9/24/99 and 9/25/99 at The Metrodome

In September of 1999, I was a senior at Guilford College, and I was dating a lovely young woman named Alli. Alli had family in Minnesota, and I’d never been to the Metrodome — and that’s the exciting story of how I ended up there for a weekend.

The first game I attended was on a Friday, and as you can see, the weather was horrible:

1_outside_the_metrodome_09_24_99

Look at all that snow and ice! Good thing the Twins had a dome because it would’ve been miserable to stay outdoors.

Here’s a photo of me outside the “Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome” as it was officially called . . .

2_zack_outside_the_metrodome

. . . and here’s one more shot of the exterior:

3_outside_the_metrodome

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, as was often the case in the 1990s, I didn’t take any photos during batting practice, but I can tell you this: I snagged a bunch of baseballs. The first was a homer by the Twins that landed near me in the left field seats as soon as I ran in. I snagged the next ball off the hector_carrascowarning track with my glove trick. (Alli was planning to arrive at game time; her younger brother Matt was with me, and he was impressed.) My third ball was thrown by Hector Carrasco after I asked for it in Spanish. (This was my 1,500th lifetime ball, and I was quite happy about it.) I used my glove trick again for ball No. 4 in the gap behind the outfield wall in left-center, and let me tell you, it was quite a challenge; the ball was so far below me that I had to tie an extension to the piece of string already on my glove.

Matt had never snagged a ball, so when the White Sox came out, I lent him an extra Sox cap and suggested that he try to get a player to toss one to him along the right field foul line. While he was gone, I caught a line-drive homer on the fly. (I have no idea who hit it.) Ten minutes later, Matt returned with a ball — the first one of his life — and he was VERY excited. Then, toward the end of BP, I used more Spanish to get Jesus Pena to throw me my sixth ball of the day.

After BP, I got my picture taken at the 1st base dugout . . .

4_zack_inside_the_metrodome

. . . and then took a few shots of the stadium. Here’s a look at the seats along the 1st base side:

5_metrodome_first_base_side

This was the view from behind home plate . . .

6_metrodome_pregame_view_behind_home_plate

. . . and here’s what right field looked like from that spot:

7_metrodome_pregame_view_behind_home_plate

Here’s what the last two photos look like when combined (poorly) in Photoshop:

8_metrodome_panorama

The paid attendance at this game was only 11,308. There were so many empty seats that I was able to sit like this during the third inning:

9_chillin_at_the_metrodome

I don’t remember why I wasn’t going for baseballs, but I’d like to smack the 22-year-old version of myself as a punishment. I do know (thanks to my original handwritten journal, which I’ll share at the end of this entry) that I’d spent the first part of the game with Alli and Matt and another member of their family near our actual seats behind the 1st base dugout. I guess I must’ve wandered off on my own for a bit to explore. Maybe I left my backpack with them and only took my camera? Anyway, I took two more photos from that spot. Here’s one . . .

10_metrodome_outfield_seats

. . . and here’s the other:

11_metrodome_field_and_roof

As I’ve said about lots of old stadiums, and this was certainly true of the Metrodome, it was fugly and I was happy to be there. The only time I wasn’t happy was when I struggled during BP to track fly balls against the white roof. It was so tough that I practically felt unsafe.

I wandered around the concourse for a bit . . .

12_metrodome_tunnel_to_seats_during_game

. . . and briefly ended up in right-center field:

13_metrodome_view_from_center_field

I should mention that the first two rows of seats in left field were roped off to prevent fan interference.

At the time, the game was unremarkable — the Twins won, 6-2 — but looking back now at the box score, I see that there were some big names . . . before they were big. For the White Sox, Paul Konerko was wrapping up his first full season, and Magglio Ordonez was enjoying his first All-Star campaign. For the Twins, Christian Guzman was a rookie and David Ortiz was struggling to prove himself; the big fella went 0-for-2 in this game and finished the season 0-for-20 with 12 strikeouts.

After the final out, I took one last photo . . .

14_metrodome_tunnel_to_seats_after_game

. . . and collected 14 ticket stubs. Four of them looked like this . . .

15_metrodome_ticket_stubs_09_24_99

. . . and the other ten looked like this:

16_metrodome_ticket_stubs_09_24_99

As for my second game at the Metrodome, would you believe that I didn’t even bring my camera? For some reason, I also neglected to check out the upper deck — something I normally do at every stadium I visit — so I never got a photo up there or even a glimpse of the view. What the hell was I thinking?

