Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Debut Recalls Frozen '62 Twins Home Opener

 Click on above photo for larger version of the Northern gladiators, 
looking as if gathered for a photo shoot on the Alaskan tundra

There is again anticipation of another cold opener in 2013, this time at Target Field. Minnesota will take on the American League Champion Detroit Tigers, and temps hovering in the mid-30's will take away some of the joy for fans used to experiencing moderate conditions in the opening three years at the new ballpark (see all-time Minnesota home opener chart below). Assuming the weather forecasters are on target, one has to go back 51 years, back to 1962, if you're to find it's equivalent as openers go.

That game clocked in at 3:26, with 21 batters walked by both pitching staffs, including 23 strikeouts, one balk, and one batter hit by pitch. Angels closer and winner Ryne Duren (who threw three hitless, scoreless innings) referred to the conditions as "brutal;" most of the pitchers that day couldn't feel the seams on the baseball. 8,363 fans were in attendance- now THAT must have been a brutal fact for team owner Calvin Griffith to swallow! Half wonder if the penny-pinching Cal would've considered burning down the grandstand, if the extra warmth assured a bigger gate. Even if just for a day.

                                             A possibilty: Rich wanted to burn one that afternoon 
                                                 (1962 Twins Official Program and Scorecard)

The photos and archival newspaper accounts to follow bring back in focus the frigid Saturday, April 14, 1962 opener versus the California Angels (see BBRef Box), the granddaddy freeze out of all-time Twins history. With references to the new, "hot" rookie third baseman Rich Rollins (photo below), you get some idea of the discomfort at Metropolitan Stadium that day.

                                               Rollins fielding, June 8, 1962 versus White Sox


                        Plenty other Minnesota papers reported on the freeze, 
                                                      adding their own version of the ironic title... 

History of Minnesota Twins Home Opener Weather 
(chart + story available at link)

One would have to think the Twins will strongly back postponing the Monday, April 1, 2013 opener until the next day, a planned off day at the ready for rescheduling what with poor weather debuts commonplace in recent times.

It's an inconvenience to fans strongly anticipating the thrill of a new season, but when you consider the quality of baseball in the offing (even factoring in the improved amenities to boost player comfort), there is this too: it's kind of complicated to get fans to buy  & enjoy that microbrew, especially when they're gripping it with mittens.

As the old professional Herb Carneal ended his Twins broadcasts:
"So long, everybody."
Q: How cold will it be on Monday, 
Weatherman Bud?
A: Damn cold

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