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How far back does your Twins fandom go?

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An age test, if you will.

Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/MLB Photos via Getty Images

You guys. I was today years old when the realization hit me: I’m old AF.

I mean, I’m not old in the sense of needing a walker with tennis balls just yet, but if you ask my kids, they’ll 100% call me a boomer because I don’t part my hair in the middle and I use too many emojis in my texts. (For the record, I fall squarely in that teensy microgeneration known as Xennial - between Gen X and Millennial.) I was my kids’ ages when the Twins won their World Series in ’87 and ’91. I grew up idolizing Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, and Gary Gaetti. I cried like a baby when Kirby was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and cried even harder when he died.

I was close enough to the end of the Killer/Carew/Oliva days to know they were to be respected and revered. I am also old enough to use the classic Tom Kelly in Zubaz with a stogie at the ‘dome photo and the Bert Blyleven in his “I heart to fart” shirt when describing badassery.

The epitome of badassery

I’m old enough to know that Ron Gant was clearly out at first in the ’91 series and that Hrbek was merely helping him back to the dugout.

Hrbek Gant Game 2 1991 WS

I remember the Soul Patrol in the outfield, and the ‘Get to Know ‘em’ ad campaign. I remember the “Latroy Hawkins Fan Club” and Magic Number signs in the outfield seats of the Metrodome. I ran into Johan Santana during Spring Training back before he was a starter - a relatively unknown reliever at the time - and he was surprised that I even recognized him. I remember Ozzie Guillen dubbing the early-mid 2000’s team “The Piranhas” and Mike Redmond starting the ‘Smell ‘em’ pose.

In early 2010, I was set to name my first born child Joseph, after Joe Mauer. However Joe had not yet signed his mega-extension and I would have hated myself if he’d have signed with the Yankees (which, would have absolutely happened had I named my child Joe.) So my first-born’s middle name ended up being Joseph, just to be safe - the $23 million per year deal was inked less than a month after my kid was born, but I stand by my choice. I still chuckle thinking of the mid-2000’s commercials featuring Torii Hunter and Johan Santana and Joe Nathan. I have a framed version of Morneau and Cuddy and Mauer’s ‘bat breaking work’ ad from when Target Field was being constructed. I wept with grown-ass men in the stands at Mauer’s last game in 2018 when he came out in the catcher’s gear for one last time.

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
My kids at Joe Mauer’s last game.

I have been a Twins fan since I was a teeny, tiny one, way back in the early 1980’s, and I always will be. So why am I writing about just now realizing I’m ‘old’ by the standards of today’s youth?

Fast forward to September 2020, when I put on my mask, walked into Cub Foods, and bought my maximum allowed 5 Homer Hankies. The teenaged kid checking out my purchase had no idea what a Homer Hankie was or why all these middle aged people were coming in to grab them by the fistful. I remember posting on social media (not on Tik Tok, but those ancient platforms that we call Instagram and Twitter) about it:

This was my first inkling that maybe I’m starting to be one of those old timers that talked about the golden days of their youth, just like my dad did when he talked about Jim Kaat and Harmon Killebrew. I couldn’t be turning into that yet - I’m too young, right? I mean.. I have tattoos and purple hair and still like going to see live bands and cool shit, so I can’t be old.. right? No, no. This kid was just a turd, and isn’t super into baseball. Whew. I’m not old, he’s just a dick. Yes. That’s it.

Now let’s talk about what happened a few days ago, when I was telling someone about my 6 month old kittens, Bomba and Rosario (named before Rosie went to Cleveland.) Of course this person knew the origins of their names - they’re relevant-ish to the current Twins era. I explained that we also have our old-man cat, Herbie - full name Meowser Hrbek - and that Herbie really lived up to his namesake (he’s quite large). The person I was saying this to gave me that <blink blink> look and had no idea what I was talking about. And it hit me: this person has no idea who Kent Hrbek even is - or if they do, they clearly didn’t grow up idolizing him, nor did they have any idea what he looks like today.

My cat, Meowser Hrbek, aka Herbie

At what point did I become an ‘elder’ when compared to the rest of the Twinkie Town writers and readers? Are our ‘87 and ’91 championships as ‘meh’ to them as the 1965 AL championship was to me as a kid? I’m barely in my 40’s, but I might as well have been born in the 1940’s if you ask my kids. They’re astonished to know I was born in the 1900’s.

When we watch movies made in the 80’s and 90’s, or classic baseball games like they’d been showing during the beginning of lockdown (like the 1987 AL Championship or World Series), I realize they’re being forced to watch stuff that to them is as old as what would have been from the 40’s and 50’s when I was a kid. That all seemed SO old to me, in grainy and black and white and not very interesting. And yes, we still had a 13” black and white TV in our kitchen as our second TV - the main TV was in our family room, with knobs you had to manually turn and only like four channels to turn to (we couldn’t always splurge on cable).

If you got up for a snack during the commercials and took too long and you missed a big hit or play, you hoped they’d show it on the highlights on the news later, otherwise you were doomed to never see it. You couldn’t pause and go back. There was none of this ginormous-flat-screen-in-every-room streaming what we want when we want it business.

One of the best parts of Corona lock down, right there.

There it is, my friends This is when it happened. I’m talking about the good old days. I’ve officially become the old lady of this site, shaking my fist at those damn kids speeding down my street, to get off my lawn, and reminiscing about the good old days, way back 30 years ago when the Twins actually won championships. Or when they even made it past the ALDS. Or even before there even WAS an ALDS - back in my day, there was the ALCS and the World Series. No wild card. No play-in games. No getting booted from the playoffs after two freaking games to a team that wasn’t even playing .500 baseball, as was the case in 2020. Back in my day, players still smoked during the game and there were no advanced stats to obsess over. They could either hit and field, or they couldn’t.

And you know what? I’m ok with it, because those days (and players) were totally tubular rad gnarly righteous bitchin’ fetch on fleek awesome. I will always be able to name the entire 1987 Twins squad (except maybe a few relievers). I will always remember jumping up and down in my basement, watching that giant box of a TV with knobs instead of a remote, wearing a red turtleneck and white Twins sweatshirt, with my hair in a weird ponytail situation held in place by a scrunchy, waving my Homer Hankie as hard as I could as the Twins won the 1991 World Series. I will always remember walking into the marshmallow topped monstrosity known as the Metrodome, taking in the sight of the unnaturally green turf, branded with the Twins logo behind home plate, and those garbage bags for walls in the outfield, and getting whooshed out the doors after the game. I will always remember my dad (who passed away in 2017) when I think of those days. I am not ashamed to be the old lady on the writing staff, because those days were about as good as they get.

Me (left), my sister, and my dad at the Metrodome, circa late 90’s/early 2000’s

So I turn to you, dear readers. How far back does YOUR fandom go?

xo,

Marea