It’s been 30 years since Twins fans could bask in the warm glow of outdoor baseball — and the sentiment from most as they took their first steps inside was that it was all worth the wait.
Mouths hung open and eyes went wide as fans got their first glimpse at the new place before the big game. Comments like, “This is incredible,” and “I can’t believe we’re here,” were heard throughout the ballpark.
Some fans took the short walk from their downtown home to get here, while others — like the nice couple I talked to outside Gate 34 — traveled all the way from Seattle, booking their tickets as soon as the home opener was announced.
And while it was opening day, and clearly, everyone was here for baseball — there was definitely a feeling that this was bigger than just the game. This was a community coming together, bonded by a shared interest.
Fans walked by each other, giving out high-fives to relative strangers. Those dressed with an especially unique Twins pride were stopped for a photo op. And for two fans from Fargo-Moorhead, this happened about every 20 feet.
Justin Anderson wasn’t tough to pick out of the crowd. Wearing an all-white suit transformed into a walking tribute to Kirby Puckett, Anderson was a near-celebrity among fellow Twins fans. He said he actually created the get-up in 2008, but of course, found it more than appropriate to wear to the big home opener.
With any luck, Anderson said he’ll make a few more “jersey suits” — one for Bert Blyleven, one for Kent Hrbek and maybe more. After all, you gotta dress your best for the hometown team, he said.
That was perhaps one of the best parts about the day, seeing the fans, hearing everyone’s story and sharing in the excitement. Everyone has a “thing” for this game — whether it’s taking their newborn son to see his first Twins game or finally getting the chance to watch the Twins play outdoors.
For Tom Malaske, of Minneapolis, it was checking off another ballpark on his long list of stadiums visited. Malaske has been to 40 ballparks around the country and couldn’t wait to make Target Field his No. 41. With each place he visits, he takes away a lucky pin that gets added to a special collection, on top of his head — on his Twins baseball cap, of course.
And without a doubt, before I could even ask, he told me Target Field blows all other ballparks out of the water.
“It’s like they took the best of each ballpark and put it all in one spot,” he said with a laugh. “This sets the bar very high.”
Malaske says it best. Impressive is just the half of it. What’s seemed like forever in the making is finally reality and more so than any other day, it feels great to be able to call Target Field, home sweet home. Let’s go Twins!
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.