Thankfully I was thinking straight when I skipped out on some boring touristy activity with Alli and her family in order to make it to the dome on time for BP. Unfortunately, though, it was Fan Appreciation Day, and the attendance (26,324) more than doubled. The stadium was packed early on, and my ballhawking suffered as a result. I got shut out during the 40 minutes that the Twins were on the field, and I only snagged two baseballs during the White Sox’s portion of BP — a toss-up from Carlos Castillo along the RF foul line and a toss-up from Keith Foulke in left field. Before the game, I got Marty Cordova to throw me a ball at the Twins’ dugout on the 3rd base side, and that was it. Three baseballs. Meh. Nine in two days. Double-meh. (All these years later, there are 42 stadiums at which I’ve attended at least two games; the Metrodome is the only one where I failed to reach double digits.)

I don’t remember where I sat during the game. I don’t remember anything really, but evidently I collected an absurd number of ticket stubs after the final out:

17_metrodome_ticket_stubs_09_25_99

According to my journal (which I’m about to share), there was “all night softball” at the dome, which basically meant that a bunch of crappy beer-league teams got to play there until 3am, and fans were allowed to hang out in the stands. That’s why I got so many tickets. I had endless time to comb through the empty rows and look for them — well, until Alli and her family came to pick me up. Oh, and the White Sox won, 13-4.

Now, here’s the beginning of my long journal entry:

18_journal_volume56_page98_99

Before heading to the first game at the dome, I visited the Mall of America:

19_journal_volume56_page100_101

Here’s the part where I snagged my first few baseballs, including No. 1,500 from Hector Carrasco:

20_journal_volume56_page102_103

Of course I journaled about the food, which was surprisingly good:

21_journal_volume56_page104_105

So much bleeping:

22_journal_volume56_page106_107

This next double-page wraps up my ballhawking at the Metrodome . . .

23_journal_volume56_page108_109

. . . but I still had lots more to say. Here’s a story (which I had totally forgotten until I reread it) about some kids I talked to during the game:

24_journal_volume56_page110_111

Looking back on it, I cringed at the fact that I didn’t give them a ball — and that I seemed to tease them a bit. (I didn’t use to give baseballs away. Now I do. It’s that simple.) Ultimately, though, they ended up thinking I was the greatest dude ever, and I had a nice chat with their father.

I hung out with Alli and her family after the game:

25_journal_volume56_page112_113

Here’s where the journal entry ends. Just for the hell of it, I’ve included a bonus page (on the right) from my following entry so you can see what happened when I got back to campus:

26_journal_volume56_page114_115

Here’s one more photo, taken at the Mall of America, which shows the location of home plate from the Twins’ old ballpark, Metropolitan Stadium:

27_metropolitan_stadium_home_plate_at_the_mall_of_america

On a final note, if you’d like to check out my previous “Turn Back The Clock” blog entries, here’s a list:

 

1) June 11, 1993 at Candlestick Park
2) June 11, 1996 at Shea Stadium
3) July 2, 1998 at Cinergy Field
4) July 10, 1998 at Tiger Stadium
5) July 13, 1998 at County Stadium
6) July 14, 1998 at Busch Stadium
7) May 29, 1999 at the Kingdome
8) July 18, 1999 at the Astrodome
9) July 17-18, 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium

 

20 Comments

How about a blog about the last game at which you failed to snag a baseball? That would be an interesting read, especially the journal entry, if there anything to read between the blacked out parts ;)

I absolutely love this entry, Zack! I don’t know if you know or not, but I live in Minnesota and the Twins are my favorite local team. The Metrodome is one of my favorite ballparks so it was awesome to get to read about it and see pictures from more than 10 years ago!
-Paul K
http://apieceofthegame.mlblogs.com

Interestingly enough, I’m going to be catching a Metrodome batting practice in about two hours. Oh, and how is that reminiscing on McGwire and Sosa going for you?
-Mateo
http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

Just got a orioles broken bat and can’t identify signature. Who can help me with that?

Our one and only game at the Metrodome was awesome. I loved the place. Very Kingdome’ish…and, of course, the Kingdome was the single best sporting venue in the history of sport. Go Mariners!

