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Baseball & Family (Part 5): Sister Act

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The Odd Couple of ballpark experiences

For many years—ironically my younger ones—going to a baseball game was “serious business”, filled with certain rituals not to be trifled with. You arrived early, always were engaged in the action, only took bathroom/concession breaks when the Twins weren’t batting, and under no circumstances left before the final out was recorded.

But then, right around the time that Target Field’s gates swung open, I started going to games with my youngest sister and my serious routine changed—for the better.

You see, my sister is not a baseball fanatic. She can tell you the basics (nine innings, three strikes, etc.), but not who’s leading the Central at the moment or has the best batting average on the team. She simply loves outings to our beautiful home ballpark, taking pleasure in such things as a night outdoors, nachos in a helmet, app games, and postgame fireworks.

So in other words, the exact opposite of myself pre-2010. As we began to attend more games together (we usually get to at least 3-4 each season), her style began to rub off on me. Instead of being so horsehide-focused, I learned to just relax and enjoy the ambiance of it all. Today, I experience baseball almost completely different from my recliner (still fairly intense) versus a green stadium seat (more loosey-goosey, if you will). I owe most of that to these brother/sister outings.

Of course, a little of my hardcore fandom has rubbed off on her in the process. Her favorite players? Joe Mauer, who we saw walk off the Red Sox in 2017, and Brian Dozier, he of the megawatt smile and ability to Hit the Quan like no other. To this day she could probably identify every member of the ‘17 squad strictly by their walk-up music.

Even getting to the park often turned into an adventure all its own. On one occasion, while riding the NorthStar commuter train, we encountered some college bros. tossing around a carrot (I kid you not). When asked by the conductor “Where did that carrot come from?”, one of them didn’t miss a beat and—with a completely straight face—replied “The ground”.

Our greatest baseball-themed adventure transpired in 2015, when I had the crazy idea of following the Twins on road stops to Texas and St. Louis. In a certain sense, the entire trip was one disaster after another. We weathered car trouble, sat through two long rain delays, and the Twins lost all four games we attended. To this day, I have not forgiven Aaron Hicks for this error.

While I planned and panicked in equal amounts, she simply went with the flow, having as much fun mugging with figures at a wax museum stop or eating Pizza Hut in our hotel room after being caught in the most torrential downpour I’ve ever experienced. Somehow, we still managed to have a great time and look back on that trip fondly.

One of the toughest things about summer 2020 has been—and will continue to be—the inability to share such ballpark outings. While I’ll at least take some solace in watching the Twins on TV come late-July (knock on wood, crossing fingers, etc.), she won't really be drawn back into the sport until she’s allowed to stroll through the gates.

Rest assured, as soon as Target Field is open to the public again, we’ll be back to our usual shenanigans. I’ll still never leave a game early, though—some habits are too deeply ingrained to be broken, even by the Oscar to my Felix :)