|Image from "deanscards" blog|
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Greatest Twins homer ever? Maybe it was in 1965
Not only was the old bubble named after a politician, it was named for a Democratic politician. Shudder. Think how the likes of Michele Bachmann would react today. But those were different times back then. Republicans could be moderate. Democrats were the champions of the working people.
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was ushered in with the predictable excitement. It was never described in glittering or ostentatious terms, but we found it fascinating in that it allowed Minnesota to do a 180: from being a state where weather was often problematic for big league sports, to a state where weather was not a factor! Baltimore might have to deal with frequent rain in April, meanwhile our schedule was full-go for the Twins.
The Metrodome replaced grand old Metropolitan Stadium. Again, no corporate naming rights.
There was a time when, in my old profession of journalism, us journos had a real aversion to "plugs." Really - I mean we'd have mixed thoughts about even referring to Target Center as "Target Center." We couldn't stroke those mean ol' business interests, right? I had those notions instilled in me when I studied mass communications. It was a hindrance as I began my own professional career.
The notions didn't seem to last long. They were a holdover of the rebellious and deconstructionist 1960s and early '70s. Corporations were from the dark side of the Force, as it were. In due time we were pulled back to realism and reported on the world as it was, not as it might be if man had no flaws. Problem was, Richard Nixon had so damn many flaws (LOL). The Viet Nam War was more than a glitch in American history, it was an abomination beyond description.
It was naive and simplistic to simply fault capitalism. Time moved on. Eventually corporate naming even came to our Metrodome, as we began to hear references to "Mall of America Field." It's like the James Gremmels Court here at our University of Minnesota-Morris. The name is for the court or field and not for the whole building. Which reminds me, I cringed when Whitey Herzog at the end of the 1987 World Series referred to our Metrodome as a "building." He said of the Twins: "They do well in this building."
It's quite the apt quote for a basketball facility. But of course, baseball is played outside (in theory) in "ballparks." Wondrous ballparks.
Home run for the ages
Let's ask ourselves: What was the most memorable home run in Twins history? Our thoughts go back to the '87 and '91 World Series. Images of Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett pop into our heads. Not necessarily mine.
If you follow my online writing you're aware that one of my main "missions" is to keep alive memories of Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington. That big castle-like structure that stood out on the Bloomington prairie. That expansive parking lot. The curmudgeonly Calvin Griffith. The 1965 World Series. The Twins were only in their fifth year.
When I think of memorable home runs, I think of Harmon Killebrew and the 1965 regular season. "The Killer" had a home run that should still be considered No. 1 in Twins annals. It was a Sunday afternoon. The schedule was almost at the All-Star break. The conditions were hot and sticky as the Twins took the field to play the New York Yankees. The Yankees came out of the nation's media capital and were the most storied franchise in baseball. They were hanging on to their dynastic status of that time. They were barely hanging on.
The point where they had to relinquish that status was when Harmon Killebrew wielded his homer bat at Met Stadium. The Met was jammed with fans. The bottom of the ninth saw the Twins trailing the Yanks 5-4. There were two outs! Pete Mikkelson, a sinker ball specialist as I recall, was on the mound for the Yankees. The Twins had a man on base.
Harmon swung at one and missed, then he fouled off a pitch. And then he almost struck out, but New York catcher Elston Howard (the first African-American to play for the Yankees) couldn't hold a foul tip. Ah, the vagaries of history. The capriciousness. Ol' Harmon finally got the fastball he wanted. The ball went into the left field bleachers on a line. It was like Muhammad Ali knocking out an opponent. The Yankees faded and it was the Twins who went on to take the 1965 American League pennant. We played the Dodgers in the World Series and lost in seven games, never able to overcome Sandy Koufax and his fierce lefthanded deliveries.
Here's some trivia: The first home run Killebrew ever hit at the Met was in 1958! He was playing with Indianapolis in the American Association. The last home run he hit at the Met was in 1975 when he was with the Kansas City Royals and past his prime.
We cherish all the memories of Harmon Killebrew, whether in his prime or not. And, let's never forget Metropolitan Statium, where you could buy the "large size" beer for a dollar! Ah, those lazy, hazy days of summer out at "the Met." Harmon, Tony, Rodney etc.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org