Twins Talk, July 8 08 Jul 16

TWINS TALK

Photos and Stories by Gordy Jones

Hats Off To Eduardo!

Since someone has to represent the Twins at the 2016 All-Star Game, I’m happy that it’s Eduardo Nunez. He’s a good guy who is having a banner year.

Eduardo is always happy and upbeat. He has spent a lot of time in the minors or on the bench, where he always showed patience while paying his dues. He has played ball since he was 3 years old, and he loves the game – as much as anyone I’ve ever met.

He told me two weeks ago, during our Twins Talk interview, that if he were to be chosen for the All-Star Game, it would be a dream come true for him. He also told me he always knew that if a team ever gave him a chance to play every day, he would prove that he deserves to play every day — and that he has done. The first thing he did when he learned he was chosen for the All-Star game was to thank Twins fans and his teammates, then lead off the Twins’ half of the first inning with a double. He has class!

Congratulations, Eduardo Nunez, I hope you lose your hat as you race around the All-Star base paths!   

 

Town Ball Tourney

 

If you’re a baseball fan who loves the Target Field experience, but you can’t handle another Twins loss, the Second Annual Town Ball Classic, July 23, might be for you.  At 10 bucks for three games, it’s a real bargain.

Town Ball is a fun caliber of baseball, made up of men from one town or region, who play similar teams from neighboring areas. Many of the teams include college players, local working guys, or older guys who love the game and still have something to contribute. Before Joe Mauer turned pro, he and his two brothers played on such a team in St. Paul, with their dad as coach. You can see some pretty good baseball at these games. Dave Winfield’s older brother, Steve, an exceptional athlete, played on a local team at this level up into his 50s. Former Twins catcher Terry Steinbach’s family has always been involved in Town Ball in New Ulm, Minnesota.  

Many Town Ball fields have a local volunteer grounds crew, who proudly groom their field, keeping it near immaculate.

Town Ball has been around since the invention of baseball. Before major league players made a substantial salary, many players formed teams when their seasons ended, and would travel to small towns on what they called barnstorming tours. They would tour the country and often play against Town Ball teams. It would give the big-leaguers additional income, and it would give the Town Ballers money for equipment and other expenses, and the locals got a chance to see real big-leaguers play.

In 1922, Babe Ruth traveled with a barnstorming team to Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. He pitched for an inning, and played second base for a few more. Many locals have great stories that were handed down from their parents or grandparents. There is even a chapter on it on the Babe Ruth Central website, an interactive site dedicated to the life of the Babe. It can be found at: tinyurl.com/Babe-sleepy. Check it out!    

In the past decade, with many fans looking for an alternative to major league sports and major league prices, Town Ball has been making a resurgence. Fans love going to a quaint little field, and paying a quaint little price, for a day of entertainment. It’s like going back in time. In fact, admission to a Miesville Mudhens game is only $3, and they pay kids a quarter to return the foul balls. Many teams offer entertaining antics, along with beer and food specials.

But the Second Annual Town Ball Classic will be played on the big stage of Target Field, which is an honor and a treat for the Town Ball players, who play for the love of the game.   

The schedule will go like this:

Games are set to begin at noon, 2:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m.

 

Class C                           12:00 p.m. Green Isle Irish vs. Hanska Lakers

Class B                           2:30 p.m. Cold Spring Springers vs. Austin Greyhounds

Class A                           5:00 p.m. Minnetonka Millers vs. Stockmen’s Irish