Ok, this article has really ticked me off. I mean they’ve already brought in the fences to a laughable extent, shrunk the strike zone to the point where a Chihuahua could barely squeeze through, and lowered the “mound” to hardly a swell. Why don’t they do away with the foul-strike rule while they’re at it? These scientists need to gtho of baseball and do something useful with their time, like cancer or clean energy research, instead of messing even more with the delicate balance of our beautiful game. All these “offense, offense, offense” obsessed fans need to go and rediscover basketball, where scoring is as rare and special as a grain of sand in the Mojave. Or maybe it’s time to do away with the first position once and for all, and just stick a machine out there in the box, grooving meatballs all day long. Grrr. One day I may find myself watching…soccer. >:(
http://mashable.com/2013/03/27/baseball-swing-technology/

I mean if they want to increase offense, they could just say that all foul balls that pass directly over the first or third bag are fair, amirite? ;)

Zack do you keep track of the balls you give away? Just curious how many you actually still own out of the 6,000+ balls you snagged?

KSLO69-
The last time I failed to snag a ball at a game was in 1993; I didn’t start keeping a journal until 1995, so there really wouldn’t be a whole lot for me to say if I were to blog about it now.

PAUL K-
Cool, thanks for letting me know. Glad you enjoyed it.

MATEO-
Oh yeah? What the was the deal with your Metrodome BP? McGwire and Sosa. Oy.

TF02-
I recommend you post a photo of it at http://www.reddit.com/r/orioles. Someone there will be able to help you for sure.

COOK & SON-
The Kingdome. Yeeeeeeeeeah. And Shea Stadium was the 2nd best stadium ever.

SAD PIRATES FAN-
I don’t keep track, but I definitely still have more than 5,000 baseballs in my possession.

What do u think will happen with Ryan Braun?

how much would you pay for a Derek jeter game used signed ball?

Zack, last year I believe you posted at the start of the year all the games/teams that would feature commerative baseballs during the season. Do you have that information available again this year?

The University of Minnesota plays in the Metrodome until the weather gets not-freezing enough to play outside. That said, it is to be 20 degrees with windchill today at Target Field, so they may have wanted to stay in there a little while longer since this is the week they go outside.
-Mateo
http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

Zack did you go to the Mets or Yankees opening day games or did the competition factor scare you off?

@Mateo check out my blog and tell me what you think http://brewerbacker.mlblogs.com/

Zack please tell me what you think and spread the word please http://brewerbacker.mlblogs.com/

So I must say that I am surprised that you didn’t go to a game today since there are commemorative baseballs on Opening Day this year.

BEN ZITOUNI-
I have no idea about Braun, and as for the Derek Jeter signed ball . . . nothing because I don’t buy baseballs, but I’m sure someone would pay a lot for it.

KEVIN-
All I know is that the Astros (first season in the AL) and Rockies (20th anniversary) will have them. BigLeagueBaseballs.com is a good place to get that kind of info.

MATEO FISCHER-
Yeesh! Suddenly I feel wimpy for having complained about the recent “cold” weather in New York.

TONY-
I did not attend Opening Day. Excluding last year’s opener at the Tokyo Dome, I don’t think I’ve been to Opening Day since 1996. It’s just not my thing. I’ve been home all day (with some excellent company) watching the games on TV.

GARRETT MEYER-
I wasn’t sure if there were going to be special balls. I emailed someone at MLB last week (who normally gives me that info), but he never wrote back. Anyway, no bog deal. I already have this (thanks to Heath Bell):
http://www.zackhample.com/baseball_collection/photos/commemorative/2007_opening_day2.jpg

Very nice. Yeah this is the first year that the opening day commems have returned since 2007. I got the information about them from the Big League Baseballs forum. They are usually very reliable.

Between the larger crowd – the Nationals had a regular season record 45,274 yesterday – and the higher ticket cost, I can see why going to an Opening Day game is not that alluring, even with a commemorative ball. The lines at the gates before 10:30am for the 1:05pm start were quite long, and the game felt like last year’s postseason game. Both Strasburg and Harper obliged by putting on quite a performance.

One fan got very lucky yesterday when he was in the exact spot Bryce Harper hit his first HR. Check out the video on the link and how he didn’t (couldn’t) have to move to catch the ball. And yes, it was commemorative…

http://www.baseballnation.com/2013/4/1/4171004/bryce-harper-hits-home-run-jayson-werth-catches-it

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