In 1961 the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins as Calvin Griffith moved the ball club and, to completely muddle your mind, the new expansion Washington Senators remained in D.C. until they moved and became the Texas Rangers in 1971. OK, now on to Metropolitan Stadium or “The Met” or when the Vikings played there “The Ice Bowl.”
The first connection I had with the Met was in a televised game between the Twins and Red Sox from the Met in 1961. Carl Yastrzemski received a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate. Why? Simply because Yaz had hit .339 the previous season for the Minneapolis Millers, the 3A Boston farm club from 1958-1960.
For the trivia fans, in 1994 former Red Sox great, George Scott, managed the new Millers of the great Northern League.
The Met was located in Bloomington, a half-way point between Minneapolis and St. Paul. My memory is of a Field of Dreams sitting in the middle of a cornfield, but that was almost forty years ago and the landscape has changed as the Twin Cities have expanded to meet in Bloomington.
The stadium itself was expanded as the years went by to accommodate an increasing number of fans. My first exposure was in the late 1960s and the place was, thanks to those expansions, an architectural jigsaw puzzle. Reminded me of many old New England homes with multiple additions attached on during the years.
Metropolitan Stadium was, to me, hitter friendly. No tall fences to knock down a line drive and a relatively cozy 402’ to center. Left field measures at 343’ down the line and 330’ to right with quite attainable power alleys. I only went to the Met a few times and did sit in the upper deck, which presented a great view, but only at night since the summer could be brutal in the open grandstand. Always a joy to go to the Twin City area since it is Mid-America friendly and the pace of life was a step down from the hyper Eastern style.
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was the result of the Vikings needing a larger NFL style playpen and the Twins, naturally, were part of the deal. Baseball fans called it the “Homer Dome” and it certainly was. The ball seemed to fly off bats in the games I attended. Center was 408′ with LF settled in at 343′ and RF at 327′ and that infamous “Baggie” at 27′.
The company I was employed by was a restaurant chain with a significant number of locations in Minnesota and when the new Mall of America location opened I went to the Twin Cities. Naturally for one, or was it two evenings, I neglected, or put on hold, my point of sale work to enjoy a ballgame. I can honestly say that this place made “The Trop” look five stars. The “Baggie” in right field? Unbelievable.
I went to several games at the Metrodome — what a way to honor a politician — and had some exceptionally good sight lines. Getting a premium seat usually meant calling up a regional director and getting the usual business seats companies purchase.
On my trips I only saw the Red Sox play once. In a game in late May of 1990 I went to an execution disguised as a game. The Final score was 16-0 Twins. Kirby Puckett, who at one time turned down an offer to join the Red Sox, had a double and triple in that game. The Twins just seemed to love that place. Home court advantage?
The roof incidents are well documented, but what has always stood out in my memory is the homage to the NHL with Plexiglas installed in left field. I imagine it was just to add a few more feet to the existing wall.
The HHH Metrodome has now, thankfully, joined the Kingdome in our memories, replaced by Target Field. I was planning on a trip to the area for this series but passed. I have a son who is a pilot and Minneapolis is his base of operations and he loves the place and the Twin City area. I fully accept his judgment on the park and the area, from my personal perspective, is one of the most beautiful and friendly in the country to visit.