My scariest Minnesota Twins fan moment: it’s raining hot dogs!

10 Sep 1995: Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch of the Minnesota Twins looks on during a game against the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. The Twins won the game, 9-8.
10 Sep 1995: Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch of the Minnesota Twins looks on during a game against the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. The Twins won the game, 9-8. /

On Halloween, some of us here at Puckett’s Pond are taking the opportunity to share our scariest moments as Minnesota Twins fans with you!

As we Minnesota Twins fans know all to well, sometimes the product on the field isn’t exactly pleasing, and sometimes it can be downright scary. This Halloween, the staff here at Puckett’s Pond are sharing some of our scariest moments as Twins fans.

My scariest moment at a Minnesota Twins game occurred during my college years, back when the Twins were still working their way up to being “good”.

The Set Up

In 1991, this whole night would have seemed impossible. Chuck Knoblauch was a gritty, table-setting rookie at the top of the Minnesota Twins lineup that won the World Series. By the mid-1990s, he was one of the best players in the entire game, averaging .321/.420/.470 with 32 doubles, 11 triples, 11 home runs, and 51 steals per season from 1995-1997. However, the Twins increasingly were becoming a one-man show around him. Expressing his frustration got him painted in a negative way in the Minnesota media at the time, and eventually he asked simply to be traded.

In all reality, the trade of Chuck Knoblauch was singularly the move that allowed the success of the 2000s. Key pieces to the success of those teams, Eric Milton and Cristian Guzman, were the key pieces of the deal, and one of the secondary pieces, Brian Buchanan would go on to be traded for Guzman’s successor at short, Jason Bartlett.

Instead, Knoblauch immediately was a centerpiece of one of the best Yankees teams in history in 1998, and he was part of two more World Series champions by the time he came with the Bronx Bombers to the Metrodome on May 2nd, 2001. By this point, Knoblauch had experienced the throwing yips from second base and moved to the outfield, but his bat was such that he was still the leadoff hitter in front of a Yankee lineup including names like Bernie, Jeter, Tino, Posada, and Justice, among plenty of others.

Another thing to recall is that the Metrodome during the lean years of the team had taken to pandering to the college population in the Twin Cities area with cheap tickets for general admission and “dollar dog” nights, where every hot dog was $1. For a college student on a budget, you could see a baseball game and eat multiple hot dogs for $5. It was a very good deal!

At that time in the history of the team, the hot dogs were truly unlimited. If you wanted 10 hot dogs, you could spend your $10 and purchase 10. There were many games in my collegiate career that my friends and I walked from our West Bank residence hall at the U of M over to the Metrodome in order to take in a game on a weeknight.

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The Frightening Ordeal

On the day in question in 2001, I was working now as a community advisor in one of the freshman residence halls, and I thought it would be fun to take a host of my fresh persons to a ball game as a community outing together. With the Yankees in town, it was an easy sell to the residents.

We purchased tickets, initially in the upper level, but a host of us noted empty seats in the lower level general admission, and knowing the security guy working one of the left field sections, I was allowed to go down with a small group of residents.

Knoblauch was in left field for the Yankees, which happened to be where the stadium’s cheap seats were for college students were, so the stadium had lots of blue seatbacks visible except for the left field to left-center area where the general admission area was.

As the game began, Knoblauch was heavily heckled by the Twins fans in the area, many of whom had either “pre-gamed” with alcohol or purchased it at the stadium. The roar was dull until the Twins finally broke the scoreless game with a solo home run by Torii Hunter. After the Yankees tied it up in the top of the 6th inning, the Twins began to put together a rally as Luis Rivas and Matt Lawton each hit singles.

That’s when the first item struck Knoblauch.

Once the first hot dog had flown, dozens of fans in the left field stands suddenly realized they had a projectile in their hands, and the hot dogs began flying. One of the young women in our group turned to me and remarked, “It’s not raining cats and dogs, it’s raining hot dogs!”

Hot dogs were not the only thing that flew, however. Plastic beer bottles began to fly, as did souvenir baseballs and all sorts of other things. The issue was that many of those items were launched from the back of the lower level or the upper level and ended up striking fellow fans sitting closer to the field. Fans were covered in ketchup, mustard, soda, beer, and all sorts of other things.

However, the most scary was one of at least a dozen baseballs that was hurled toward the field, coming from left field, whirring just over my 6’3″ head, and clocking someone in front of me in the side of their face, leading to blood going all over the place as the person’s temple was just barely missed but there was obvious damage around the eye.

The video below mentions over 40 people being removed from the game, and I can attest to multiple leaving in handcuffs. Public address announcer Bob Casey made an impassioned plea for fans to stop, and when they began again, manager Tom Kelly came out to left field to plea with fans to calm down.

I can’t honestly tell you what happened the rest of that game as it was such a blur after realizing how close I came to a baseball in the back of the head. The Twins won the game 4-2, but it severely hurt the Twin Cities reputation, and some believe it put a mark on the town as far as future contraction talks were concerned when those occurred that offseason.

Next: Twins Bullpen Options for 2018

I went back to more games with my residents, and I’ve been to many more games over the years in the dome and now at Target Field. However, there has never been another game I was actually concerned for my own safety!