JC’s Twinsfest Weekend

UPDATE: Say what you want about Drew Butera’s hitting ability, but the guy has personality and if nothing else, he’ll have a future in media. Click here for Butera’s “inside look” at Twinsfest.

It was an eventful weekend in the Twin Cities and more than anything else, I feel like I need a nap. Then again, I also know that if I don’t post something about my trip to Twinsfest now, there’s a good chance it won’t get done at all so I’ll post and THEN get my beauty sleep.

I arrived at my hotel Friday in plenty of time to get cleaned up and head to Oakdale for the 4th Annual Last Hot Stove Banquet. It was the first opportunity I’ve had to attend this event and I had a great time. It’s a relaxing, informal, event but the organizers do a good job of providing an interesting and entertaining program. Former Twins pitcher Scott Erickson was one of the speakers and I thought he did a nice job both with his remarks and with fielding questions from the crowd.

My favorite part of the program, however, was when Twins President Dave St. Peter and St. Paul Saints co-owner Mike Veeck were joined on a Q&A panel by former Red Sox pitcher Dana Keicker and the StarTribune’s Howard Sinker. All four did a great job of fielding questions with relative candor, as well as a healthy dose of humor. The banquet definitely got the weekend off on a good foot.

Saturday also started out well, with my fellow Knuckleballers KL and CapitalBabs joining me for breakfast before I headed for the Metrodome. I particularly appreciated Babs’ hubby joining us, to keep the gender balance even.

I didn’t arrive at the Dome until close to 11:00 am, but since I really wasn’t concerned about jumping through the hoops necessary to get one of the “premium” autographs, there was no need to get there early. I found Seth Stohs at the 1500ESPN Radio set and after a brief visit, I was headed to the main floor.

This trip, my autograph collecting was primarily focused on the minor leaguers. It was great having a copy of Seth’s Prospect Handbook along, allowing me to have a number of those young players sign the page on which their information is printed.

I did get one other autograph. Jim “Mudcat” Grant was signing copies of his book, The Black Aces, and I happily purchased a copy of the book and got him to add a signed inscription. Grant was joined at the booth by four “Black Aces”, J.R. Richard, Dave Steward, Doc Gooden and Ferguson Jenkins. Seeing those five pitchers together certainly brought back a lot of great memories for me and was perhaps the highlight of my day at Twinsfest.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures this trip, but I did put a few in to a slideshow to share here:

The night was capped off at the Old Chicago restaurant in Roseville where what seemed like every Twins blogger and most of the people who read their blogs gathered for a bit of socialization. It was great to see everyone, even if I was so intimidated by the talent assembled there that I pretty much hid in the corner most of the night. My thanks to everyone who found me and stopped by to say “hi”.  It really was a pleasure meeting and spending some time talking to everyone.

All in all, it was a terrific weekend to kind of “kick off” the 2012 Twins season. Pitchers and catchers report in just under three weeks, so it really is getting close to baseball season, despite what all the snow along the highway on my drive home would indicate. I can’t wait.

- JC