Celebrating the affiliation agreement with the Minnesota Twins has been pretty much an “all season long” thing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels and their fans, but this weekend was the official Twins Weekend event in Cedar Rapids.
Guests of honor have included all-time Twins great Tony Oliva, Twins organist Sue Nelson and mascot TC Bear. All three made appearances at the Kernels’ game with visiting Peoria on Friday night.
Oliva signed autographs for a long line of fans before the game, Nelson treated fans to her talents on an electric organ during the game and TC teamed with Kernels mascot Mr. Shucks to entertain fans throughout the game.
On Saturday morning, all three joined several Kernels players and coaches, along with over 100 fans, for a breakfast event benefiting the Cedar Rapids Convention & Visitors Bureau.
As a fan who grew up in Minnesota in the 1960s watching Oliva play ball for the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, I have to say it was a really big deal to me to have an opportunity to interview Oliva along with other local media Friday evening during the Kernels game.
It was even a bigger deal to find myself alone with Oliva in the pressbox for several minutes a short while after the formal media intervew and having the opportunity to just watch a ballgame and talk about a number of the young Twins prospects with Oliva.
On Saturday morning, during his remarks at the breakfast and in a “Q & A” session, Oliva shared a number of observations and anecdotes with the crowd.
If you’re interested in reading some of Oliva’s comments to the media from Friday night, click here to read my story for Metro Sports Report, which include Oliva’s thoughts on the current Major Leaguers from his native Cuba. Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter Jeff Johnson also has a story focusing on Oliva’s comments concerning PED usage in baseball.
Here are a few photos I took from the weekend’s events.
Tony Oliva patiently signed autographs for about an hour before the game
Twins organist Sue Nelson
TC Bear entertained fans and posed for pictures
Tony Oliva met with local media on Friday during the Kernels game
Kernels pitcher and Twins prospect Brett Lee answers a question during the breakfast event Saturday morning as Niko Goodrum, Adam Brett Walker, Kernels broadcaster Morgan Hawk, Tony Oliva, Jake Mauer and Tommy Watkins look on.
Tony Oliva speaking to fans at the Breakfast event Saturday
Kernels outfielder and Twins prospect Adam Brett Walker answers fan questions during Saturday’s breakfast
From left to right: Mike Gonzales, Dallas Gallant, Morgan Hawk (standing), Niko Goodrum, Brett Lee, Adam Brett Walker, Tony Oliva, Jake Mauer and Tommy Watkins