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MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — Mother Nature played a bit of an April Fools’ Day joke on Twins Fans Monday. The home opener was downright cold for a lot of fans like Ryan Zezulka, who sat in the upper deck in the shade and in the wind.
“Plenty of layers. But I have my nice warm, dugout jacket,” Zezulka said.
Fan Meghan Curtis said it felt like another season, and another kind of sporting event altogether,
“I was joking that we went tailgating for a Vikings game and it was warmer in October than it is here in April,” Curtis said.
The coldest home opener in Twins history was 33 degrees back in 1962 at the old Met Stadium. The temperature when Monday’s game against the Detroit Tigers started was 35, with winds at 17 mph at first pitch. But it takes more than a little cold weather to spoil an opener, at least for many of the folks at Target Field.
The hot chocolate line was more than 12 deep on Monday afternoon shortly before the 2013 season even began. Beer vendors weren’t quite as busy. But, hey, it’s baseball. Sitting outside in stocking hats, gloves and winter coats sure beat staying at work for the announced crowd of 38,282, officially a sellout by Twins guidelines.
The Homerun Porch in the sun was balmy compared to what fans were dealing with in the upper levels. Cindy Mines waited all winter to sit in “winter-like” weather to watch the Twins.
“If it weren’t for the wind it wouldn’t be so bad. I wish we had this wind in July,” Mines said.
This was the first time in four years at the downtown ballpark, which replaced the Metrodome as their home stadium, that the Twins played their opener in Minnesota. The previous temperatures for their first home games were 45, 63 and 65 degrees.
For the players, this was a tough transition from nearly two months of spring training in balmy Florida. But while everybody was bundling up for the afternoon, none of them seemed to mind much.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer grew up here, after all. He recalled high school games being snowed out. He also played in Class A in 2002 for Quad Cities, when he remembered catching all 17 innings during a chilly opening night contest along the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa.
“There’s nothing we can change about it,” Mauer said. “We just have to go out there and play the game.”
First baseman Justin Morneau predicted the team that whines the least about the weather would have the best chance to win. He joked that he’d “put hot sauce all over and throw some long sleeves on and some long johns” to fend off the frost.
New Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, whose nine seasons with the Twins were in the climate-controlled dome, recalled the coldest game he ever experienced. That was his rookie year at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium in 1999. The temperature that day was 44 degrees, with a 13 mph wind.
“You put Vaseline on your legs and your arms. That’s the secret nobody really knows about,” Hunter said. “Put lots of Vaseline on to close your pores up and then you put your sleeves on and put on two pair of underwear.”
There’s no game scheduled for Tuesday, so everyone can thaw a bit before returning on Wednesday, when the forecast has the temperature at closer to 50 degrees.
“Personally, I’m going to go buy a sweater tomorrow,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I packed one, but I’ve worn it a couple times already.”
Last year’s home opener was eight days later on April 9, but it was only about 12 degrees warmer at 48 degrees.
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