The 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is extra special for several reasons. First, it is the Fifth Anniversary of the GFS Roadtrip. Second, we have expanded the GFS roster to include Kellan. And, finally, by checking off Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Kauffman Stadium (Royals), and Coors Field (Rockies), Tim and I would finally have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game – we had already seen all 30 teams play a road game.
I wanted the Mariners to be involved in the game when we saw our final team play a home game. During the offseason, I decided it would happen in Colorado when the Mariners visited the Rockies in May.
The Roadtrip kicked off on May 12, 2012. We started in Minnesota. It is the first city we have visited on two separate roadtrips. We went to the H.H.H. Metrodome during its final season in 2009. And now we were back to check out Target Field.
But first, we had to get to Minnesota…
…and this will officially be Kellan’s final “infant on lap” trip. He’s getting to be huge these days. But we have a nice flight nonetheless and were greeted by my dad at the gate. His flight had landed about half an hour before ours.
After a brief rest in our hotel room, we took to the streets of Minneapolis on foot – destination Target Field:
We arrived before the gates opened. The crowd at the RF (Kirby Puckett) gate was getting big already. We got some pictures with a couple statues (Kirby and Kent Hrbek)…
…and then headed around the stadium to the shaded Tony Oliva gate.
Our first inside view of Target Field was from the left field corner and the Twins were taking BP:
The Blue Jays were already stretching by the dugout. Soon, they started to walk down the foul line to play catch. Luis Perez…
…gave us a smile as he walked by so I asked if he’d pose for a picture with Tim and Kellan. He said he would after he played catch. I asked, “Ah, then, could we get your warm up ball when you’re done too!?” He said yes and then headed off to play catch.
But then he must have decided he didn’t want to forget about us, because he walked back over to us a minute later and handed Kellan our first ever baseball at Target Field.
One of our big goals of this game was to get Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first MLB pitch picture. We soon spotted him playing catch just behind third base. Unfortunately, he was on the field side instead of the foul line side. Anyway, Kellan and I went over there on the off chance we could hook up with Davis:
In the picture above to the left, Rajai is all the way out in CF playing long toss. While we were watching Davis play long toss, the on-field security guard to the right grabbed a ball that had been hit against that protective screen and he walked over and handed it to Kellan.
Thanks, Security Guard!
That was it for BP as far as baseballs go.
And we never got any closer to Davis. He drifted off into CF after finishing playing long toss.
Kellan and I headed back toward the corner spot where Tim and my dad were still waiting on Perez to finish playing catch and come back for a picture…
…, but it was too hot and sunny and Tim surrendered to the sun. He was going to burst into flames if he waited any longer for Perez. So, sadly, we did not get a picture with a Blue Jay.
Instead, we headed toward home plate. We noticed that they let you down into the dugout seats (inside the Moat) during BP. Here is a panorama from within the moat:
Next, we grabbed some water for the boys. And then Tim and grandpa headed off to the team store and Kellan and I headed to the shady spot in RF. On the way, he fell asleep:
Tim and grandpa met up with us and we hung out here for the rest of BP:
Once BP ended, we headed up to the upper deck in the outfield to check out the stadium. An usher was kind enough to take a nice picture of us:
That picture was taken here:
Tim can be temperamental about getting his picture taken sometime…probably because he’s been photographed about 100,000 times in six years. Anyway, I wanted to get our Target Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, but for some reason Tim was adamant that he didn’t want to be in it – just Kellan. So, this was “take 1” of the bonus picture:
Here is what it looks like from the front row of the section just below the CF Target Field sign:
While we were up there, we found a couple of the statues from past all-star games and Tim did funny poses with both:
As we continued to circle around to LF, Tim and I headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium. Check out how steep the steps are in the LF upper deck seats:
Here is what it looks like from the back row up there:
Behind 2B, they had a softball homerun hitting contest set up. Two fans faced off against the hardest hitting mascot ever:
The mascot blasted 6 bombs on 7 swings, including one that hit the back wall of the upper deck.
Then we found another all-star statue. I think this one might be for this season:
After that picture, Tim declared he was extremely hungry. Instead of nachos, he wanted pizza. We walked and walked and walked before we found pizza, but finally found it. And we also found the most awesome food item in the history of Major League Baseball…
The NACHO HELMET!
For the record, our nacho lady only filled ours half way, which was plenty for me and Kellan, but every other nacho helmet I saw all day was overflowing the top of the helmet. We ate our nachos in our seats in the last row (row 10) of section 141:
I really liked these seats. They were great.
