Another Perspective of Opening Day

Hey there, everyone. I’m sure you’ve read quite a few impressions of Target Field and Opening Day, and I’ve found another one for you to enjoy. This comes from my friend Laura, someone I’ve known since high school and now works with me at Target Field as a first-year usher. Not only is the following text for Off The Mark, but it was also one of her school assignments. Plus, I want to fulfill the “we are” part of this blog’s URL, so the occasional guest post is certainly welcome.

I love the Minnesota Twins.  I think everyone knows this.  But not everyone knows how much it means to me to be at their Opening Day in a brand new stadium.

My grandpa was a life-long Twins fan.  He watched religiously and even went to his fair share of games while they still played at Metropolitan Stadium.  My grandparents used to babysit me and my brother on the weekends so my mom and dad could go out.  Since the Twins play so frequently, they were usually on the TV.  I would go sit in the living room and watch with my grandpa, asking question after question about what was going on.  That’s how I learned everything I know about the game (and I suppose a little bit of softball background helped).  It’s all because of my grandpa that I’m such a Twins nut.  When you’re sick of me, blame him.  =P

This year, I applied for a job with the Twins in their guest services department.  Thanks to Mike Henke and his recommendation, I got an interview and then later got the job.  All I do is usher and scan tickets, but I’m there and getting paid to be there.  Not many people can say they get paid to watch baseball and be around the park day after day, but I can and I’m extremely thankful.  Hopefully this job will lead me to one that I’ve studied about for four years, but I’ll take what I can get for now.

So, Opening Day…

Driving downtown to get to the game, I was really excited.  I knew it was bound to be a good day because of all the hype with Target Field and the Twins having gone 5-2 on their 7-day, season opening road trip.  But, I didn’t know it was going to be as great as it was.  I have to admit, I was a little worried about not being able to see the game.  When I worked the two exhibition games, I was at a gate scanning tickets.  It was hard to watch the TVs (if there were any) because of having to make sure the smokers (I’ll rant about that elsewhere) get their tickets signed out.  I saw maybe 3 innings of those two games.  I was really hoping I had put in my time at the gates and that I would be rewarded by being in a section for Opening Day.  I clocked in and saw SECTION 131 on the screen and smiled.  I was working a section on Opening Day.  I would get to see the game.

After checking in and getting all the supplies I would need to work in a section (pen, incident cards, fan conduct cards, a jacket, etc.), I went upstairs to visit my dad in the nonprofit stand.  How fun is it that my dad and I both got to be at Opening Day?  I thought it was great.  When we get to our designated section, we have a meeting with our team leads.  These are always interesting and it’s fun to meet everyone since I obviously don’t know many people yet.  From the meeting we get split up into specific aisles of the area.  I was in 128-129.  At the Dome we never had to worry about wiping down seats, but in an outdoor park you kind of have to.  I wiped down the entire section so they were ready for the fans to come running in at noon.

And run in they did.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to work at a gate, but I would venture to say it was out of control.  The gates open OUT at Target Field, but there were probably thousands of people pushed up so close to the gates that getting them open would have been an issue.  But that’s what Opening Day is all about.  The craziness makes it one of the best days ever.

It didn’t take fans long to all the seating areas.  Left and right field were popular spots since the Twins had just started batting practice when gates opened.  Home runs were plenty and there were a lot of players in the outfield throwing balls up into the stands that just didn’t quite go out.  It was really fun to watch all the fans go crazy for a baseball.  And to take pictures.  Man, did I take pictures.  People would try to hold out the camera and take one of themselves so I tried to step in and ask if they wanted me to take it for them instead.  Most of the time, they said yes.  I was also *in* a lot of pictures, mostly with people I had never met.  For some reason I was part of the “Opening Day experience.”  I’m not complaining.  I think it’s awesome.  It’s just funny to think that those pictures are probably posted on Facebook somewhere, those people with some “random” girl, working the game.  ;)

So enough about that.  Here’s how the game made me feel.

First let me say that this is not my first time opening a brand new stadium.  Being in the University of Minnesota Marching Band had its perks, especially with a new football stadium on campus.  I was there in the end of August, before anyone else had entry.  And I was there the day the Gophers played Air Force and actually won.  Opening Day for the Twins at Target Field was like that but better because the Twins mean way more.

When pregame activities finally started, I could tell I was really excited for the day.  There was heroic music played while legends of Twins teams past helped raise flags in the left field upper deck seats commemorating past Central Division Championships, American League Championships and World Series wins.  I started the day off with goosebumps and they didn’t go away quickly.

The goosebumps were still there when the National Anthem was started.  Construction workers came out from center field carrying what I knew to be a gigantic flag.  (Note: In the UMMB, we have a flag that we call the Big American Representational Flag, or BARF.  I thought there couldn’t ever be anything bigger than that.  Boy was I wrong.)  At the start of the Anthem, the construction workers ran it out and it covered the entire outfield.  For some reason, the National Anthem stirs up tears in my eyes, not because it’s patriotic, but because of the feelings I get when I hear it after playing it so many times on the football field.  I thought about my grandpa and how much he would have loved to see Target Field after experiencing outdoor baseball and then moving indoors and seeing such a potent lineup on the field.  The last notes were sung and I knew it was time to stop the tears and get excited for the game ahead.

I don’t get into the ceremonial first pitches all that much.  Just give me the game.  And they did.

Pavano scared me at first, but when the Twins came up to bat, it was a wonderful thing.  Seeing them in an outdoor ballpark, sun shining was nothing I have ever seen.  I have been to a few outdoor baseball games, but never seen the Twins in that situation.  I don’t miss the Dome one bit.  Not after that.

I was a little distracted until the third inning because I had to run all over creation (getting lost in the process) to find chairs for the wheelchair accessible row.  We were running a little short.  But, this didn’t keep me from paying attention to which Twins player got the first hit.  Thanks to Orlando Hudson and Jason Kubel for boosting me to having two out of three trivia questions right about some of the firsts in Target Field.  C’mon prizes!

There really is nothing like getting paid to watch a baseball game, especially one with a team you’ve been dreaming about working for most of your life.  It doesn’t matter in what capacity because I’m in.  There’s also nothing like experiencing an Opening Day plus a stadium grand opening.  Not an event that comes around all too often.

The Twins bring back memories of loved ones for me and excitement too.  I live for baseball season.  It’s a passion that my grandpa instilled in me at a young age.  Now I just feel lost without it, so I’m glad it’s back for at least 6 months.  I’m lucky to be able to go to so many games this season and I won’t be forgetting it any time soon.

But there’s still nothing like an Opening Day.  So, here’s to an amazing season from the Minnesota Twins.  May there be many hits, walks, and home runs; MVPs, Golden Gloves, and batting titles.  I’m going to enjoy this season because the second one won’t be as awe-inspiring as the first.

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