In September of 1999, I was a senior at Guilford College, and I was dating a lovely young woman named Alli. Alli had family in Minnesota, and I’d never been to the Metrodome — and that’s the exciting story of how I ended up there for a weekend.
The first game I attended was on a Friday, and as you can see, the weather was horrible:
Look at all that snow and ice! Good thing the Twins had a dome because it would’ve been miserable to stay outdoors.
Here’s a photo of me outside the “Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome” as it was officially called . . .
. . . and here’s one more shot of the exterior:
Gorgeous, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, as was often the case in the 1990s, I didn’t take any photos during batting practice, but I can tell you this: I snagged a bunch of baseballs. The first was a homer by the Twins that landed near me in the left field seats as soon as I ran in. I snagged the next ball off the warning track with my glove trick. (Alli was planning to arrive at game time; her younger brother Matt was with me, and he was impressed.) My third ball was thrown by Hector Carrasco after I asked for it in Spanish. (This was my 1,500th lifetime ball, and I was quite happy about it.) I used my glove trick again for ball No. 4 in the gap behind the outfield wall in left-center, and let me tell you, it was quite a challenge; the ball was so far below me that I had to tie an extension to the piece of string already on my glove.
Matt had never snagged a ball, so when the White Sox came out, I lent him an extra Sox cap and suggested that he try to get a player to toss one to him along the right field foul line. While he was gone, I caught a line-drive homer on the fly. (I have no idea who hit it.) Ten minutes later, Matt returned with a ball — the first one of his life — and he was VERY excited. Then, toward the end of BP, I used more Spanish to get Jesus Pena to throw me my sixth ball of the day.
After BP, I got my picture taken at the 1st base dugout . . .
. . . and then took a few shots of the stadium. Here’s a look at the seats along the 1st base side:
This was the view from behind home plate . . .
. . . and here’s what right field looked like from that spot:
Here’s what the last two photos look like when combined (poorly) in Photoshop:
The paid attendance at this game was only 11,308. There were so many empty seats that I was able to sit like this during the third inning:
I don’t remember why I wasn’t going for baseballs, but I’d like to smack the 22-year-old version of myself as a punishment. I do know (thanks to my original handwritten journal, which I’ll share at the end of this entry) that I’d spent the first part of the game with Alli and Matt and another member of their family near our actual seats behind the 1st base dugout. I guess I must’ve wandered off on my own for a bit to explore. Maybe I left my backpack with them and only took my camera? Anyway, I took two more photos from that spot. Here’s one . . .
. . . and here’s the other:
As I’ve said about lots of old stadiums, and this was certainly true of the Metrodome, it was fugly and I was happy to be there. The only time I wasn’t happy was when I struggled during BP to track fly balls against the white roof. It was so tough that I practically felt unsafe.
I wandered around the concourse for a bit . . .
. . . and briefly ended up in right-center field:
I should mention that the first two rows of seats in left field were roped off to prevent fan interference.
At the time, the game was unremarkable — the Twins won, 6-2 — but looking back now at the box score, I see that there were some big names . . . before they were big. For the White Sox, Paul Konerko was wrapping up his first full season, and Magglio Ordonez was enjoying his first All-Star campaign. For the Twins, Christian Guzman was a rookie and David Ortiz was struggling to prove himself; the big fella went 0-for-2 in this game and finished the season 0-for-20 with 12 strikeouts.
After the final out, I took one last photo . . .
. . . and collected 14 ticket stubs. Four of them looked like this . . .
. . . and the other ten looked like this:
As for my second game at the Metrodome, would you believe that I didn’t even bring my camera? For some reason, I also neglected to check out the upper deck — something I normally do at every stadium I visit — so I never got a photo up there or even a glimpse of the view. What the hell was I thinking?
Thankfully I was thinking straight when I skipped out on some boring touristy activity with Alli and her family in order to make it to the dome on time for BP. Unfortunately, though, it was Fan Appreciation Day, and the attendance (26,324) more than doubled. The stadium was packed early on, and my ballhawking suffered as a result. I got shut out during the 40 minutes that the Twins were on the field, and I only snagged two baseballs during the White Sox’s portion of BP — a toss-up from Carlos Castillo along the RF foul line and a toss-up from Keith Foulke in left field. Before the game, I got Marty Cordova to throw me a ball at the Twins’ dugout on the 3rd base side, and that was it. Three baseballs. Meh. Nine in two days. Double-meh. (All these years later, there are 42 stadiums at which I’ve attended at least two games; the Metrodome is the only one where I failed to reach double digits.)
I don’t remember where I sat during the game. I don’t remember anything really, but evidently I collected an absurd number of ticket stubs after the final out:
According to my journal (which I’m about to share), there was “all night softball” at the dome, which basically meant that a bunch of crappy beer-league teams got to play there until 3am, and fans were allowed to hang out in the stands. That’s why I got so many tickets. I had endless time to comb through the empty rows and look for them — well, until Alli and her family came to pick me up. Oh, and the White Sox won, 13-4.
Now, here’s the beginning of my long journal entry:
Before heading to the first game at the dome, I visited the Mall of America:
Here’s the part where I snagged my first few baseballs, including No. 1,500 from Hector Carrasco:
Of course I journaled about the food, which was surprisingly good:
So much bleeping:
This next double-page wraps up my ballhawking at the Metrodome . . .
. . . but I still had lots more to say. Here’s a story (which I had totally forgotten until I reread it) about some kids I talked to during the game:
Looking back on it, I cringed at the fact that I didn’t give them a ball — and that I seemed to tease them a bit. (I didn’t use to give baseballs away. Now I do. It’s that simple.) Ultimately, though, they ended up thinking I was the greatest dude ever, and I had a nice chat with their father.
I hung out with Alli and her family after the game:
Here’s where the journal entry ends. Just for the hell of it, I’ve included a bonus page (on the right) from my following entry so you can see what happened when I got back to campus:
Here’s one more photo, taken at the Mall of America, which shows the location of home plate from the Twins’ old ballpark, Metropolitan Stadium:
On a final note, if you’d like to check out my previous “Turn Back The Clock” blog entries, here’s a list:
1) June 11, 1993 at Candlestick Park
2) June 11, 1996 at Shea Stadium
3) July 2, 1998 at Cinergy Field
4) July 10, 1998 at Tiger Stadium
5) July 13, 1998 at County Stadium
6) July 14, 1998 at Busch Stadium
7) May 29, 1999 at the Kingdome
8) July 18, 1999 at the Astrodome
9) July 17-18, 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium