I still remember that first Twins game. Driving the bus up to the big marshmallow shaped building that was the mecca of Minnesota sports, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, or, as we called it, simply the ‘The Dome.’
This was the hay days of the Twins (but then to a true fan, they are all hay days).
As a farm kid, I remember the vastness of the building. The crowds of people, mainly youngsters like our busload of baseball pilgrims coming in from the hinterlands for a weekday afternoon at the ballpark. It was a scene of concrete, people, and pavement. Of the vibrantness and decay of the city – with the people milling about, but also the dilapidated scene of the old mills and eye sore parking lots that seemed to stretch out before us before the skyline was raised to west as it approached the Grain Exchange Building and the Federal Building.
They ushered us into a big side door where ticket takers tried to scan the tickets of our entire rambunctious group.
The wind was amazing as we passed through the doors into the expansive concourse. The blue and concrete mixing for an industrial athletic feel. It felt sleek, modern, efficient, and the place that a mighty team like the Minnesota Twins should play in.
Slowly, we wound our way up the concrete ramps that took us up and up into the upper echelons of the Dome. We were going to be seated in the sections, respectfully known due to their height, as the nose bleed sections.
My brother’s had warned me for the next piece of the experience. Walking up those concrete steps to our seats in the nosebleed section was like look down onto a little world under the bubble of the Dome. Thousands of people scurried like ants in the sections below and around us. The players, little specs on the field, threw the ball in warm ups. The place was massive, and like every farm boy before and after me, we had the same reaction….
“How much grain do you think you could fit in here?”
Now, I must admit, I’m generalizing a bit. My older brother’s thought in terms of hay bales, not bushels of grain, but you get the right idea.
It was like a little piece of heaven. The puffy white ceiling, the dark blue seats, the Cass Clay Creamery sign up on the score board.
Then there were the old baseball traditions – the cracker jacks, the hot dogs, the Seventh Inning Stretch, all of these were read about, heard about – and now I could see the vendors carrying the trays of popcorn and Cracker Jacks. I could smell the hot dogs in the portable heating units that were being carted around.
I rose with pride as the choir came out and lead us in “The Star Spangle Banner” and I felt lucky and blessed to be in this place, to be watching the Mighty Minnesota Twins play baseball…and should it all fall away, should the Twins go back to Washington, should the smell of hot dogs and the Cracker Jack vendors go back from which they came…well…this place could still hold a heck of a lot of grain…