Surviving TwinsFest

It has taken me a little longer than expected to put up a post here about my trip up to Minneapolis for TwinsFest. That’s because it took me a little longer than anticipated just to get home from TwinsFest.

The plan was simple:

  • Drive up to Minneapolis Saturday morning
  • Go to TwinsFest Saturday afternoon
  • Go to Hubert’s Saturday night for the TwinsDaily-hosted social event
  • Sleep a few hours at my hotel
  • Go to brunch with my Knuckleballs “family” Sunday morning
  • Drive home Sunday afternoon

Easy.

Yes, I got a later start than I expected Saturday morning, due, to some degree, to staying at the local sports bar with my family alonger than I’d planned Friday night, but I made it to my Eagan hotel by 1:00-ish. It was about that time that I realized I hadn’t brought my camera with me, which is kind of a big deal for me (some of you may have noticed I enjoy taking pictures when I travel). I got to the hotel early enough that they didn’t have a room ready for me to check in to. They were more than happy to take my credit card information, of course, so all I would have to do would be pick up my door card when I got back from downtown that night.

TwinsFest2013

TwinsFest 2013, with a glimpse of Puckett’s Pond writer Paul Pleiss (in the Koskie jersey)

After taking the Light Rail from the Mall of America to the Metrodome, I wandered around the place for a bit. I ran in to several familiar faces, caught up with a few friends and listened in to some of the interviews taking place on the 1500ESPN stage.

Before long, I made my way to the “Down on the Farm” area and chatted a while with the folks at the CR Kernels’ booth, including General Manager Doug Nelson.

I didn’t do the autograph thing this year, but I did enjoy seeing some of my own boyhood heroes signing. Rollie Fingers, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Jim Perry and Fergie Jenkins were at one station on the main floor of the Dome and seeing them all together made me smile.

As TwinsFest was getting set to close down for the evening, just before 6:00 pm, I wandered across the street to Hubert’s for the little social event planned there by the good people at Twins Daily. I wasn’t sure how many people to expect to see, but the guys were promising free beer, so I really didn’t need much additional incentive to show up. My plan was to stick around long enough to talk with a few people I don’t get to see often, then part at an hour appropriate for someone of my advanced years. It was a reasonable plan.

I’m not sure how many people the Twins Daily guys were expecting, but it seemed like a great turnout to me. People came and went, but I’m almost positive at least 100 different people showed up. It’s a considerable understatement to say I had a great time. I got to spend time talking to a few people I have met before at other blogger gatherings and a lot of people I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting before. We talked Twins, we talked Kernels, we talked about writing. We watched the Timberwolves blow a lead and lose.

Time really just flew by and the next thing I knew, it was after 11:00 and I was finally getting around to eating… at a totally different place, where a number of us had moved to as things wound down at Hubert’s.

Fast-forward a couple of hours and I finally made it back to my hotel where, it turns out, they lock the doors to the lobby at 11:00 pm. Of course, you can let yourself in with your room key… and they assume all guests would actually HAVE a room key. It took a little longer than expected, but I did eventually get checked in to a room for what was left of the night.

By 10:00 am Sunday, I was sitting down for brunch at Chammp’s in St. Paul with fellow Knuckleballers KL and Babs (and her hubby, Andrew).  I can’t say I was 100% on my game, at that point, but I’ve been much worse.

It was just starting to spit a little something when we left the restaurant, though I wasn’t sure whether it was rain, sleet or snow. Before I got out of the Twin Cities area, heading south, things were a much worse. By the time I reached Albert Lea, I’d pretty much seen it all: Freezing rain. Some ice. A bit of snow. Cars and trucks in ditches. Cars and trucks actually leaving the road and driving in to ditches. In short, I saw enough to know I didn’t want to join them, so I pulled in to my old home town and found a hotel room.

Not only did I find a hotel room, but the hotel had a nice little sports bar/restaurant attached to it! The waitress/bartender was kind enough to find the Iowa-Purdue basketball game on one of their TVs for me while I enjoyed an excellent quesadilla and a beer or two before heading back to my room for the night.

When I looked out the window of my hotel room early Monday morning, I couldn’t see my car. In fact, I couldn’t see anyone’s car. Fog had pretty much engulfed us. Not being all that interested in getting on a slick interstate with no visibility, I had breakfast and spent a couple hours working in my room before checking out.

By then, you could see maybe 200 yards in front of you on the interstate, so it wasn’t too bad. I had to make two more stops of an hour or two each to deal with work-related phone calls, but finally rolled in to my garage around 4:00 pm… almost exactly 24 hours after I SHOULD have been home.

While things didn’t exactly go as planned, it was definitely worth the trip just to have a chance to see so many friends Saturday and Sunday.

