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The night Target Field became real

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Has it really been a full decade of outdoor baseball?!

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

A month ago, I chronicled my initial gut reaction to Target Field. However, it took me some time that year to actually stroll through the new park’s gates.

That first crossing of the the threshold came on May 3, 2010. Somewhat oddly, I remember very little about the experience, despite it being a solid victory for the cream-colored, pinstriped-jersey good guys. The Twins scored four runs in the first off Detroit’s Max Scherzer, including a three-run homer from Michael Cuddyer. The next inning? Three more runs, largely courtesy of a Denard Span triple and Orlando Hudson. Minnesota would ultimately cruise to a 10-4 victory, with Scott Baker picking up the W.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

For the most part, though, those details come from Baseball Reference and not my own memory banks. Besides the Cuddy home run, everything else is a bit fuzzy. Perhaps I was simply in awe of this new experience called “outdoor baseball”. Maybe I was amazed by the spectacle of individual urinals—not troughs—in the men’s room. Heck, conceivably I may have been coming to the realization that Schweigert’s Big Dog had nothing on Hormel’s Dome Dog. Either way, my first Target Field trip was a blur.

Fortunately, I was back again for the next game—May 4—with my Dad, and that’s the contest I’ll always remember as the night I started to love Target Field.

A back-and-forth affair to the end, Nick Blackburn squared off against Dontrelle Willis. Once again, the Twins jumped out to an early lead, 2-0, thanks to run-scoring hits from Jim Thome and Delmon Young. In the top of the fourth, though, the Tigers’ dynamic duo of Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera struck to tie the game.

After sending Willis to the showers in the bottom of the sixth, new Twin J.J. Hardy put Minnesota back in front with an RBI single.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

Having thrown just 85 pitches and seemingly holding the Tigers at bay, Gardy let Blackburn try for the CG. Unfortunately, the second pitch of the top of the ninth was blasted to deep right field by Brennan Boesch. 3-3. Blackie did finish the rest of the inning, but now the club would need a walk-off to prevail.

They got it, albeit in wild fashion.

After a Young groundout against Detroit reliever Ryan Perry, Hardy blasted a ball to deep left-center—the kind of moonshot that would have easily cleared the Metrodome wall and ended the game. But not in the elements, and not in the deepest part of this new place. Hardy ended up on 3B with catcher Wilson Ramos striding to the plate (subbing in temporarily for Joe Mauer, in the midst of a brief absence precipitated by a left heel bruise).

After taking a strike, Ramos again held up on Perry’s second offering—which Detroit C Alex Avila could not handle. The ball bounded to the backstop and Hardy sprinted home. Shoot off the fireworks and cue up Beautiful Day—Twins win! The announced 39,020 got to go home happy.

Before that unconventional walk-off, Target Field was still little more than an idea to me. This mirrored my own life experience at that time, what with moving from rural Minnesota to the suburban metro. But when Hardy touched the plate and the crowd went wild, the new park become real—at least to me—for the first time.

What do you remember about your first game at Target Field?