Weekday mornings at 7:25am on AM 1250 KBRF, listeners are being invited to share one of their top memories of Twins baseball. It can be a favorite game they attended, viewed on TV or listened to on radio, a favorite interaction with a player or players at a function other than a game, like a winter caravan stop or a Twins Fest meeting, or perhaps an autograph experience they had. Whatever the memory, one fan each weekday morning for the next several weeks will get to share it with the radio audience. We are doing this to try to fill the void of no major league baseball at this time of the Coronavirus pandemic. I have also decided to share some of my Twins memories with you through www.craigolsonsports.com and would welcome you to share a Twins memory with me by sending your memory to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will then post them on the website for all to read. I’m going to start with my first trip to a Twins game.
On Thursday, July 18, 1963 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington I attended my first major league baseball game. It was an afternoon game and the Twins were hosting the powerhouse New York Yankees of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and company. On that particular day, none of them were in the starting lineup, due to injury, illness, rest, or in Ford’s case, his turn in the pitching rotation didn’t fall on that day. Only Berra made an appearance as a pinch-hitter and he struck out.
My Mom, Dad, brother and I went from our home in Brainerd to Elk River on Wednesday and stayed overnight at a motel just off highway 10. I remember quite vividly playing catch outside the motel room that evening and being very excited at the prospect of seeing my first Twins game the next day. I was 8 years old and just beginning what has been a wonderful, lifelong love affair with our National Pastime.
The next day we got to the Old Met plenty early. Pulling into the parking lot and viewing the multi-colored panels on the outside of the stadium was very exciting, but when we actually entered the stadium and the field came into view as we worked our way to our seats, it was breathtaking. I couldn’t believe how big it was, how green the grass was, how dark the dirt was, the smell of the field and the smell of the hot dogs cooking. It was quite a sight for a young boy to take in. The grounds crew was watering down the dirt around the infield and chalking the batters’ box and the baselines meticulously. My brother and I did the same in our backyard, which was mostly dirt due to many days of ball playing, but these guys took it to another level! I don’t know that my Mom appreciated our using her flour for our batters’ box, but we never got in trouble for it.
As the grounds crew finished up their duties the players were warming up on the sidelines, some were running sprints in the outfield and the starting pitchers, Camilo Pascual for the Twins and Ralph Terry for the Yankees, were warming up in their respective bullpens. It was at this time I got my first autograph. Dick Stigman, who was from Nimrod, Minnesota, was a pitcher on that Twins team. He was doing his running from center field to the first base area. He went back and forth several times, running from the outfield and then walking back and repeating the process. After he had done it a few times I decided to try to get him to sign my program. I found his number and name on the roster printed in the program and hollered “Dick” as he approached first base. He looked at me holding up my program and held up one finger indicating he had one more sprint to run. When he came back he headed right over to the stands and signed my program. As he was making his way over to the stands several other kids followed my lead and came down for his autograph. To his credit, he signed them all … with my pencil! Needless to say, he had a fan for life. Little did I know at the time that I would one day get to interview him on the radio and mention that experience to him and tell him how he made a little boys day!
As for the game, it was a 9-3 Twins win. I remember some things pretty clearly, like my brother imploring Bobby Richardson to drop a pop up … and he did. That error led to the first run of the game when Jimmie Hall scored on a single by Don Mincher. I remember the error, but thanks to www.baseballreference.com, which has every box score from every game available to fans, I can see the running play-by-play (https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN196307180.shtml) which really helps refresh the memory of that day 57 years ago! I also remember that the weather was threatening as the game went on and we were just hoping that the rain would hold off. The Twins were holding a slim 4-3 lead when they came to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning. Zoilo Versalles, who would win the AL MVP Award in 1965, opened the inning with a walk and then Rich Rollins slammed a two-run homer to give the Twins some breathing room. Rollins added a 3-run double in the eighth and the Twins were able to cruise to victory from there. I remember rain starting to fall lightly as the Yankees batted in the ninth and the skies getting even darker. I remember the lights had been turned on earlier because of the impending storm. I remember Bill Dailey striking out the final Yankee batter, Harry Bright (thanks Baseball Reference) to end the game and the skies opening up with a heavy rain at that moment. We had seen a Twins Victory! But our day wasn’t over.
My folks had a 1950 Black Buick with the big rounded front end. As we were navigating our way out of the Metropolitan Stadium parking lot a man in a Volkswagen Bug in front of us began waving a white handkerchief out of the drivers’ side window. My Dad, wondered if he was having some sort of trouble and got out to see if he could be of assistance. When he came back, shaking his head, we asked what was wrong. His answer was, the driver asked him if he could please stop bumping into his back bumper! My Dad hadn’t even realized he was nudging that Volkswagen. A great memory from start to finish for our family!!
Please send me an e-mail with your favorite Twins memory so I can share it with our viewers. email@example.com