In front of my Dad & I (and 50,000 other Dome dwellers), an intense Minnesota-Oakland rivalry led to a Canseco blunder, an improbable comeback, and a Twins walk-off that propelled them to a division title.
And now, the conclusion...
A lot can happen in 30 years. An entire generation comes of age, America “rolls by like an army of steamrollers” (to crib from James Earl Jones), and baseball-loving sons continue to enjoy the sport that their baseball-loving fathers likely instilled within them. About the only thing that never changes over the course of three decades? Hill Valley Principal Strickland’s follicular-challenged dome.
Anyway, over those years my Dad and I have made it a point to get to some Twins “reunion specials”, if you will. In 1997, I remember seeing Kirby Puckett in a snazzy leather jacket celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Minnesota’s first professional sports championship. I’m pretty sure we were at the Dome for the 20-year ‘07 gala too—mainly because I can recall the sadness of Kirby not being around for it.
A few years ago—six already? sheesh—we witnessed the very special 1965 American League Champion ball club reunion. The thrilling 7-game World Series between the Twins and Dodgers was recounted (at one point by Vin Scully!), and Dad got to see many of the players he grew up idolizing at the “Old Met”.
This season, it only made sense that we’d be back at Target Field for the 30-year celebration of the 1991 championship. That’s exactly where we found ourselves on August 14, as the Twins hosted the Tampa Bay
In a pre-game ceremony before first pitch, the Twins organization feted all the members of that ‘91 squad. We had a perfect vantage point (middle deck, just up from third base) for the festivities and my Dad knows his way around a digital camera with a great zoom lens. The results of that combination...
- Master of Ceremonies: Dick Bremer
- John Gordon—my favorite “voice of the Twins” and he of “touch ‘em all” fame—with a few opening remarks.
- The incomparable Tony-O!
- Al Newman showing the Commissioner’s Trophy some love
- Randy Bush—pinch hitter extraordinaire—pays his respects
- The ever-animated Kent Hrbek (Ron Gant was nowhere to be found for a rematch)
- Hot Chili
- Dazzle showing off the guns
- Gags looking good
- Scott Erickson—still the epitome of cool
- Black Jack admires the trophy his Game 7 masterpiece helped bring home
- Minus cigar & Zubaz (sadly), TK throws out the ceremonial first pitch
- The whole gang
It was great to see the ‘91 gang gathered together again. I was all of five years old during that postseason run, so my major memory is of my aunt bringing me a Homer Hanky and having fun waving that around while the adults were gathered in front of the 19” RCA. Even at that young age, though, I could sense what a “big deal” it all was. Because the contests concluded well past my kindergarten bedtime, I made my Dad promise to whisper the winner in my ear when all was said a done—a promise that was faithfully executed (at least as far as I know).
After the nostalgic festivities, there was of course an actual game to be played between the Twins & Rays. It ended up being a rather surprising 12-0 MN laugher over a solid Tampa club, which was fun to witness. Along the way, here are some of the shots my Dad captured of the game-related action...
- Rocco chats with TK (to be a fly in the wall in that convo)
- Kenta Maeda warms up with the Crane technique, undoubtedly taught to him by a Miyagi-like mentor
- Donaldson trying to keep those calves healthy by any means necessary
- Family reunion with Boomstick
- Red-hot Polanco limbers up the arm before go-time
- Kenta lets one fly
- Arraez drives a single into right field
- Mad Max jogs around the circuit after putting one in the seats
- The big man awaits a play at the first sack
- Cruz calmly waits to unleash his destruction
From one point of view, the August 14 Twins-Rays contest meant almost nothing. A last place team upsetting a first-place one, but the outcome assuredly not changing either team’s overall outlook on the ‘21 season.
Yet, it ended up being a very enjoyable night at the ballpark. The kind of experience that Target Field was made for, in all honesty. A celebration of better baseball days, with a little bit of unexpected present-day fun mixed in. The power of baseball, to be sure.
It’s possible that the Twins could do something in 2022 for the 35th anniversary of the ‘87 title. More likely, though, would be a bigger event in ‘27 for the fortieth. I’m just imagining the pics Dad will be able to get of that. I’m sure we’ll be there.