Twins Home Opener – A True Tradition – Balls 252-255 (April 7, 2014)
Oakland Athletics 8 – Minnesota Twins 3
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
April 7, 2014
For the 5th consecutive year, my friend Jared and I attended the home opener at Target Field (which is now in its fifth season). It is a sort of holiday for us, even if we have to work (like I did today). Even though I completed my blog entry at 11:30 last night and set my alarm for 5 am so that I could put in the hours needed at work, my tiredness did not dampen my mood… though the result of the game did slightly.
Baseball is back!!
For the first time in over 6 months I was back at my home field. Even though I had a blast in Florida and fell in love in Chicago, it was still special and wonderful to be back at my familiar stomping grounds. We got to the stadium around 10:30, for the 3:10 game, and after a half an hour of walking around the stadium, we were still the first at the most popular gate – Gate 34. Kirby Puckett, Jr. would open the gate for us and since I chose the correct gate, I got to shake his hand as I walked through the turnstiles. In fact, I even got my photo taken by some sort of news photographer, which is cool and all, but I also had to stop and wait as he asked for my name and how to spell it. Even though it was a 20-30 second delay, it prevented me from being the first to the overhang area in right field – a spot where Waldo of all people would end up getting a ball right away.
I was shut out during Twins BP, so I worked my way over to the A’s dugout as they warmed up. Eventually I got the attention of former Twin and now A’s coach, Chip Hale. He tossed me a random ball that he used for infield practice and was I shocked to find…
An OPENING DAY ball?! Weird. I was not expecting this for a BP ball, but it must have been from a previous series and ended up in their bucket of balls. I was unsure and doubtful that the Twins would use an Opening Day ball for the game, so I was stoked to add a commemorative I thought I had no shot at.
Well, I only said I thought I had no shot at it. During the A’s BP the umpires came out for some informational talks with who I can only assume were the connections for the replay folks back in New York. Another man, Clyde Doepner, introduced himself to the umpires and when I overheard his name I freaked out a little. My college friend from last weekend? Well, his wife knows Clyde and told me about how he is the Twins curator and might have the coolest job in the world (and best collection of Twins stuff, period). Since Clyde is kind of all knowing and always seeking memorabilia for his collection, I figured I’d ask about the possibility of “Opening Day” commemoratives being used. He was told that they would be using them and interested in getting some for historical reference.
Clyde is no liar. His sources were correct, and my sources were awesome. Chris Colabello hooked me up with the first ball taken from the game ready bag that were to be used in the game. So before the team intros and national anthem was sung I had a beautiful memento of my 5th home opener.
I was pretty happy with my haul, especially for cutting it in half. (Hey, getting regular MLB balls when I was snagging Opening Day ones was not exactly thrilling, so those went to the next generation of potential ballhawks.) I wanted (as always) to snag a few more, but wasn’t overly set on going out of my way to do so. It was a special day, the first of what becomes a routine, so why not soak it all in before it becomes “ordinary” again?
National Anthem being sung with an eagle looking on (a second rehabilitated eagle would appear later and a third wild one would fly over the game towards the end).
First Pitch at Target Field in 2014.
Though it was about 60 degrees (nice and warm for MN standards in early April), making an ice sculpture was salt on our fragile wounds – we had just received 6-18″ of snow the previous Friday. This terrible reminder of a long winter was pretty at least.
After the twins were retired in the 2nd, we all stood up to cancer. As you can see, I stood for my grandma who is just about 5 years clear of breast cancer. It is sad to see how many names and the ripple of how many people are affect by various cancers, but it is also wonderful hearing the success stories, and knowing that so many people are trying to prevent at least one person from ending up as a name on a card.
At the top of the 7th, with Samuel Deduno warming up on the mound, a pitch in the dirt created a scuff deemed unacceptable by the umpire. This scuffed beauty was given to my favorite Bat Boy, Dominique, and then thrown to me for my first Target Field gamer of 2014. Dominique is incredibly cool and always seems to hook me up with a great souvenir.
What an unbearable scuff?! How dare they use that again?! No worries, it now belongs to me. (Note Dominique in the background to the right of the ball.)
The last ball of the day was a post-game toss by the second coolest bat boy in the game, Mario. Mario is the visiting team’s bat boy and has hooked me up in the past (even with a Chicago White Sox line up card).
Four balls, four Opening Day commemoratives. This puts my regular season count at only 9 in 2 games, but SEVEN are commemoratives. EXCELLENT!!
And here is the photo of the hall:
(I forgot to mention it, but Chris Colabello signed the ball that he tossed to me. Pretty neat, considering he was coming into the game with a .391 average and 11 RBIs early in the season.)
And how about a photo of all of the commemoratives of the past 60 hours?
It makes me so happy to see those in my collection. Hopefully 2014 is a good year for getting special baseballs.
- Chip Hale – A surprising commemorative from a former Twin is a good start for Target Field in 2014.
- Chris Colabello – A ball AND a signature?! What a cool and humble dude.
- Dominique – Like I have said many times, you are AWESOME! Thanks for another ball in a new year.
- Mario – Similar to Dominic, thanks for being generous and helping me out, especially with the cool stuff like commemoratives and line up cards. You even hooked me up with a 2013 Opening Day ball. Maybe a new tradition is forming?
- Jared – Traditions are cool. Traditions are good. Now let’s continue this tradition, but snap the 3 year streak of losing on the opener.
- Mother Nature – From a snowstorm on Friday to mid-30s as the high last year, you certainly changed your tune and made 2014’s opener enjoyable.