I got a very nice Fathers Day present yesterday. My 32-year-old son took me up to the Twin Cities to watch the Minnesota Twins play the Houston Astros in a baseball game at the Metrodome.
I usually get up to a game once or twice in a season. I generally watch from the comfort of my own recliner in my living room. The seating is better; the view is better; and the commentary, which is non-existant in the stadium, is infinitely better, coming from Dick Bremer and (should-be) Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven. (At least they would tell me what happened to Justin Morneau, who didn’t play at all yesterday, and Jason Kubel, who left the game after just a couple innings.)
I’ve been to quite a lot of Twins games over the years. I’ve been a fan of the Twins since they first moved here from Washington D.C. back in 1961. But yesterday was unique. Now only was it the first time my son has taken me, instead of the other way around, but for the first time we drove up to the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, parked the car, and rode on the light rail up to the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. I’ve seen trains all my life; this was the first time I’ve ever ridden in one. (Of course, this was light rail, not quite like the heavy freight trains we see out here in the rural areas.)
Dan had ridden the train to the stadium three or four times previously, so he took the lead. We bought our tickets and boarded the train at the Megamall. There was a bit of a crowd already on the train, and it was still an hour and a half before game time. We found a couple tight little seats (We’re two extra large guys) in what turned out to be the articulating joint of this passenger train. Another couple came in and sat across from us, who looked very fit. We learned they had both run in a marathon up in Duluth on Saturday, and they were taking in the baseball game on Sunday. Just before the train started moving, an older couple boarded, standing near us, too. When the train started, the older woman almost fell, and the marathon runner across from us quickly offered her his seat. Nice guy, and she was very grateful. Everybody else was just fine.
I was surprised at how rough and noisy the train was, but I chalked it up to the fact that we were sitting in that articulating joint, and I was right. The train stopped every two or three minutes, to let passengers on and off, but almost nobody ever got off until we reached the Dome.
So we got off at the Dome, and I asked my son if he wanted to eat outside on the Plaza before we went into the stadium. He said he would prefer to go in and eat in our seats. We went inside (They don’t tear your tickets any more, they just scan it with a electronic scanning gun.) and first I found a stand and bought a Twins Yearbook for $10. Then we found a food stand where I bought a brat, potato chips, and a Coke in a commemorative cup for $11. (Yeah, that’s one brat, a small bag of chips, and a Coke for $11.)
I forgot to bring my pack mule! Or at least I could have used another hand or two. I was trying to balance the brat and chips, this huge Coke, the Yearbook, and my ticket. I did spill an ounce or two of the Coke on my shirt when I tried to put some relish on the brat. Thankfully, that was the only mishap we had. We found our seats, and I sat down next to an older woman and her husband, with my hands full, and I said, “I don’t know what to do!” The nice lady said, “How about if I take that Coke and put it in the cup-holder for you.” Man, I could have kissed her! I thanked her profusely. Then I quickly ate the brat and chips, and sipped on the Coke throughout the game.
The unfortunate thing is, that was just about the only excitement there was.
Not really. There was a home run by one of “our” players, and a fantastic catch by our centerfielder to rob a home run from one of the Astros’ players. There were a couple misplays in the first inning which allowed the Astros to score three runs right away, and though our pitcher pitched well, the Twins just couldn’t recover from that first inning.
The game got over, and we went out and headed for the train. I had heard that they had “pushers” to get as many people on the train after the game as possible. But all we saw was a guy urging people to get on, saying there’s still plenty of room. We got on and found no seats available, but a couple good standing areas with handles to hang on to, right inside the doors near the back of the train. The doors closed, and this time I heard none of the scraping noise, nor the rough ride we had experienced on the trip up to the stadium. It was almost like we were riding on rubber tires, quiet and smooth. I could lean against a partition and there were all sorts of handles for folks to hang onto; I could see out well through the big windows, and I was really quite comfortable. About halfway through the ride, enough people had gotten off that there were seats available, and my son sat down and motioned me to do so also. But I was fine. I was enjoying the ride, so I stood up the rest of the way. It’s a good way to go up to the Dome as long as you stay away from that articulating joint in the middle of the train.
We arrived back at the Megamall, and walked out into the parking lot to my son’s car. It was raining and my Twins Yearbook was getting wet. But I didn’t care too much; it had been a good time.
We climbed in the car, and after a short slowdown on the entrance ramp to the freeway, we cruised for Mankato, arriving at home just before suppertime. And so ended another of the little adventures of my life.