Well, I’ve been working at 5 of the past 6 Twins home games and I was still at Target Field as a fan for that other game, so I’ve been spending plenty of time in Minneapolis this past week. I have stories to tell, such as announcing assigned spots in the park, being out-ballhawked by a concession worker, getting creative with the seat jigsaw puzzle, meeting friends on accident, and failing to meet other friends despite having plans to do so…stay tuned.
To be honest, I don’t remember much from the Royals series to start the homestand, other than the Twins winning two out of three and beating up last year’s AL Cy Young winner, Zack Greinke. However, I received some interesting news during the series. You see, up until this past week, I had been moved all around the ballpark.
But now, I have a permanent spot inside Target Field. For the rest of the season, I will be at Sections 238 and 239 in the right field grandstand.
I haven’t had a single home run hit into the grandstand during a game, but Justin Morneau and Jim Thome have hit a few up there during batting practice. When I found out this would be my permanent spot, I was sure that I would get a few home run balls all to myself. Sure enough, my first day up there, Morneau hit one into the first row of the grandstand. I didn’t see anyone nearby and the usher I was with said he already had plenty of baseballs, so I ambled over to get the ball.
I was the first to get there, and I found the ball in a puddle of water. I had some towels with me to dry off the wet seats, and as I was drying the ball off, a woman that appeared to be in her mid-20s from the nearby beer stand came over. She took one look at me and said, “Damn, you got the ball!” Well, I already had a ball from batting practice last homestand, so I decided to give her the ball that should have been mine. As you can assume, she was thrilled.
Shortly, I discovered that I must have some bad karma. Just a few minutes later, another ball was hit into our area. It hit a seat in the 4th row, bounced off some stairs, and landed right in this woman’s hands. Now I was thinking that my generosity from a few minutes earlier would be repaid, but instead I heard her say, “Alright! Now I can give one to my son!” Heh, well, I suppose her son is also deserving of a baseball. Yet five minutes later, another ball was hit into the grandstand. It hit the concrete floor near the limestone overhang and bounced down the stairs towards Gate 34. If you get the picture of this woman’s personality, you’d know that two balls weren’t enough for her, so she went running down the stairs after that third ball. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, I gave her a ball, and she’s going to end up with three! By now, some higher power must have felt bad for me, as someone near Gate 34 ended up getting to the ball before this concession worker.
Well…that higher power didn’t feel bad for me for too long. Two games ago, this woman did end up getting her third batting practice baseball. By this time, I figured there was no way she’d repay me for the ball that I gave her a couple games earlier, but I was still a bit annoyed with her reaction: “Wow, I got three baseballs now!” My girlfriend feels that I’m overreacting, but when I only get a smile on my face after receiving a ball, it’s easy to rub me the wrong way when you treat every single baseball like it’s Christmas.
Oh, and the worst part of this whole thing? According to the older usher that is permanently in Sections 235-236, concession workers aren’t supposed to keep batting practice baseballs. They’re not even supposed to watch batting practice.
Strikeouts: The San Francisco Treat
My girlfriend Abby and I walked up to Target Field on Friday night and bought standing room only tickets. We didn’t feel like standing for the entire time we were there, so after sitting in the right field overhang during the remainder of the Twins batting practice, we headed over to the Town Ball Tavern. We each had a drink, and then looked for some food. Even though I knew we weren’t supposed to do this, we took some handicapped seats so we could eat our food (don’t worry Michael and Sam, we left before the game started). But before we could borrow some seats for 20 minutes, we ran into Topper from Curve For A Strike and Betsy from For The Love Of The Game, completely on accident. I thought I heard that they would be in Section 216, so after Abby and I finished our food, we headed up towards 216.
If you’ve never been to Target Field, there is collection of four bars (well, technically only one but they are all separated by hallways which lead to stairs in the 200 level behind home plate) called the Twins Pub. After learning where we could and couldn’t stand with our standing room tickets, we eventually took refuge in the Twins Pub outside Sections 215 and 216.
If we had been paying more attention to the game, we would have known that Francisco Liriano made history. Yet when I thought he had only two strikeouts in the game, I received a text from my friend Brady that he tied the Twins record with 7 strikeouts in a row. SEVEN??? I looked up at the scoreboard. At that point in time, Liriano had 8. Oops. No wonder the crowd was cheering so loudly.
We eventually found out that only Betsy was in 216, so we decided to give up on trying to find seats to sit in for the game. The Twins ended up taking the lead late against the Braves and got the win for Liriano, though Tim Hudson was certainly deserving as well. After the game, Abby and I headed back to the Town Ball Tavern, and we ended up meeting Topper, Emily, John Bonnes, and John’s wife. Overall, it was a very good night, but I think being able to pay enough attention so I could have remembered Liriano’s seven consecutive strikeouts would have been nice.
One of the times I was on Fanatic Jack’s podcast, I was asked by his co-host Topper about what was the oddest question I had ever been asked as an usher. When this question was posed, I replied with a woman in her 60s or 70s asking me, “What can Guest Services do if my husband’s walker breaks?” That has now been replaced with “Where can I find gluten-free beer?” (Target Field does have one gluten-free brand).
What is my point to this? Well, I now have a story that is easily my most frustrating thing to happen while working as a Target Field usher. I was in Sections 238-239 when a couple men in wheelchairs came up to me. Assuming they had wheelchair seats, I automatically asked for their tickets so I could know which folding chairs had to be removed. However, there was one huge problem. These men did not have wheelchair tickets. They didn’t even have standing room tickets. Nope, they had tickets for seats in the 10th row of Section 237.
We brought our supervisor to help us sort out this mess. Apparently, this was the story from the man in charge:
There were about 50 people, all of them in wheelchairs, that had bought tickets to the game. When they were ordered, the group asked for wheelchair seats. They were given their tickets and were told that they indeed had handicap-accessible seats, but when they arrived at Section 237, they found out that their seats were up the steepest stairs in all of Target Field.
Now who do we believe? Either someone in the Twins ticket office didn’t tell this group that they didn’t have any wheelchair seats, and then made up a story that there were still handicap-accessible seats, or this guy was making up a story. From talking to a friend I know from Premium Services, he mentioned that a similar thing would happen in the Metrodome, and they would commonly take these people up to sit in the football press box. We ended up distributing this group of 50 around the ballpark and gave them as many wheelchair seats as we could, even though other people had tickets for those seats. Two guys around my age were generous enough to trade their wheelchair seats for the 10th row seats in 237. A family was willing to have 3 people sit behind the 2 that actually needed the wheelchair seats. One guy was blocking the entrance to the 1st row of Section 239, and he had to roll himself backwards whenever someone wanted to enter or leave. I think we had about 16 people sitting in the wheelchair area that was only supposed to have 10. I must say that I was very happy when the game was done and all these people were gone.
I’ve been noticing a common theme, and this has been mentioned by several of my fellow ushers and supervisors. We know that everyone was used to the Metrodome. We know that people like to explore, or want to fix issues on their own, or assume that everything will happen the same way in Target Field as they would in the Dome.
Target Field is not the Metrodome. Please respect this.