Joe Mauer, P.J. Walters and (I’m guessing) the Twins pitching coach headed in from the bullpen for the game to start:
These three dudes were all set for the first pitch of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:
And this was it:
We were desperately needing a water refill, which required me and Kellan to walk all the way behind home plate to find a water fountain. On the way, we saw Jose Baustita bat up close:
All game long, the concourses were absolutely packed:
For the first 3.5 innings, it was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between P.J. Walters and Drew Hutchinson (two guys I had never heard of before this game). To that point, this foul ball by Joe Mauer was one of the offensive highlights of the so-far uneventful game:
Eventually, Kellan needed to get moving. We headed to Target Plaza so he could stretch his travel-weary legs:
After running around for a while in Target Plaza, we headed upstairs in CF. At the deepest part of CF, this is what the concourse looks like:
While I took some pictures, Kellan worked his arm muscles and abs:
Then we took a look at the bullpens:
And deep LF:
And straight away LF:
Then it was time for another leg workout. Kellan ran up and down this ramp from the field level to the upper deck about 3-4 times:
At the top of the ramp, Kellan wanted a solo picture posing with the Twins pig:
And then it was more running. He ran a lot!
Eventually, we headed back to our seats through the field level concourse. I took a picture from the concourse behind the odd seats in deep RCF:
They are tucked under the upper deck seats.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hutchinson loaded the bases and then walked in the first run of the game for a 1-0 Twins lead.
Before sitting down again, Kellan and I grabbed some two-toned dipping dots helmets:
Those are some sweeeeeeet helmets. I love ‘em. These are our first two-tone helmets.
You can see this in some of the panoramas, but I figured I should take a picture of the “have’s” seating on the fancy side of the moat:
On the last game of the 2011 GFS Roadtrip, Johnny Damon hit a ball off the top of the RCF wall at the Trop. They called it a homerun. I could tell with my unaided eyes that it had hit the bar on the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field without leaving the ballpark. They reviewed it. And eventually Damon was told to head back out to second base.
In the top of the sixth inning of this game, Jose Bautista became the second player in as many GFS Roadtrip games to hit a disputed shot to the wall:
With my unaided eye, I could tell it bounced in the bushes above the OF wall and it should be a homerun. I was right. After stopping for a few minutes at 2B, Jose was told to finish his trip around the bases:
The boys were growing restless and I still needed to tour around the upper deck in the infield. We decided to make it a four-man trip. First, we headed to a little hallway on the second deck on the 1B side where Tim got his picture with a model:
And then we headed all the wall down the RF line in the upper deck – where the usher told me to reposition myself to take these pictures (I must have been blocking the view of some people in a downtown building because there was nobody (and no seats) behind me):
Then we walked around the upper deck:
There were a lot of people in the concourse up there too. Unluckily, as you circle around home plate, there is an elevated walkway so you can stay out of the concourse.
Circling around home plate, I asked an usher to take our picture…
…and he warmed me that the sun would blast us in the face in the photo.
As we walked, I continued to take photos of the field…
…and of my boys and dad:
As we walked, we saw an awesome play. Someone hit a foul pop up behind 3B. The Jays short stop Yunel Escobar rushed back to make the play, but he bobbled the ball up into the air and Jays left fielder Jose Bautista swooped in to snatch it out of the air for the rare 6-7 put out:
Tim and I climbed to the highest seats in LF for this picture:
And at the bottom of that section, I snapped this cute picture of Tim, Kellan and my dad:
As we headed back to the RF corner to head down to the lower level, Joe Mauer launched a deep drive. It was the craziest I have ever heard a crowd go for a double:
We headed back to our seats, but then I realized I never went up into the RF bleachers. So Tim and I headed over there. On the way, we took this picture of the worst SRO area ever:
All you can see is the right fielder and a TV screen. On the plus side, it is completely shaded (under the RF bleachers).
The connection between the RF seats and the CF seats makes for some crazy angles at Target Field. I wish I had done a better job photographing it. But I did get this awesome picture of two lone seats at the top of a mini-flight of steps:
Then we *scaled* the RF bleachers. It was like rock climbing, I would imagine. At the top I got this panorama:
And this photo of nervous-from-the-height Tim:
Here are some fun angles that make it look like the bullpen is at the bottom of a hole:
And then it was time to slowly walk back down the steep steps:
Approaching the stairs down to Target Plaza, I got this picture of the plaza…
…and one of Tim in front of the Twins Live set.