We don’t all agree on everything Twins-related. In fact, some of us rarely agree on anything Twins-related. But we all have a mutual interest in the Twins. In fact, for most of us, it’s probably more accurately called a mutual passion for the Twins.

I don’t know how the upcoming Twins season will turn out, but it’s great to know we’ll all share the experience together.

I’ll wrap up with a handful of additional photos I did manage to take with my phone-camera.

- JC

Rollie Fingers, Mudcat Grant, Jim Perry and Fergie Jenkins

Rollie Fingers, Mudcat Grant, Jim Perry and Fergie Jenkins

Twins prospects Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson at the autograph station, with Twins Clubhouse manager Wayne "Big Fella" Hattaway peeking in from behind the curtain

Twins prospects Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson at the autograph station, with Twins Clubhouse manager Wayne “Big Fella” Hattaway peeking in from behind the curtain

Twins prospects BJ Hermsen, Pedro Hernandez and Trevor May at the autograph table

Twins prospects BJ Hermsen, Pedro Hernandez and Trevor May at the autograph table

Radio broadcaster Cory Provus interviews Twins execs Terry Ryan, Jim Pohlad and Dave St. Peter

Radio broadcaster Cory Provus interviews Twins execs Terry Ryan, Jim Pohlad and Dave St. Peter

The gathering at Hubert's, hosted by Twins Daily

The gathering at Hubert’s, hosted by Twins Daily

Carl Pavano’s mustache – Who’s to blame?

It’s not often that being old is good. Sure, it’s nice not to worry about getting ‘carded’ when I buy a beer at the ballpark, but other than that, I’d have to say getting old sucks.

So when the opportunity arises to make use of one’s advanced age by educating the younger baseball fans, I try to take advantage. Best to do that now, while I’m striking that precarious balance of being old enough to know stuff, yet not too old to remember it. Since I’m exactly at that point in my life, I can tell you all who is to blame for Carl Pavano’s mustache.

Reggie

It’s the man pictured at the right.

Yes, Twins fans, Reggie Jackson is the person responsible for those of you with a strong aversion to Pavano’s mustache having to try to simultaneously watch every minute of the games he pitches while not actually watching Pavano, himself.

You see, dating back to a time before any of you were born (think 1910-ish) and up to the early 1970s, historians record that only two players, Allen Benson (who wore a beard for two games in 1934) of the Senators and Satchel Paige (who wore a mustache when he was signed out of the Negro Leagues in 1948) of the Indians sported facial hair during regular season MLB games… and historians aren’t so sure Paige didn’t shave his before appearing for the Tribe.

It’s not that there was a rule against facial hair. Not an official rule, anyway. It was more like one of those unofficial baseball rules. Kind of like not running across the pitchers mound. By the early 1970s, a few players were showing up for Spring Training sporting various forms of facial hair, but by Opening Day, they all were shaved clean… until 1972. That’s when Reggie Jackson not only showed up for the A’s Spring Training with a fully grown ‘stache, but announced to anyone who would listen (including his manager, Dick Williams, who had been told by owner Charley Finley to make Reggie shave) that he intended to keep it… and would be adding a beard to go with it.

Rollie Fingers

Jim "Catfish" Hunter

Finley and Williams decided Jackson was just trying to assert his individuality and thought they could counter that… and get Reggie to shave… by having a few other players ALSO grow mustaches. Thus were born what became trademark mustaches for A’s pitchers Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter. Needless to say, the strategy backfired. Soon a lot of the A’s were growing mustaches of varying styles.

Finley, a bit of a renegade himself among MLB owners, saw an opportunity for a promotion. He not only backed off on his anti-facial hair position, but in May, Finley even announced a Fathers Day promotion… “Mustache Day”. Fans wearing a mustache would be admitted free of charge and he’d pay a $300 bonus to any player sporting a mustache by that Fathers Day game.

Every player collected the bonus. Many players, like 1B Mike Hegan, shaved immediately after collecting their Fathers Day bonus. Hegan claimed he shaved because his wife didn’t like it (can you say ___ whipped?). But by later in the season, most of the players had grown them back. Even Manager Dick Williams was wearing a ‘stache. Why? As 3B Sal Bando explained, “Well, we had success as a team, so everyone stayed with it.”

That fall, the A’s won the first of their back-to-back-to back World Series Championships.

In other words, Babs (and the rest of you who want to see Pavano get rid of his mustache), if I may be allowed to re-phrase a quote from the great baseball philosopher, Crash Davis, ”… a player on a streak has to respect the streak.  If you believe you’re playing well because you’re (wearing a mustache), then you ARE! And you should know that! ”

Who knows… maybe Carl will be a trendsetter, just like Reggie. – JC