Twins Talk Aug 12 05 Aug 16

Twins Talk

Sunday at the Park

Story and Photos by Gordy Jones

 

Last Sunday, my journey to the Twins game at Target Field began extra-early: At 7 a.m., I made a little detour through the University of Minnesota Campus to see the start of Glen and Alisha Perkins’ “Fifteen’s 5K” race. Thirteen hundred participants raised more than $30,000 for The Prairie Care Child and Family Fund. The race began near Mariucci Arena and ended at Target Field near first base. I was at the start of the race, to photograph the runners getting started as Perk yelled: “Get on your mark, get set, go!” I fired away with my Nikon, then ran to my car. I had to zig and zag to find a route with no construction, or that wasn’t closed for the race. I went back to the freeway, and sped to Target Field the long way. I parked my car and scooted through the media entrance. I wasn’t even on the field yet when I saw the winning runner high-fiving Alisha before crossing the finish line, just 15 minutes after the start.

Most of the runners began coming in 10 or 15 minutes later. Many hugged friends and took selfies as they enjoyed a double pleasure: finishing the race, and standing on a major league field. The runners were also invited to a post-race party at Target Field Station, where they received medals from members of the Twins team, free snacks, water, and souvenir trinkets as a live band performed. Runners who registered more than a week in advance were also given tickets for that day’s Twins-White Sox game, which was to be played that afternoon.

There were nearly four hours until game time. Usually I’d hang out and watch batting practice, but on Sunday there is typically no batting practice. Sundays are a little different at the ballpark, a bit lighter. Many players attend a clubhouse church service know as chapel. Players are allowed to bring their kids to the park on Sundays as well. With so much travel in a grinding, long season, you can tell they enjoy Sundays when they can spend a few extra hours with their children. Many kids have their own Twins uniforms that they wear as they run onto the field to play catch with Dad. The kids all become friends and sometimes play catch with each other, especially while their dads prepare for the game. Last Sunday, shortly before the game, skipper Paul Molitor came out of the clubhouse looking for his son, who was still in the outfield, standing among major leaguers. Paul laughed and said, “I can’t get him off of the field. I think that he thinks he’s playing in today’s (Twins) game.”

The Twins’ clubhouse attendant, Dominique Frost, was preparing the dugout for the game. Several hours before the game, he puts out towels, bubble gum, sunflower seeds, water, Gatorade, helmets, and bats. Like most other staff members at the park, over the years he and I have become good friends. It seems like yesterday that Dominique was a rookie attendant and still attended high school. Now he is the proud papa of a darling baby named Kendall. I hope someday to see Kendall running around Target Field on a Sunday.

Dom looked over and smiled at me. I was trying to recall when I met him, so I asked how long he has worked for the Twins. “This is my sixth year now. Because this is such a great job to have, time has gone by quick! I love being surrounded by these guys. Win or lose, they keep their heads up!”

I asked him what is new in his life, and he replied, “I am now the promotions intern at Go96. I’m really into music, so that will be a good fit for me.” Go96 is the radio station owned and operated by the Pohlad family. It features progressive music, and broadcasts the Twins games. I asked Dom if he’ll be on-air, and he said, “They talked about it, but for now I will just help out at concerts.” Then Dom excused himself and scampered back into the clubhouse so he could get his many chores done by game time. He’ll continue working for the Twins, and will only work at the radio station during the off-season, or when the Twins are on the road.

By now, I was getting hungry. Since there’s no batting practice on Sunday and the field was now bare, I thought I’d go to the media dining room, where they always serve a delicious and hearty breakfast whenever there’s a day game. Scribes, scouts, cameramen, announcers, engineers, producers, and front-office folks were enjoying ham, eggs, cheesy hash browns, fruit, yogurt, sausage, bacon, toast, doughnuts, and an assortment of hot and cold beverages. The dining room always smells great, with wonderful aromas in the air, but even more so on Sunday.  

After an enjoyable breakfast, I “waddled” up the tunnel to re-enter the field. It was getting close to game time. The tunnel empties onto the field at the visitors’ dugout. As I climbed the stairs, I looked into the dugout…I had to do a double-take. It was former Twin Justin Morneau in his White Sox uniform. He smiled and approached me to say hi and shake my hand. I asked him if it felt weird being at Target Field in a visitor’s uniform. He grinned and said, “Nah! It’s probably weirder for you. I put it on and forget about it. I don’t have to see myself in this uniform, but you do.”  

He also told me he’d be back in Minneapolis in November for another Casino Night, where he’ll raise money for childhood arthritis research and treatment. More to come.  

Soon the game began, and I sat in the photo well shooting pictures and thinking how blessed I am to do what I do. Suddenly Danny Santana hit a screaming foul ball which was going straight for my head. Nonchalantly, I leaned to the right. As I leaned right, I could feel the breeze as the ball whizzed by my left ear. In 35 years in ballpark photo wells, I’ve still never been hit.

Before I knew it, it was time to go to my car and head back to the East Metro. As I said my goodbyes while leaving Target Field, I smiled and thought: It’s been a very good day!