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Foul-weather fans enjoy the elements — and the surprising win

It was just above freezing at game time Sunday afternoon in windy and drizzly downtown Minneapolis, but that didn’t stop one of the smallest crowds in Target Field history (an announced 20,878) from witnessing a chilly pitcher’s duel and a thrilling win for the pleasantly surprising Twins. MinnPost checked in with some of the hardiest of the hard core, including many who sought refuge from the cold under the heat lamps that ring the stadium. Bundle up:

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jesse Jonsgaard and Katherine Morthey, Red Wing. “It’s better than being at work,” said Jonsgaard. “It’s the Twins. Love the Twins. I’ve been coming 20 years, and even though it’s been a few years [since Target Field opened], it’s outdoor baseball in Minnesota. You know, good tradition with the Metrodome, but this is way better than the Metrodome.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Greg Dryden, Bloomington, and Mike Peterson, Minneapolis. “I’m a baseball freak, and I knew there wouldn’t be anybody here today,” said Dryden. “I go to almost every game and chase balls. In ’05 I counted 352 baseballs I have, batting practice and game balls, but I gave away about 275 of ‘em to the kids and stuff. A couple years back I got Jim Thome’s 590. I caught Todd Sears’ first walk-off homer at the Dome on the fly. I caught Rocco Baldelli’s grand slam bare-handed.”

Peterson: “I have 13 batting practices balls on the year, but I’ve yet to get my first game ball. He’s kind of showing me the ropes.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Dennis Conklin, Cloquet and Nolan Dokken, Bemidji. “I don’t come down to the Cities much, but when I do I’m gonna go to a game,” said Conklin. “I’ve come up playing baseball my whole life. It’s more of a religion in my family than a sport, and I’m hard core and the weather doesn’t matter that much. There could be two people here watching, and I’d be here.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jake Bossert and Alex Mills, Minneapolis, and Steve and Trish Bossert, Fargo. “Last year this weekend, it was snowing,” said Jake Bossert. “It’s nice because you don’t have to wait in line for beers or food, and you’ve got these nice heaters that you can stand under.”

Mills: “And you’ve got hot chocolate with Kahlua, which always helps.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jason Retka, Le Sueur. “This shows you who the real Twins fans are. To me, it’s the whole point of building an outdoor stadium. Why would you build an outdoor stadium if you’re not going to enjoy the elements, no matter what they are? I was here on the second day this place opened, and it was raining, and all the other fans ran up here onto the concourse and I stayed enjoying the wet rain on my skin because we finally had outdoor baseball. I’ve been going to away games for years, just to watch the Twins outdoors.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Shannon Droppf, Shakopee; Barb Droppf, Richfield; Ali Scanlan, Milwaukee.

Scanlan: “She’s our mom.”

Barb Droppf: “I grew up watching the Twins outdoors at the old Met Stadium. We go to Florida now every year for spring training.”

Shannon: “I like the boys and the beer.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jen Groves and Julie Immel, Cambridge. “Baseball’s America’s favorite pastime, and what else are we going to do on our day off?,” said Groves. “I’ll be here no matter what the temperature is. There’s nothing more simple, you can just sit with a beer and enjoy the show. We both work at Wells Fargo. The stadium is ideal and the boys are dreamy.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Pat Hermes (Bear One) and Zach Schlichting (Bear Two), Minneapolis. “We’re T.C.’s twins. We’re going for [a job at Target Field]. T.C., the Twins mascot, is our father, so we come out and cheer him on because he’s the best mascot ever. We wear these to every game. We’ve been doing this since we were 14. This is our 11th season wearing these. We had old ones that my mom made for a Halloween costume for my mom and dad, and we started wearing them to Twins games. When the new stadium came around, we needed new bear suits and his grandma made them for us. We get lots of ‘Did you lose a bet?’ People pull our tails, too, that’s kind of weird but you grow to like it.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Amy McKinnon, St. Paul, Cassie Wanna, St. Paul. “We love baseball season,” said Wanna. “We’ve been rained on, snowed on, it’s always cold, but it’s fun. We just walk around and stay warm and stand under random heaters and [think about] when the nice days come and everybody jumps on the bandwagon after saying, ‘Oh, the Twins are terrible,’ and we’ll just say, ‘Told you.’”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jack Kiecker, Ann Kiecker, Rae Engle, and Jim Kiecker, Anoka; Anna Zuniga, Sara Wilaby, Blaine. “Love baseball,” said Jim Kiecker. “We go down to spring training, we go to a lot of games here. We just like being one of the hardy people who actually made it out, versus the people who are too afraid to come out. Say you were here, and you weren’t afraid to be here.”

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