As I got off the bus and saw it there, my breath caught in my throat for a moment. I have been near it before, but today was MY day. Today I was getting to be a part of it. We walked towards the stadium and crossed the street, the kind-yet-stoic crossing guard waving us on, whistle in mouth, donning his fluorescent yellow vest. Stepping onto the sidewalk I looked left to see the championship banners hung proudly against the honey-colored bricks…1965, 1969, 1970…We turned to our right and walked along the sidewalk, my son being drawn in by the megastore with offerings of every kind and color for this, HIS team. And there, around the corner was this beautiful wall, so simple in its design, yet magical in its effect-a building-sized wall of metal tags that each dangle from a frame. When the wind is silent, they mean little…but then the breeze…and your eye is captivated by this beautiful effect of mist rolling across the stadium, or of an undisturbed surface of a lake being rippled.
The energy hit us at once as we turned that corner-the excitement, the feeling of all being there for one reason, all robed in varying shades of red and white and blue, with the same TC logo, to support this team. We found our gate and entered, immediately heading for the souvenir stand to buy the coveted foam finger. I stood there staring at the wall of mist, entranced by its effect and then allowed my eye to wander left towards this tall light tower, with TC traveling up and down in various patterns and effects. I breathed in deeply and thought, I have never been high, but I am sure this is close to what it must feel like.
Foam finger purchased, we climbed the stairs to our level and found the section where our seats were located. The height dizzying at first, but easily adjusted to. The beautiful Kentucky bluegrass was mowed perfectly into a checker pattern with alternating shades of dark and light green, the diamond neatly raked and sprayed, it was nearly game time. As we waited we were approached by several workers in their bright yellow shirts offering various baseball game favorites, using that voice, you know the one-that circa 1915 New York City newspaper boy voice. “Kettle cawn-getch ya kettle cawn he-ah!”
Three years ago I went to my first Twins game. I came home and wrote these thoughts and never published them in my blog. It was so long ago now that I don’t remember why. I suppose life got in the way, as is so often the case. I do remember this day with significance. It was the beginning of my transformation, my acceptance of living here on the tundra, NOT resignation, but acceptance and determination to be happy here in Minnesota, despite the difficulties.
Baseball. I grew up in a household of mild sport fan-dom. I think my parents were Mets fans. We never really talked about it, but I remember Mets paraphernalia around my home. I always enjoyed watching baseball, but my real love started as a young adult when I discovered those magical Yankees 🙂 I became close friends with another woman who had been a lifelong fan and she taught me all I needed to know about the Yanks. I watched every game I could, got to know all the players, their stories, their mannerisms.
Whatever. I hear your shouts and eyerolls. No matter. They were my team. I’ve gotten over justifying to people why I loved them. I loved them for all the reasons anyone else loves a local team. But more than anything, I loved the sport. The sounds of the game, the announcers, the sheer simplicity of the rules. Then I moved here and with all the nonsense of having to buy a special cable channel to watch my Yankees, well, I lost touch with my beloved baseball.
I lived four years without baseball. I was swallowed up here on the tundra, by a lack of friends, a hate for the weather, a non-understanding of the culture, and a resentment that the Twins were now my local team. I lost sight of many of the things that made me who I am, including my baseball love. Until finally, in that life-giving Spring of 2011 (which I have referenced before) when I decided to stop being miserable, where I found beautiful friendships, started to explore this great city, and emerged from my life doldrums, I decided to give the Twins a chance so I could enjoy baseball again. I did it for my love of the game.
I respected the Twins. They had history and tradition behind them. They weren’t a new, commercially-made team with a lame-ass uniform (think late-nineties Arizona Diamondbacks). They had good stories, some locally-made heroes, some successes. I felt that I could support them without completely turning my back on my Yanks.
The Yanks will always be my first love. They got my passion, my fire, as any first love. But the Twins, well, I’m growing older with them, sharing them with my kids. They let me teach my kids all there is to love about baseball, and since they don’t win as frequently as OTHER teams 😉 the kids will know that love for the game isn’t always about winning. It’s about the crack of the bat and the second of collectively-held breath waiting to see if it goes out of the park. It’s about catching a pop-up and getting on the jumbotron (which happened to us at our first Twins game back in my magical spring). It’s about cheering en masse for your team and hoping for some ninth-inning miracle. It’s about the chance to be free of the day’s worries and feel pure joy for a few hours every now and again because you are reminded that you are part of something bigger than yourself.