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Last Thursday evening, Hubby, Young Son, Nephew and I attended the Twins game at Target Field in Minneapolis. As part of being a finalist in the Minnesota Idea Open, Hubby got four free tickets. Other than Nephew, who is a huge Twins fan and plays baseball himself, the rest of us had never been to a pro game. (Well, maybe I was to one when I was younger, but my memory on that point is fuzzy.)

Even though Hubby, Young Son and I don’t follow pro sports, the event was exciting on several counts. Target Field opened this spring, a brand-new open-air ball field. The exterior is surfaced with limestone and one area features three stone mosaic scenes. A promenade along one side of the stadium has large reproductions of baseball cards of past Minnesota Twins. There is a huge plaza outside the stadium where food vendors have carts for pre-game sales. Visitors can access public restrooms and have their pictures taken with several pieces of baseball-related art in the plaza as well.

One of the Target Field gates, this one accessible from the plaza. May 6, 2010.

One of the Target Field gates, this one accessible from the plaza.

Target Field restroom sign. It was a major relief to spot these after our car trip. May 6, 2010.

Target Field restroom sign. It was a major relief to spot these after our car trip. May 6, 2010.

Me, sitting on a piece of public art at Target Field. May 6, 2010.

Me, sitting on a piece of public art at Target Field. May 6, 2010.

Kirby Puckett statue at Target Field. He looks like he's going to punch someone. May 6, 2010.

Kirby Puckett statue at Target Field. He looks like he's going to punch someone. May 6, 2010.

Once we used the bathrooms and got ourselves situated, we had to check in with the MN Idea Open folks at Gate 6. This is where we picked up our tickets and received a bag of goodies from the MN Idea Open, including a t-shirt and a sweatband (the kind that was popular in the 1980s). We were told the schedule for the evening, which was to include a parade around the inside of Target Field soon after we were let in the gate.

Around 6 p.m. all of the MN Idea Open guests (there were about 500 of us) gathered back at the gate (on the inside because the announcer dude at Target Field kept telling us while we were waiting that there was no re-entry). Then we headed down a ramp to a lower level that led to the ball field. Hubby, Young Son, Nephew and I were given a banner to carry. We were to lead the group and were informed that we were to keep a steady pace and stay off the grass. The steady pace was so we could all get around the field before the National Anthem was played. Apparently there are peeps who get touchy if the National Anthem is delayed. I’m not sure why we were told so emphatically to keep off the grass. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about baseball turf can tell me why.

Before we got going, TC, the Twins’ mascot, gave me a fist bump. He did the same to Nephew and Young Son and greeted a guy in a wheelchair who was joining the group during the parade. The guy was thrilled to meet TC, but what made the event more memorable was when TC offered to push the guy around the field. Fabulous! Here’s a link to the video showing the MN Idea Open parade. (You’ll see me in my Peruvian Flute Band hat. Jeez, it was cold!)

We did our march around the field and were assured that our pace was just right. Nephew thought it was great that we were passing within feet of some of the ballplayers who were stretching at the edge of the field. (At least he knew who they were.)

After the parade, we bought something to eat and headed to our seats, where we settled in for the game. We had a spectacular view, high up behind home plate. Our seating was fortuitous for another reason. Midway through the game it began raining, but we had a roof above us so managed to stay dry.

Our view of Target Field, Minneapolis, MN, May 6, 2010.

Our view of Target Field, Minneapolis, MN, May 6, 2010.

The view of the Minneapolis skyline from Target Field, May 6, 2010.

The view of the Minneapolis skyline from Target Field, May 6, 2010.

I was impressed with how efficient the ballplayers were. The Twins played the Baltimore Orioles and both teams kept a steady pace in striking each other out. The Orioles scored two runs in an early inning and no one scored after that. Each full inning took only ten minutes for them to play.

The ginormous video board was put to good use throughout the game, showing the score, instant replays, shots of the spectators, and advertising (of course). Hubby was seriously coveting the video board, mentioning that he’d like one for the living room. Umm, about that …. Turns out that the video board (a Daktronics video board display, according to the Target Field website) is 57 feet by 101 feet and is the fourth largest in Major League Baseball. (It would flatten our house, I’m pretty sure, rather than fit in the living room.) The resolution is 1080 with 4.4 trillion (TRILLION) shades of color. (Technically, that should read “values” of color, not “shades.” Sorry, that’s the artist in me.)

A particular fan favorite on the video board that evening were views of a fowl – not a foul. A raptor (kestrel, maybe?) had taken roost on the tall yellow foul ball marking post (the one seen in the skyline picture above). Periodically, it would fly to the flagpole or swoop over the crowd in an effort to catch bugs. Each time it made a move, the crowd directly below it would cheer. At one point late in the game, the video board showed the bird all fluffed out in defense against the rain. That was some major cuteness right there.

All in all, we had a great time and were happy for the opportunity.

[Addendum – 5/12/2010: The bird that stole the show at the Twins game is, indeed, a kestrel and it has a name: Kirby the Kestrel. It’s also called the Target Field Hawk. Kirby has his own Facebook fan page and Twitter account. I’m following him on Twitter – and he’s following me back!  Kirby’s Twitter account: http://twitter.com/TargetFieldHawk.]

[Addendum – 5/12/2010, a bit later: Just read the Target Field Hawk’s Twitter bio. Turns out he’s a falcon.]

[A Slight Clarification – 5/13/2010: In mentioning to Hubby that the Target Field Hawk’s Twitter bio says that the bird is a falcon, he said that pretty much every media outlet kept saying the bird is a kestrel. Here’s the Twitter bio:

I love to perch on the right foul pole and shag flies. Don’t let the name fool you: I’m really a falcon.

In checking The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley, I see that the American Kestrel is classified as a type of falcon. So, technically, both terms are correct, but kestrel is more specific.  Thus ends today’s bird identification lesson.]

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