target Field, the crowd of 39,504 got progressively louder, and Pavano proceeded to throw a ball… eventually giving up a single to Marco Scutaro.
That buzz kill didn’t last long as Pavano quickly picked off Scutaro before surrendering a double to Pedroia and eventually getting out of the first inning unscathed. The Twins didn’t waste time making “firsts” history as Denard Span drew the first walk and later scored the first run with Michael Cuddyer recording the first RBI. The “firsts” continued as Span later stole the first base at Target Field, Jason Kubel delivered the first homerun, Jon Rauch recorded the first save and Pavano was credited with the first win, his second of the year.
As we made our way toward the exits, I couldn’t help but notice just how fast we were able to not only get to the concourse from our seats, but also once we were in the concourse, how fast we were able to get to the exit. Not once did we come to any sort of a “bottleneck” where foot traffic was at a standstill. This is due mostly in part to the wider concourses (and probably to the fact that many people were hanging around their seats a bit longer to soak in just a few more seconds of Target Field).
As we exited through Target Plaza, the sounds reminiscent of the Metrodome were the same, there were a couple of guys banging on metal and plastic 5-gallon buckets, and the occasional man playing the same riff on an acoustic guitar over and over, but the feeling was totally different. This time I wasn’t walking away thinking, “how much longer do I have to get literally blown out of the doors of the Metrodome and wish that the next time I attended a game we would be outdoors?” I now could turn around, look at the amazing view into Target Field and know that for more than likely the rest of my life, I will be attending Twins games at this amazing ballpark. I absolutely can’t wait to go back!
Please feel free to comment not only with thoughts on this post, but also with recommendations for future posts. I love hearing feedback! Thanks for reading!