Late in the game, Bautista was on first base and I was just sure something was about to happen. I was right, they tried to pick him off first unsuccessfully:
It was dark now and the ballpark signs looked great – check it out:
The Blue Jays had pulled ahead to a 2-1 lead, and they held on to win the game, which pleased Tim. He had declared the Blue Jays to be his team to win early in the game.
After the game, I had an usher take a family shot of us…
…and it took Tim a few minutes to realize I had duped him into posing for a Target Field bonus picture. Haha!!
On our way out of the stadium, Tim (in quite possibly his oldest looking picture ever) showed his respects for the Great Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist (#18):
So there you go. One game down on the Roadtrip. Another great night and another great stadium. In the morning, we would drive to St. Louis for a couple games between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium. It would prove to be a super long drive, but well worth it.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|5/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|9/8 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins|
|6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2|
|25 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|5/4 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
I just spend a week in Minneapolis. I wanted to tour Target Field, but I was incredibly busy all week and the chances didn’t look good. One evening, just before my trip through the Metrodome, I headed over to Target Field just to check it out in daylight.
It was looking good:
I peaked through Gate 29 and I could see workers taking a plastic cover off of the field:
I finally got my chance just before leaving Minneapolis. When I arrived at the box office to purchase a tour ticket, there were two guys and a dog sitting in chairs next to their tent:
See that lady in the red jacket above? She was on my tour. We chatted a bit. She was very nice and she gave me a run for my money for the title of most pictures taken on the tour…but I still think I got her on it.
My tour ticket looked like a game ticket and was beautiful:
The first thing we did was hop in an elevator right next to Gate 29 and the team store. We went up a couple floors and headed to our first stop — the Metropolitan Club:
Remember all of those windows in the picture above? Well, the Metropolitan Club (as show here) is inside those windows. The Metropolitan Club is a special club for season ticket holders and their guests. There is a bar and a big buffet is served before each game.
Target Field is chock full of history. Everywhere you go, there are pictures, paintings and display cases showcasing the Twins and Minnesota’s baseball history. And almost everything is named after a Twin, a Minnesotan, or a Minnesotan lankmark.
Inside the Metropolitan Club, the Twins have a series of photographs of all-time baseball greats, like the picture of Babe Ruth above playing in Minnesota on the old “barnstormer” tours. The sign next to the picture says, “Babe Ruth made an appearance at Nicollet Park during an exhibition game in September 1935.” The picture above to the left is of old Metropolitan Stadium and it covers the entire wall behind the host’s station at the Metropolitan Club entrance.
Here is a panorama of Target Field through the Metropolitan Club windows:
For $5 extra, season ticket holders can watch the game from the two rows of seats outside of the Metropolitan Club.
Next, we exited the Metropolitan Club walked down a hallway with pictures of all 30 current MLB stadiums, and our next stop was the Johnny Blanchard party suite:
There are about 7 of these suites on this level. I think that Dick said they cost about $100 per person (assuming you fill the suite to capacity, which I think was something like 30 people). This picture is not very good. The suite was big, modern and very nice. It has a really big kitchen area with a full-sized refrigerator.
Here is a panorama of Target Field from inside the Johnny Blanchard suite:
42 is Jackie Robinson, 34 is Kirby Puckett, 14 is Kent Hrbek, 6 is Tony Oliva, 29 is Rod Carew, and 3 is Harmon Killebrew. Dick informed us that 28 will soon be added to the list for Hall of Famer-elect Bert Blyleven.
Here are some shots of the Twins big screens:
The big one over the upper deck seats in left field is huge. Dick said that if you placed the Timberwolves basketball court in the middle of the big screen, you would have three feet of extra screen space on all four sides of the court. It looks pretty nice.
Last season, the big scoreboard was the only big screen at Target Field. Apparently, people in LF complained because they couldn’t see it (particularly from the lower deck), so they just recently put up a smaller big screen above the upper deck seats in RF. Dick said the RF screen is 1/4 the size of the main scoreboard screen.
After we left the Johnny Blanchard suite, we entered a hallway leading to the Legends Club. The hallway was full of memorabilia and informative pictures, diagrams, etc., about Target Field. One wall told all about the construction of Target Field with tons of pictures of the entire process. For example, there are pictures of the 41 miles of heating tubes below the field at Target Field. The tubes are set to a temperature during the winter that allows the grass to go dormant, but prevents a hard freeze from setting in.
