In my book, there's no better way to let go of stress from the work week than by taking in a baseball game. This week was no exception. Not only did Curveball and myself get to enjoy a great game, but we also also enjoyed the pregame activities.
We were anxious to arrive for Friday's game earlier than we normally do. Curveball was planning to snag a few autographs from '87 players. We made it to the plaza about 4:45--45 minutes before the autograph stations even opened! No big surprise--the lines at the 4 autograph stations were already growing long. I let Curveball join the ranks of the autograph seekers while I roamed the plaza.
I'm the type that's always ready to get to the game early and soak up the atmosphere. Last night I was anxious to see the pregame festivities celebrating the '87 season. As I roamed the plaza, I caught sight of a few '87 players making their way to the autograph stations (with security folks by their sides). The people watching was pretty good. It's amazing the things people will bring to have players sign. The most interesting thing I saw was a child's rocking horse.
I also was able to make it through the gate with each of our tickets (2 separate trips) to get the pack of baseball cards of the '87 team. With that done, I decided I might as well head into the stadium and watch the pregame action.
Our seats were located in the upper club section just slightly to the right of homeplate (section 224). Not bad. The field was decorated with special insignia for the '87 World Series. The jumbotron was playing highlights of the '87 season. Two guys sitting a few seats down from me were enjoying the highlights and quizzing each other on '87 trivia.
Just after the autograph stations closed at 6:30, the '87 players started making their way to the field. It was interesting watching as old teammates/friends greeted each other with slaps on the back and hugs. This team shared something special together...a life-defining event. And as the players themselves have said, the fans were a part of that event as well.
Once the players were gathered, top plays from the '87 season were played chronologically...and with each play, another '87 player was introduced. I love this stuff. I'm the fan typically standing up and yelling. Sometimes I get goosebumps as well. It was great to see Gaetti, Viola, Herbie, Bruno...all those guys take the field.
Something special was saved for the end. Jeff Reardon, the closing (and winning) pitcher of the '87 World Series (every bit as good as Nathan), was the last Twins player to be introduced. When Reardon was introduced, much of the crowd stood to welcome him with loud applause.
The fans were trying to send Reardon a message. "Hey, we know it's been rough, but we're still here for you." Reardon has seen hard times these past few years--one of his 3 kids died of a drug overdose. Life seemed to fall apart for Reardon following this tragedy and slowly, he is getting his life back on track. Reardon has started a foundation, in his son's name, to help other kids overcome drug problems.
Reardon was joined by his family on the field. His fellow '87 teammates presented a check to Reardon for that foundation in the amount of $100,000 (the money was raised from the sale of the '87 bobbleheads). Man, it was a great thing to see.
The festivities were over and the game began...with the memory that this little team that no one thought could win it all did just that...20 years ago.