Friday, I was in Knoxville, TN when I received an email from the Minnesota Twins’ TV station FSN North. They requested I make an appearance on their pregame show. They simply said, be at the Dome, that Monday at 3pm….and bring your Hrbek jersey.
I got in a car and drove. Stopped off in Louisville to get two bats, one for my buddy that called the Twins and one for my buddy that designed/runs the bsg website. Had dinner with a buddy in Indy Sat then stayed in Gary, Indiana Sat night. Early Sunday morning I randomly get a text from a college buddy saying he was getting ready to go to Wrigley Field. He has no idea I’m near Chicago. (Cool, Cubs are in town). 3 hours later I’m in the leftfield bleachers. I text him, to see if he’s enjoying the game and if he has good seats. He says he’s in the last row on the first base line, beautiful day, Mike Jacobs just hit is second HR for the Marlins. Florida is up 5-0.
I then borrow one of those, It’s Gonna Happen large white signs with a huge “W” on the back.
I text him, do you see in leftcenterfield bleachers there is a W about three rows deep?
He says, Yes.
I say, It’s me.
He says, No way.
Then he writes, Turn the W over.
I immediately do it.
Cubs make a crazy comeback win the game and Samardzija gets his first save. Fans mercilessly boo Uggla every time his name is mentioned, figuring his 3 errors in the All-Star game cost them WS home field advantage. Although boos turned to groans when Uggla untied the score with a knock out of the stadium.
Gotta keep driving. Get to the Twin Cities Monday morning and have lunch with my 84 year old Great UncleHartley who sent me a Homer Hanky in 1987. I still have the Game 6 review of the Star-Tribune featuring Kent Hrbek’s grand slam and a Wheaties box with the celebrating Twins.
Get to the Dome at 3pm. Meet with the producers and they take me down onto the field.
The cameraman gives me a few instructions, puts on the microphone and allows the producer to interview me. He asks me about this skill/curse, has me imitate current Twins, former Twins and two announcers, Roy Smalley and Ron Coomer.
Two highlights from the interview….while overdoing the facial expressions of Mark McGwire during an imitation I can hear laughter from the bullpen where the pitcher and catcher have stopped their warm-ups and are standing looking at us. They then get yelled at to quit playing grab-ass and get back to work. Highlight #1.
Highlight #2 was in 28 years of doing imitations I’ve never had a MLB batting champ impede my progress. When putting the finishing touches on the Derek Jeter imitation, I realized Joe Mauer was standing where the Jeter-post-swing-bat-chuck needed to go.
Oh well, foiled by the only AL catcher in MLB history to win a batting title. Oh well. FSN North got 88% of the Jeter routine.
I was then able to stand in foul territory for all of batting practice. I was struck by how small most of the players are. I’m 6’3” 215, but I’ve felt smaller than a MLB player. Man, I am not. A couple dudes are bigger, but most seem 5’9” 165.
When the White Sox take BP I sit in the Twins dugout. Unbelievable. I feel like I’m 11.
I can easily recall where most of the players were standing in 1991 when Gene Larkin stepped up vs Alejando Pena with the bases loaded and Gladden on third. The gum and seeds really do taste better in a major league dugout.
Speaking of the 91 World Series and the dugout. The cameraman starts to tell me about a vacation he just returned from where we took his boy to several games at Yankee Stadium, Shea, Citizens Bank and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. A gruff goteed man also sitting in the dugout complains, “Oh man, don’t take your kid to a baseball game on vacation. Take him hunting, or fishing or firing a gun.”
Wait a minute, I recognize that voice, and now I recognize the facial hair.
(I later find out he does the radio announcing)
I guess I understand what he’s saying. Most of us don’t want to show up at our office on a Sunday. I rarely see major league and the putt-putt batting cages.
But Jack, you made millions of dollars in your career……….BECAUSE folks like us take our kids to baseball games on our vacation.
As gametime neared, I picked up my stuff and took one last look around the Dome from the turf. I knew much of my childhood memories from those classic 1987 & 1991 World Series would be memories once the Twins move into a new stadium in 2010.
Brock Lesner was also on the field during BP and thought it looked strange when AJ Piezynski asked for his autograph.
It really was a spectacular day. The Twins shutout the White Sox. Nick Swisher hilariously lost his glove over the fence trying to rob a homer. The batboy had to run out another glove.
This place must have been so loud when Puckett homered of Leibrandt.
Glad I got to have lunch with my Great Uncle. What a day.