My top games at Target Field #6-10 were posted in Part 1 of this series yesterday. Here are my top 5 Target Field memories (so far).
Full disclosure: This Top 10 List includes my favorite memories of games I attended at Target Field. While my dream is to be a Championship Club season ticket holder, I generally make 10-12 games per year, most of them in the third deck (first base side, if possible). The tickets are generally gifts, last minute “cheap seat” grabs, or group games I’ve organized. Despite the fact that I am only able to attend around 12% of games played at Target Field each year, I have somehow attended some of the wackiest, most memorable, and most important games played at the new ballpark thus far.
5. Revere’s 2011 GIBBY catch: August 22, 2011
If you read my recent post on Ben Revere‘s latest GIBBY nomination, you also caught part of my story about this game. As I sit here and write about the game, I’m almost puzzled at myself for putting it in my Top 10, let alone my Top 5. The game was a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, a team who finished only four games better in 2011 than the 99-loss Twins did. J.J. Hardy made a triumphant return to Target Field hitting this blast, which fueled the frustration of fans who thought the Twins had made a terrible trade when they sent Hardy to the Orioles. And, as I mentioned in my GIBBY article, my brother and I were in the one spot in the ballpark where we couldn’t see that fantastic catch. But just being there for that catch is enough to put this game in my Top 10 so far – the crowd reaction, watching the replay as Revere ran off the field, and correctly predicting that would be the best catch of the year all make that a game I wouldn’t skip if I could do it over. What pushed it over the edge and into the Top 5 was that it also contained one of the wackiest plays I’ve witnessed. It was the first time I got to see Joe Mauer play at first base, and I was really intrigued…and then really mad. You will be, too, when you watch what this fan did:
4. No. 10 is retired: September 8, 2012
This game made it onto the list for the pre-game more than the game itself, although it was a fun game to watch. My friend and I decided to turn our tickets into “Standing Room Only” tickets and watched the game from a bunch of different angles. I’m usually glued to my seat, so exploring during the game was a novel idea. I recommend it. It was also fitting that the Twins put in a solid performance on a day they honored one of the most influential members of the organization, a man who was always known for his emphasis on the fundamentals of the game. The 3-0 home victory was treasured as the rare event it was during 2012, and Hometown Hero Cole De Vries‘ strong outing was more-than-welcome in a year where the Twins’ starters largely struggled. All of that was good, but what made the game great was being there to witness the retirement of two-time World Series winning manager Tom Kelly and to see so many of my childhood baseball heroes gathered in one place to honor someone that meant so much to Twins baseball. That day, the Twins gave away an oar as a memory of Kelly’s legacy, a permanent reminder of the former manager’s famous words of wisdom to his players:
3. Willingham’s walk-off vs. A’s: May 29, 2012
When my brother and his girlfriend told me on my birthday they’d be taking me to a game later that month, and that we’d sit in the first row behind home plate (that is, the first row behind the important people in the cushy seats), I didn’t think the birthday gift could get much better than that. Turns out, I was wrong! I’m definitely the type of sports fan who expects to see a game through to the end. So, even though I understand why football teams kneel down to run the clock out at the end of a game, seeing a game “end” before the game really ends drives me a bit nuts. And I definitely, DEFINITELY stay through the end of a game, even a game like this one, during which neither team scored until the seventh inning; and, no, that wasn’t because there was a tense pitchers’ duel happening. I’m the type of fan crazy enough to stay for a game when my home team is down 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth with runners on the corners, and there appears to be only about 500 of us fans left in the stadium. If for this game alone, I will forever stick to my guns on seeing a game through until the end. Willingham stepped to the plate in that two out, two on, down-by-two in the bottom of the ninth, facing his former team and a former Twins reliever. He didn’t have a hit that game; his previous plate appearances included two strikeouts, a walk, and another out I can’t recall. Then, this happened, and the handful of faithful left in the crowd sounded like a packed ballpark.
2. Second regular season win at Target Field: April 15, 2012
The Twins won their inaugural home opener at their new ballpark, lost game two, and were set to play the Boston Red Sox at 12:10 PM for the rubber match of the series. My best friend was working at the Apple Valley Twins Pro Shop at the time, and at the last minute, she learned there were tickets newly available for the Thursday match-up with the Red Sox. Six of us grabbed tickets and requested vacation days off of work. The day opened with rainy skies and cold April temperatures. I dressed for the presumed weather and was giddy about my first trip to the new ballpark. About 45 minutes before the game began, it was as if the heavens opened up and God smiled on Target Field. The clouds dissipated, the sun shone, and the skyline was picturesque. I came to the ballpark in a sweatshirt and poncho, and I left with a mid-April mild sunburn, which finally convinced me that saying good-bye to the climate-controlled Dome was a fantastic idea. Most impressive was Francisco Liriano‘s seven shutout innings that came as part of a Twins’ 8-0 victory. While I haven’t formally thought about this, my gut sense is that this is the last Twins game I attended where Liriano didn’t make me want to cry.
1. Thome’s 10th inning walk-off vs. Chi-Sox: August 17, 2010
Hands-down, no question, absolute best moment at Target Field so far, not just my favorite moment. At the time, the Minnesota Twins were up three games against division rival Chicago White Sox. Knowing the division race would be tight and every game would count, the Twins desperately needed to increase the lead to four games. The seesaw contest was nerve-wracking for all of us in the stands. When Jim Thome came to bat in the bottom of the tenth with one on and the Twins down by one, the atmosphere was absolutely electric. You might think that sounds cliché; watch the video of Thome’s walkoff, and then reassess your judgment. The first walkoff homerun at the new ballpark was memorable, made an impact, and was hit by a legend who graced Target Field’s home dugout for a brief, but magical, time.
Have a favorite Target Field memory? Tell us about it in the comments below!