There was also a display case all about the first game at Target Field. It had all of the bases, the pitching rubber, pictures of the umpires, important baseballs, scorecards, etc. My favorite thing in the display case was this:
It is the first homerun ball ever hit at Target Field along with a picture of A.J. Nitzschke, the lucky Twins fan who caught the Jason Kubel homerun. Behind the picture of A.J. is a short letter A.J. wrote describing the big day. This seems like a great touch to me. The Twins clearly understand that the fans are what allows professional baseball to exist, and therefore they made space to celebrate an important fan experience from opening day right along with the on field stuff.
In an interesting side note, Dick mentioned that the Twins offered A.J. an autographed game-used Jason Kubel bat in exchange for the first Target Field homerun baseball. However, A.J. is apparently a big Joe Mauer fan so he requested an autographed Mauer bat. Mauer and the Twins were happy to make A.J.’s request happen. Not only did he get the autographed Mauer bat, he got to meet both Mauer and Kubel. (Maybe the Marlins should take some notes from the Twins).
Just behind the opening night display case is the architect’s model of Target Field:
Next, we headed into the Legends Club. I took this picture of the front desk at the Legends Club because I loved the huge picture behind the desk:
The Legends Club wraps from the 1B side to the 3B side. Here is the 1B side of the Legends Club all set up for some event (there are 22 spaces that companies/individuals can rent out for functions at Target Field):
And here is a panoramic view of Target Field from the 1B side of the Legends Club:
Just past the Legends Club seating area (two pictures above) is the Kirby Puckett Lounge. The lounge has several display cases full of Kirby memorabilia. Its amazing stuff, including his 1991 World Series ring and his Hall of Fame ring:
Pictured above to the right is a bar with Kirby’s signature on the base of the bar and his image burned/etched (not sure which) into the wooden wall behind the bar. By the way, in addition to his rings, the Kirby Puckett Lounge features several game jerseys, cleats, bats, a gold glove award, pictures, magazine covers, etc., etc., etc. Much of the stuff is on loan to the Twins from the Puckett family.
Next, we headed to the press box (print media):
This lounge is named in recognition of Harmon Killebrew’s 573 career homeruns and it featuers a Killebrew-based display case including the bat he used for his final career homerun and the baseball (also with a notation of who caught it — I think it was caught be a reliever in the bullpen). Interestingly, Killebrew hit his final homerun as a Kansas City Royal playing against the Twins in Minnesota.
Next, we headed up the stairs in the 573 Lounge and entered the private suite level. At the top of the stairs was a cool panoramic painting of Target Field:
The suite level hallway is lined with paintings and pictures. In one section of the hallway, there were pictures of each of the Twins to have won batting titles. Further down the hallway toward LF, there are painting of each person who has served as the Twins manager over the years — a surprisingly small group of people. Here are the paintings of the last two managers — Tom “T.K.” Kelley and Ron Gardenhire:
Next, we visited the “Skyline Deck,” which (true to its name) has an excellent view of the Minneapolis skyline. Here is a panoramic view of Target Field from the concourse directly behind Section T of the Skyline Deck:
We took a tour of Chase Field when we were in Arizona for Spring Training and our guide hyperventilated if you walked 3 feet away from the tour group, and we were never allowed down into the actual rows of seats. So, not wanting to ruffle Dick’s feathers, I asked politely if I could run down to the first row to take some pictures. He was absolutely fine with it. He just told me to catch up with the tour and he led the rest of the people away (toward the LF foul pole) as I ran down to the first row.
So, thanks to Dick, here is a panorama of Target Field from the first row of Section T of the Skyline Deck:
After a few minutes down in the first row, I ran over to the foul pole to catch up with the group. Before hopping onto an elevator with the group, I got this panorama of Target Field from the concourse in the LF foul corner:
That last panorama cut off a lot of the field. Its hard to get a good panorama when you are shooting from up high and trying to wrap around a corner. So I ran around the roof deck looking for the best spot to capture a good picture of the view from up there. My second attempt was from the top of a couple standing room risers:
By the way, the roof deck is totally separated from everything else. To get to any other level or seating section, you have to take an elevator down from the roof deck. Also, you can only get up to the roof deck if you have special roof deck tickets.
From high atop the roof deck, we took the elevator all the way down to the bowels of target field. We walked around from LF toward the visitors’ clubhouse on the 3B side.
