Friday, November 22, 2013

Beyond Homerdome...

                            As of right now, the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays are the only two teams still playing in full time domes. ( a couple others have retractable ones, but that's a different thing...) So it was it was almost the end of an era when Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome ceased to be the home of the Twins in 2009.  The building still serves as the home for the Vikings...until next year, where it will be demolished as soon as their new home is completed.  I write this because parts of the Park/stadium are being auctioned off. ( the baseball sections, anyway)

             The Twins were an outdoor team from their move from Washington to Minnesota in 1961 until 1981.  Then, in 1982-inspired by places like Houston's Astrodome and Seattle's Kingdome- the Twins decided to find a permanent solution to the cold temperatures in early Spring and late fall, and the mosquitoes in the Summer. The move also meant a switch from natural grass to AstroTurf, which half the teams were using then. (the aforementioned Rays and Blue Jays are the only two teams still using artificial turf today)

                The team hadn't had much success in the '70s after being a contender for a good deal of the '60s.  The new decade picked up where the '70s left off...however, they had a core of good young players: Tom Brunansky, Gary Gaetti, Kent Hrbek and (eventually) Kirby Puckett. These would be the players that would help Minnesota win it all in '87 and in '91. The most famous game ever played there was probably game seven of the '91 series, where Jack Morris pitched a ten inning shoutout, beating a young John Smoltz 1-0. That series had a few other notable plays that took place in the Dome: The Chuck Knoblaugh fake out to trick Lonnie Smith into hesitating, and therefore not scoring from first on a double...The Kirby Puckett catch in game six, which he then followed up with a game winning homer.  Cue Jack Buck: "and we'll see you....tomorrow night."

        Actually, the Metrodome as a facility is the only place to host a World Series, an All Star game(1985), a Superbowl (1992) and a NCAA final four (also 1992).  On the downside, it has collapsed on a handful of occasions; due mostly to heavy snowfall, but that only interrupted the football season.  As for baseball, it would regularly wreak havoc on outfielders, as they lost ball after ball in the whiteness of the roof...the most notorious example was when Milwaukee's Prince Fielder hit a high fly ball that Lew Ford completely like 50 feet.  The ball bounced so far away from Ford that Fielder, not exactly a speedster at 265 lbs, turned it into an inside the park home run.  About twenty years earlier, the A's Dave Kingman hit a pop fly that went straight up and through the roof; he was credited with a ground rule double.

         Then there was the game in 2000, when outfielder Butch Huskey ran after a ball which he had no shot at, only to run face first into the left field wall.  It has been on blooper reels ever since, mainly because he didn't get hurt.  It was during "Futuristic uniform day", which made everyone involved in the game look like they were playing for shoguns...from the future.  There was also the baggie in right, which was kind of like the green monster in Fenway; if it had been covered by a 20X100 ft hefty bag.  The park was also called the "Homerdome", due to the large amounts of...uh, homers hit there...although compared to some of today's hitter friendly parks, it was almost Astrodome-like.

        I could make a tasteless joke about homer hankies, but I won't. Instead, a brief history lesson...The park was named after former Minnesota Senator turned Vice President, Hubert H. Humphrey.  I only bring this up, because I am writing this on the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, and I thought it was a strange coincidence that I would write this story that had nothing to do with JFK, but yet, somehow did. (for those of you that failed history class, or haven't watched a T.V. in the last three weeks, Humphrey was LBJ's VP...basically, LBJ wouldn't have been commander in chief (and therefore, Humphrey, not the VP) if it would for that tragedy 50 years ago today...btw, the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is tomorrow...anyone have ideas on That connection? I'm stumped.

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