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  • Twins Home Openers: 1980. 89 Degrees at Gametime

    The Minnesota Twins started the 1980 season with a 12-game west coast road trip and didn't open at Metropolitan Stadium until late in April. I was going to college in Minneapolis at the time and when the day of the home opener dawned warm & sunny, there was no mistaking mother nature's intent for me to go to the ballpark and not my Tuesday classes.

    A buddy of mine had reached a similar conclusion so, seeing as I had the wheels, (a sweet mint green '73 Nova) we hit Zip's Liquor Store for a cooler of cold ones and Clark's Subs for sustenance and cruised down to Met Stadium for a day of tailgating and Twins baseball.

    Temps were already in the 80's and traffic was heavy as every college student in the Twin Cities and half the state workers had been likewise seduced. We inched the last half-mile down Cedar with our windows cranked down and stereos cranked up. We weren't worrying that it was taking forever to get into the Met parking lot, because, hell, it just felt awesome to sit and bake in the sun in the car for a while.

    One-by-one, we finally got in, paid our $2 to park and found our way to the grinning Indian sign in the Cleveland section of the lot. Darn racist, we often admitted, but sure easy to spot. We got in line to get tickets ($4 unreserved bleachers behind 3rd base) and went back to the vicinity of the Nova to kibbutz and nosh and quaff. There were already great smells and great sounds and Frisbees everywhere. We opened the trunk, got out the cooler, and set about formally making some toasts. To the weather. The girls in tube tops. Bombo Rivera...

    It's about this time that the details start getting less distinct. I recall the Twins started their crafty lefty Geoff Zahn. I don't recall the Angels' starter but in looking it up on Baseball Reference see that it was Dave Frost, who had pitched a 10-inning 4-hitter against the Twins a week earlier in Anaheim.

    No such luck for Frost in the rematch. Roy Smalley hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first and Minnesota never trailed after, adding 6 more runs on home runs by Hosken Powell and Ron "Papa Jack" Jackson, a double by Rob Wilfong and base hit by Butch Wynegar. Zahn went the distance, giving up only one run and 6 hits.

    I would have tacked onto the end of the previous sentence "sending the 36,268 in attendance home happy" but for the fact that the Twins, not envisioning 90-degree weather on the 22nd of April, grossly underestimated the walk-up sales and the beer supply required, exhausting their supply long before satisfying demand. This, of course, led to friction in the cases of the less-than-adequately lubricated fans. At least those who didn't have the foresight to stop at Zip's.

    I've had memorable, enjoyable, drama-filled games at the Metrodome and Target Field that I wouldn't mind reliving but to be 21 and do April 22nd, 1980 over again, would be my favorite, I think.

    Postscript: I saw on the box score on Baseball Reference that this game was protested by the Angels. Unless they were miffed by the Twins running out of beer I don't remember why this was. Anyone remember?
    This article was originally published in blog: April 22, 1980; 89 Degrees at Gametime started by Teflon
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      Really enjoyed the article. I made it to two Twins games at the Met. I'm still mad that the first one, in 1978, was on a Sunday. Carew sat that game for Craig Kusick.
    1. Aaron Cross's Avatar
      Aaron Cross -
      A Sunday get-away-day lineup! Was Gardy managing back then?
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Physics Guy View Post
      Really enjoyed the article. I made it to two Twins games at the Met. I'm still mad that the first one, in 1978, was on a Sunday. Carew sat that game for Craig Kusick.
      On the other hand, a lot of people can say they saw Carew play. But how many can say the same about Kusick?
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      On the other hand, a lot of people can say they saw Carew play. But how many can say the same about Kusick?
      Apparently 11,685 from that very day:

      August 20, 1978 Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins Play by Play and Box Score - Baseball-Reference.com
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      That was a good read! I remember an opening game in April back in the '60's when it wasn't nearly that hot, but felt unusually warm. I was in the left field bleachers and Calvin only had one beer vendor out there and he ran out. The guy in front of me left his wife on a beer run and came back 3 innings later. As he went to sit back down he spilled both of the beers. I thought he was going to cry.

      The whole left field bleachers were chanting for beer the last 4 or 5 innings, to no avail.

      I also had Lee Stange tell me how cold the pitchers were on opening day out in the bullpen in 1961. They were still working on the stadium and stuff was laying around, so Lee and a few others gathered up some 2x4's and other wood and started a fire in a big drum. The next day Calvin had some heaters out there for them.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Thank you. This article really made me smile.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      Found the reason for the Angel's protest from Retrosheet - "Angels protest game based on bullpen mounds being too flat."
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