En route to the clubhouse, we stopped to take a look at “Keg Room No. 5.” Check it out:
Apparently Twins personnel were always carting around kegs through the Metrodome concourses, which wasn’t ideal for fans walking the concourse. So, at Target Field, they now have (I think) 8 “keg rooms.” See the yellow arrow above the keg room? Instead of taking kegs to each of the beer stands, all of the kegs are in the keg rooms and there are 14.8 miles of “beer pipes” twisting their way through Target Field delivering crisp, cold beer straight from the keg rooms to your plastic beer cup.
Next up, the visitors’ clubhouse. Here are three pictures:
In the top picture, that is the main clubhouse area with the player lockers and couches in the middle. As photographed in that picture, the field is to the right of the clubhouse. Directly to the right of where I was standing when I took the top picture, is the little kitchen area shown above to the left. Finally, just down the hallway from the clubhouse (on the way to the dugout) is the single batting cage shown above to the right.
They took us into the visitors dugout, which (as mentioned above) was encased in a wood cover:
Let me explain the yellow and green arrows. First, the bottom left picture is the view from the 3B side of the dugout (where the players enter the dugout) toward the homeplate side. There are little spaces between the wood cover and the railings in the dugout. The picture above to the right is looking toward home plate through the front-homeplate side space in the dugout cover. Essentially, I just stuck my camera through the hole in the dugout and snapped a picture without knowing what it would look like.
I did the same thing on the 3B-side of the dugout (at the green arrow in the top right picture above), but I took a couple totally blind photos that I was able to piece together to make this half-way decent panorama:
Next, we headed to the Champion’s Club, directly behind home plate under the fancy seats. Here are a couple photos of what it looked like in there:
The Champion’s Club essentially goes from dugout-to-dugout and it has several entrances to the super-luxury seats behind home plate. On the far 1B-side of the Champion’s Club, there is a window where people can watch the Twins take hacks in their two batting cages:
I’m not sure if Dick was going to take us out into the seats (which were still partially covered in snow), but I didn’t wait around to ask. I tested the door and when it was unlocked, I bolted for the seats. (By the way, Dick later brought just a handful of people out into the seats. He absolutely didn’t care that I was already out there taking pictures).
Here is a panorama of Target Field from (approximately) row B of Section 7 of the Champion’s Club:
Our tour was winding down. It was a great tour that lasted almost two hours. On our way out of the Champion’s Club, we stopped to look at the 1987 and 1991 World Series trophies. They are in the entrance way to the Champion’s Club, which had really odd lighting that made my pictures look terrible. But it was cool to see the trophies, along with three world series rings.
Dick took us back up an elevator on the 1B side and we ended up right where we began the tour. Before heading out, I ran over to the seats and took a couple more panoramas.
Here is a panorama of Target Field from the concourse directly behind section 103:
Bottom line: Target Field is beautiful. The Twins did a great job designing the stadium and filling it with loads of Minnesota baseball history. If you’re in Minnesota and the Twins are playing, definitely stop by Target Field for a game. If they are not in town, stop by anyway and grab a tour. You’ll love it.
I just returned from a business trip to Minneapolis. I flew into town after dark on Monday and was in a conference room all day Tuesday. But I managed to work in a little Target Field experence.
When checking into my hotel, I asked for a map to downtown. It didn’t have Target Field on it. Instead, it had a blank spot that said “2010 New Twins Stadium.”
After settling into my room, I walked over to Target Field. My first impression before even making it to the stadium was that Minneapolis was a great looking city. Extremely clean. Cool. Thumbs up.
I took an elevated walkway past the Target Center toward Target Field. One of the first signs of baseball that I saw was…
After I crossed under the skybridge, I saw statue in a familiar pose:
It was Kirby Puckett’s homerun trot from Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. (FYI, my dog, Kirby, is named after Kirby Puckett).
The main approach to Target Field (down 6th Street) enters into Gate 34 (Kirby Puckett, you know), and the focal point of the approach is this big wall:
Here is a Twins sign over the team store:
Down the 3B line, I found this little glass room — which appeared to be some sort of train station entrance:
I walked down this road, cross into the parking garage, took the elevator up to the sixth floor, and found a good spot to take a picture of this Twins sign:
As I started to walk away from the stadium, I found that I’d missed a statue of…
I was happy to see that Carew was batting with his baseball cap in his back pocket:
On Tuesday, I started the day in a conference room with a view of…guess what???
But, wait. While on the other side of the building, I snapped a picture of the beautiful H.H.H. Metrodome:
…the “Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome” all of a sudden has been renamed…
And with that disappointing news, the baseball aspect of my trip was finished.
Bottom line: Target Field was beautiful. I cannot wait to visit again for a game.