My boys were 6 and 8 years old the day they walked out onto the platform that led down into the field. They looked at the long row of steps beneath them, then looked toward the field.
Both their jaws dropped. Their eyes grew.
"Wooooow," they said in unison.
It was their first Twins baseball game at the Metrodome.
They had Dome dogs, nachos, peanuts and pop. They came home with a giant blow-up bat and a foamy finger. Dirty faces, dirty shirts and new hats. And two little boys who had liked watching baseball with Daddy on TV had fallen in love with the Twins and the Dome.
A few months ago, I was chatting with Dick Bremer and told him a funny story about my boys’ first game. They loved the field, the color, the constant action…but a few minutes into the game they both got restless and started looking around. They twisted and turned, until it became apparent something was wrong.
Finally, Nick, the older of the two, turned and looked at his dad.
"Where’s Dick and Bert?" he asked. "Why can’t we hear them?"
They were slightly disgruntled by the explanation, but learned to love the Dome and consider it their own. The following year, my husband bought a 16-game ticket package for three seats. We both thought it was a great way for him to connect with his boys. It wasn’t unusual for me to pull them out of school an hour or two early so they could attend the game about once a week that year during the baseball season. They were both great students, and the time spent with their dad and enjoying time together was worth it. On those nights, my daughter Maggie and I would do our own thing.
Now and then we grabbed extra tickets and Maggie and I went with the men. One time, Eric couldn’t take them, so I asked my father-in-law, who lives north of the cities and is not much of a baseball fan, to bring them. I thought it would be good for the three of them. The boys enjoyed showing Grandpa around "their" Dome and explaining the game to him. Another time, we purchased an extra ticket for my dad, and I have great photos of all four of them together – decked out in Twins gear, arms raised in excitement, cotton candy and foamy finger along side. Both are great memories, not only for the boys, but for us.
Saturday, Matt, who is almost 17, had to work. Nick, almost 19, stopped by the house for the first time since leaving for college. I reminded them it was the second-to-last game in the Dome, but neither seemed to find it important. Somewhere along the way, their love for Twins baseball was overshadowed by girls and jobs and girls and cars and girls, but I expect them to talk to their own kids someday about the sights and sounds of the Twins in the Dome.
They didn’t care much Saturday, but Eric and I watched the game with a constant flow of memories and stories between us.
I’ll miss you, Metrodome. I remember my own first trip there. I remember my last baseball game there. I like Vikings football, but prefer it on TV, so I may never be back.
There are a million memories I can relate to that field. The I day I met my husband-to-be’s parents there, the two World Series, games we attended, the day my boys were interviewed by a Twin Cities TV station just because they had a bunch of autographs…It’s hard to let you go, Metrodome.
The fluffy ceiling, the rows of concrete steps, the brilliant green of the field, the hustle and bustle of a crowd all their to root on a team – a common purpose of 40,000 people.
To the Dome…good-bye, so long, farewell. And thanks for the memories.
And as for today…Go Twinkies!