Yesterday was supposed to be the day. Opening day. Since I can’t even watch a live little league game, let alone a major league game at this moment, I thought I’d take the time to write about my memories of attending a weekend series at the Oakland Coliseum on June 1, 2, and 3, 2007. After all, it’s that very stadium in which the Twins should be playing as this is written. Not to mention the inescapable fact that writing about baseball right about now is a struggle, so whatever tenuous connections I can make, are now being made.
It was a weekend in a rather mundane season in which the Twins ended up 79-83 and 17 games out. So, the fact that the Twins lost 2 of 3 that series seems about par for that particular course. But here’s what I remember, or at least what I think I remember.
Kevin Slowey (remember him) started Friday’s night’s game in his major league debut. He pitched very well giving up one run, and five hits, in six innings. He struck out three and walked two, and didn’t figure in the decision.
The Twins won Friday night 3-2, but lost on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, a game started by Johan Santana. The Saturday night, June 2nd, game was actually pretty memorable, however. The Twins lost 1-0, and had three hits, but what stands out is that the game was among the fastest ever played in Twins history, One hour and 49 minutes. It’s almost inconceivable today to think a game could be played in that amount of time. I almost felt cheated, except for the fact that it was freezing that night (which it sometimes is at home night games in Oakland).
In today’s world in which there are constant conversations about the length of baseball games, I may be among the few reading this who’ve ever attended a full nine-inning game (The A’s didn’t need the bottom of the ninth actually) that lasted less than two hours.
I was at a conference in San Francisco and took BART right to the stadium. For those of you who’ve done that sort of thing, when you take BART from San Francisco to Oakland it means that you are traveling under the water of San Francisco Bay. All of which should be a testament to human ingenuity and engineering, but frankly, it’s also a bit unnerving given that San Francisco isn’t just famous for Rice (Jerry and the edible kind) but also for Fisherman’s Wharf, the Transamerica Pyramid, the Seven Sisters, and….earthquakes.
In truth, it was somewhat disconcerting to this particular Midwesterner who had never experienced an earthquake to be under the bay in rapid transit. Never having been in an earthquake didn’t preclude my belief that perhaps one place that might not be ideal if one occurred, would be to be in a rapid transit train under water…but I digress.
Which brings me to the Stadium. By 2007 the Coliseum had already suffered the indignity of the vast concrete triple deck outfield stands built for the Oakland Raiders, and the A’s weren’t that great, nor were they drawing that many people.
Tickets were easily obtained just by walking up, and after buying a ticket you could sit anywhere. The “boxes” behind home plate that we see there now, weren’t there then, and there simply weren’t the separate sections and security guards that prevent that sort of sitting anywhere sort of malfeasance today. I was alone, so I basically sat everywhere over the course of three games. In fact, it was incredibly easy to “socially distance” at Oakland A’s games long before social distancing became a thing.
The weather, as can happen in the Bay Area was absolutely fantastic on Friday night, absolutely freezing on Saturday night (that also may have contributed to the speed of the game) and beautiful again on Sunday afternoon. I basically lived a weekend stereotype in the Bay Area watching our beloved Twins.
That was the short of it.
Here’s the long of it.
One of my favorite and most amazing childhood baseball memories involved a twi-light doubleheader at Metropolitan Stadium against, of course, the Oakland A’s. I always wanted my Dad to take me to a double-header, which were actually fairly plentiful in the 1970s, as I really couldn’t go to too many Twins games, so getting to see two in one night was awesome. It was a fantastic memory. I also remember Reggie Jackson playing right field and engaging with the fans a bit, which was also kind of mind-boggling way back in the 1970s. It was a very different time.
But I also remember something that was truly incredible in that era, something that blew the minds of the fans in the stands that night. The A’s were the first team to have multiple jerseys. Not just home whites and road grays, but white, green, and gold. While the Twins were, of course, resplendent in their home whites, The A’s changed jerseys between games. It was amazing. It doesn’t seem particularly remarkable now, I concede. But it was remarkable then.
Times change, you sort of had to be there. But truly, it was mind boggling for a ten-year-old in the 1970s, to see the team wear gold jerseys in the first game and change to green for the second, and I’ve always appreciated the A’s since then. While the Twins are my team, if you forced me to pick a second favorite AL team (though I don’t know why you’d require that of me) I may pick the A’s. I can’t imagine why that would be the case, other than that night a very long time ago in a stadium that no longer exists. And that, is both the long and the short of it.