As my wife and I were taking shelter in the concourse at Target Field Monday, July 14, a man with damp clothes said, “The Metrodome wasn’t so bad now was it?” His comment made me pause, but didn’t change my mind that Target Field is far superior to the indoor multi-use stadium that has now been torn down.
The reason his statement gave me pause was because we were crammed together in the concourse at Target Field that Monday to escape a steady rain, which delayed the Home Run Derby and caused most fans to take shelter where they could in the open baseball park.
After fans dried off and waited for about an hour, the derby started. As hometown favorite Brian Dozier, the Minnesota Twins’ second baseman, took his swings, a rainbow appeared just behind right field, lighting up the Minneapolis skyline.
Now, that’s something you would never see in the Metrodome. It was an awesome sight, perhaps a sign of better things to come?
It didn’t help Dozier any as he didn’t make the next round of the Home Run Derby, but the All-Star Game the following night was about as perfect as anyone could have wished for.
This was my second baseball All-Star Game. The first one I attended with a friend at the Metrodome in 1985.
Things were much different then. The event was mostly one day, rather than nearly a week-long series of events now. In 1985, I didn’t even realize there was a Home Run Derby, but I discovered that was the first year of the now annual event, which in 1985 cost just $2 and all proceeds went to charity.
The All-Star Game seems more contrived and commercial now. Plus, it is much more expensive than in 1985, all of which gave me reservations about going this year. My wife, who is as big a baseball fan as I am, didn’t need to push me too much, though, as I figure it will probably be the last All-Star Game I will see since they don’t come around to cities too often — 30 years probably being about an average.
Baseball is the only sport that has a meaningful all-star game and this one didn’t disappoint. In contrast to Monday’s Home Run Derby, the weather was perfect, about 70 degrees with clear skies and little wind.
Since the Twins are in the American League, we were rooting for the American League, which took an early three-run lead on a two-run homer by Miguel Cabrera, who is probably the one player in the game most likely to make it to the baseball Hall of Fame.
Well, there was one other sure Hall of Fame member — Derek Jeter of the Yankees. Jeter had previously announced he was retiring, so this 14th appearance was his last All-Star Game.
Even though the Yankees are a team hated by many Twins fans for their seemingly arrogant attitude, the dollars they spend to buy players and all the attention they get, Jeter is a decent player and fans showed their respect for the “captain” of the Yankees so many years. Dozier’s boyhood hero got a long standing ovation at the start of the game.
Jeter then went to work, getting a double to lead off the American League inning at the plate and scoring the first run of the game. When he was replaced in the fourth inning, after getting another hit the previous inning, the tunes of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” rang out in the park and fans gave him another long ovation, to which he tipped his hat several times.
After Jeter went out, the National League made the game interesting by tying the score in the fifth inning on a second run-scoring hit by a little-known catcher, Jonathon Lucroy of the neighboring Milwaukee Brewers.
The American League came right back on a run-scoring single by Mike Trout, who drove in Jeter for the first run of the game. Many feel that Trout, just 22 and named the 2014 most valuable player in already his third All-Star Game, will be a future Hall of Famer as well.
After a sacrifice fly in the same inning, the American League took a 5-3 lead.
One reason the game is meaningful, although not the only reason as the game has always been competitive, is because the winning league gets home field advantage in the World Series. That won’t mean much to the Twins, which are sitting in last place in their division, but the Twins did play a factor in the outcome — and that was meaningful to Glenn Perkins, who grew up in Stillwater, Minn., and now lives in Lakeville, Minn.
The scoring ended in the fifth inning and by the time the final inning rolled around, the American League had a 5-3 lead. Boston manager John Farrell called on Perkins to close the game. He also brought in new Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki behind the plate.
Perkins ran to the mound from the bullpen to a loud standing ovation. As he went through a one-two-three inning for the important save, the Minnesota native heard a constant chant of his name.
It was a perfect ending to a magical night.
When I got back to southeastern Minnesota, I found out that many people couldn’t watch the game on television due to a problem with Mediacom Cable. That made my decision even better.
To see the important game in real life in a real ballpark in the real outdoors really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.