Thanks For The Memories
During the early goings of September of the 2009 Twins baseball season, it looked as if game number 162 (the contest that typically ends the MLB season unless you happen to play in the Midwest) would be a great remembrance of all the baseball that the Metrodome had produced before giving way to Target Field next season. A post-game ceremony down on the field after that game was both parts touching and entertaining, but there was just one problem…the old Dome wasn’t done; it would go on to host two more games!
Thus, it never really felt as if the Metrodome got that proper sense of ending as maybe it should have…that moment when you just look around and soak it all in. Obviously, with the New York Yankees celebrating, it wasn’t the time for that feeling. That is why I would now like to relive my favorite moments of being at the Dome. Perhaps you will remember some of these as well:
-1990: My first memory of the Dome recalls seeing Kirby Puckett being given the Silver Slugger award for winning the batting title the previous year. While going through the turnstiles that day, I got a black bat “signed” by Puck that I believe I still have stashed away to this day.
-1991: Though most fans may only remember the ’91 seaons for Puckett’s Game Six and Black Jack’s Game Seven, there was also quite a heated race (at least for awhile) with the Oakland A’s. Back then, when both teams were part of the AL West division, the A’s were the powerhouse team of the circuit. They came into a summer series at the Dome and jumped way ahead of the Twins in every game thanks to the power of guys like Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Dave Henderson (looking back, can you imagine all the steroids coursing through those veins?). However, the Twins scrapped back in every game and won them all. I was lucky enough to be at the one that everyone remembers, where the Twins rallied against Dennis Eckersley (the Mariano Rivera of his day) on a triple from Chili Davis that RF Canseco played like a pin-ball down in the corner. As Jose was bouncing around, a fan overhanging right field chucked an unravelling roll of toilet paper down onto the field, only adding to the mayhem!
-1996-2000: I really began following the Twins with a passion in ’96, but from then until ’00 the Twins were perennial cellar-dwellers. Not to be deterred, though, my Dad and I would still get down to the Dome a few times each year to watch guys like Bob Tewksbury, Pat Mahomes, Brent Gates, Rich Becker, and Scott Stahoviak (among others) battle to not lose 100 games. I didn’t seem to care about the futility, I guess, as I still root-root-rooted for the home team with all I had. The attendance was so poor during those years that one could (and we often did) guy a cheap ticket and move right up behind the infield. Believe it or not, there were no users to stop people!
A more specific game from that time period involves a field trip with my sixth grade class. My exact recollection of the event is understandably a bit hazy, but the Twins were facing Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox. The game went into extra innings, the Twins loaded the bases with no outs, but then two guys (one of which I’m positive was Terry Steinbach) struck out. The next batter then singled to win the game (I want to say it was Pat Meares, but I could be wrong).
-2002: Fifteen innings of baseball against the Atlanta Braves. Bobby Cox got tossed in the first inning, the Twins roughed up Greg Maddux, and Christian Guzman’s double off the baggy scored Tom Prince (pictured above) to win it. Once you do the fourteenth-inning stretch, you never forget it!
-2002: With the Twins already having locked up the division title, they hosted the beaten White Sox to close out the season. I was at the final two games, both won by dramatic, late-inning home runs from Bobby Kielty.
-2008: With the Twins needing to sweep the White Sox in the final homestand to stay in the playoff race, they do just that. I was at all three thrillers, but of course momst remember the final contest when the Twins fell behind early but clawed back into it thanks to a dramatic triple from Denard Span. A walk-off hit from Alexi Casilla sealed it in extra innings.
So, those are my fondest, brightest memories of the Metrodome. Though many malign it as a dump and unfit for the National Pastime, it is the only home turf I have ever seen the Twins play on, and no one can take that from me. Though Target Field may prove to be a rousing success (or a miserable failure, whatever the case may be), it will always be the Dome that holds my childhood baseball nostalgia.