With the Metrodome deliberately deflated Saturday and continuing to come down in the days to come, I started thinking about my first ever Twins game, which took place in the same building.
As an outstate youth -- about as far outstate as you can get up in Roseau, Minn. -- I didn't get to a Twins game until I was nearly a teenager. I was headed into my seventh grade year, taking in a Twins game as a part of a church function called M.U.U.U.C.E. (Most Ultimate Unbelievable Urban Camping Escape). It was about as cheesy as it sounds, complete with no showers -- which in retrospect is a terrible idea for a weekend with kids aged 12-14 -- and every wacky youth leader you've ever met.
It was a weekend-long youth group, more or less.
But the first of three years making this trip was the only year we took in a Twins game. In subsequent years we went to a roller rink and to someplace else, but I don't remember where exactly nobody really cares about that.
I remember seeing the Metrodome years before when we were down to see my brother in the hospital. My reaction could be termed nothing short of the awe and majesty from a nine or ten-year old who couldn't have known any better. That same level of awe hit me just after were whooshed into the stadium through the revolving doors. As I walked along the 200-level concourse with a couple pals, I peered into the opening which showed a narrow strip of the field: the third base line.
My mind went crazy. That's where they play! It was as if the thought hadn't already crossed my mind that this would be occurring now, some 20 minutes before the first pitch.
Years later it's sort of hard for me to recall exactly what day the game was. The Red Sox were in town, and as I recall Nomar Garciaparra homered that night. Shouldn't be too hard to find, right?
Right. On Friday Aug. 21, the Twins and Red Sox opened a three-game set with a 7:07 first pitch. The game pitted a pair of lefties against each other in Steve Avery and Eric Milton. Avery would go seven innings as the Twins provided little resistance with the only run coming on a Matt Lawton home run after the Red Sox had staked their starter to a 7-0 lead. Milton wouldn't make it out of the second, as he allowed three runs -- on a Damon Buford home run -- to go with five walks.
The Garciaparra home run came off Todd Ritchie, and as I remember it was wrapped around the left field foul pole. By that point, the announced crowd of 16,786 had been whittled down to virtually zip, and our group dashed down to hang out right behind the Twins bullpen. I remember tracking the Garciaparra home run, and it being caught by a guy who wasn't even looking when the ball was hit. He simply caught the ball bare-handed, and went back to the conversation he was having with the guy to his right.
The only other thing I truly remember about the game was that some women handed a baby to Hector Carrasco in the bullpen in like the seventh or eighth, and the baby sat on his lap for at least a half inning.
Having been to all 81 home games last season as well as countless games in the interim, the luster has surely worn off. Not only for the now departed Metrodome, but even the exclusive areas of Target Field which I'm granted to on a game-by-game basis. Still, I don't think I'll ever forget just how awesome that first trip to the Metrodome was.
Tell us about your first Twins game in the comments below!