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Game 117: Texas at Twins

Texas just fired their manager and GM, so hopefully that doesn’t fire up their players tonight.

Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins
This was him in a happy moment.
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Start time: 7:10 Central

Weather: Chances of rain decreasing, first pitch 69°

Opponent’s SB site: Lone Star Ball

TV: Steve Jobs Network. Radio: Will be different now for sure, especially afternoon/weekend postgames

You will no doubt remember today’s Texas starter, lefthander Martín Pérez, from his disappointing 2019 Twins season. (Granted, he made no appearances in that year’s disastrous playoff beatdown, so at least that one wasn’t his fault.) He spent the next two years in Boston, and probably the most notable thing about that tenure is a minor jersey number kerfluffle.

Apparently, some mistaken tweet or other from the Red Sox announced that the newly-signed Pérez would be wearing #33. Alas, this was former catcher Jason Varitek’s number, and while not officially retired by Boston, no other player had worn it since. Sox fans got extremely upset, as they are wont to do, and so did Varitek’s wife. Happily, Pérez immediately switched numbers. Everyone was happy. Crisis averted!

Pérez has had something of a comeback season so far, back with his original MLB club. Who knows, maybe the same will happen to Dylan Bundy after he moves on. YTD digits:

Pérez relies heavily on a low-90s fastball he can throw several ways, also using a changeup and a curve. This year it’s a cutter that’s been working for him.

Tonight, I thought we’d take a look at the sculptor who created Target Field’s statues. And then there’s a connection which leads us somewhere completely different. Stick with me.

Minnesota artist Bill Mack came to my attention because a senior citizen I was driving to a medical appointment (this is my job) had been telling me a story about an old restaurant that used to be in Bloomington. (Often, seniors will tell you about things in the neighborhood which have changed over time.)

The restaurant was called “Camelot,” and served rather upper-end cuisine in an unusual decorative setting. From a 1999 article in Mpls./St. Paul magazine that I can’t find online, but is excerpted here, you can read original owner Hans Skalle’s description:

I got the idea to open my own restaurant. I thought Bloomington needed something with a continental menu. When my wife, Mavis, and I were in Hawaii for a conference, we saw a restaurant made of stone and we conceived the idea of a restaurant that would look like a castle. My son, Hans II, had been playing with toy knights and said, “Dad, call it `Camelot.’”

We were published in many national magazines because of our interior. Unfortunately, people started to take things—the spears that were on the walls and a beautiful bench from downstairs. Original paintings also disappeared. This happened early, just after we opened, and we had to put big screws in everything to protect it.

I was amazed when we opened. Everybody came. People waited an hour or two to get in. We had to shut the lights off at the entrance, so people wouldn’t keep coming. On Saturday nights, we would serve almost 1,000 people. The menu was new and different, and it was an instant success.

I never did cook, but I do know a lot about food and hired the right people. People from all over the country—from New Orleans to San Francisco—tried to steal my employees.

All kinds of people came to the Camelot, including Walter Mondale, Bert Parks, and Harry Reasoner. One of our regular customers was a woman who had a chauffeur and would come at exactly five o’clock, when we opened the doors for dinner. She came every weekend for years and always had the rack of lamb.

We sold the Camelot in 1980 because we were worn out. Mr. Rauenhorst bought it and operated it for a while, then sold it to Bill Mack, a sculptor who uses it as his studio and gallery.

This led me to Mack, who describes himself on his website as “an unusual man and artist.” A painter as well as a sculptor, most of his sculptures are in “relief,” an art term for sculptures that bulge out from some kind of flat surface such as a wall. The Target Field sculptures are free-standing statues, however, and required quite a bit of creativity on Mack’s part.

This fun 2010 article by ESPN’s Maria Burns Ortiz describes the process, which involved 100-hour workweeks for Mack and his team. There was also quite a bit of feedback and adjustment from Twins executives and the athletes themselves. As Kirby Puckett was no longer alive, Mack relied on input from his widow, Tonya, who said “his butt was too small.”

You can have some fun poking around on Mack’s website, from pictures of the man himself (he sports suede leather and a handlebar mustache) to his odd fascination with metal pieces from the original Hollywood sign (he paints old movie icons on the pieces.) Or just check out the artwork. There’s a lot of nudes. They’re all tastefully-done, though, and obscure the Naughty Bits.

As for Mack’s house/studio, the old Camelot restaurant, it’s still in Bloomington. Mpls./St. Paul had a small slideshow of pictures here. There’s also this short video. It’s certainly an interesting house and intentionally quirky artist:

Longtime WCCO followers will notice that the video is hosted by radio/TV fixture Mike Max.

And I just found out that Mike Max was laid off from WCCO Radio. Budget cuts from corporate, it would seem. It’s unknown if he’ll continue with the TV station.

Although Max’s presence was often just soothing background noise on the radio, he played a significant role in reporting on local amateur athletes over the years on WCCO-TV. This meant he knew a lot of families from a lot of neighborhoods. Mike Max with a camera crew was a familiar presence in every part of the Twin Cities.

And that meant that when sometimes violent protests began after the murder of George Floyd, Mike Max was right there in the middle of it.

I remember that first night, every other local TV station was covering things from a rooftop or helicopter camera. Not WCCO, and not Mike Max. He was downtown, on the street, interviewing people about what they felt. To their credit, WCCO didn’t bleep out the cusswords, either. It was far the most important reporting being done on TV at that moment.

In the aftermath of those events, one of Bill Mack’s statues, that of Cal Griffith, was removed from Target Field. Griffith’s history of racially offensive statements should be pretty well-known to most of you. If not, here’s an overview.

Bill Mack’s statue of cheapskate (but not overtly racist) Carl Pohlad remains.

And if you look closely at that website above describing the original Camelot restaurant, you’ll see this in the handful of “Memories” listed on the bottom:

“Hans Skalle was a good friend of mine. The Camelot was great and had a better-balanced menu than many of the restaurants around.”

Guess who that quote’s attributed to? “Carl Pohlad, Edina.”

Many miles away, there's a shadow on the door of a cottage on the shore of a dark Scottish lake...

Today's Lineups

Marcus Semien - 2B Byron Buxton - CF
Corey Seager - SS Carlos Correa - SS
Nathaniel Lowe - 1B Luis Arraez - 1B
Adolis Garcia - RF Jose Miranda - DH
Jonah Heim - C Gio Urshela - 3B
Leody Taveras - CF Jorge Polanco - 2B
Brad Miller - DH Gilberto Celestino - LF
Josh Smith - 3B Max Kepler - RF
Bubba Thompson - LF Sandy Leon - C
Martin Perez - LHP Dylan Bundy - RHP