Monday, January 31, 2011

TwinsFest: A Three Day Adventure

It was a long but fun weekend at the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN. There were some adventures along the way, the first Twins "Tweet and Greet," and a very cold day spent outside in a line.

Friday, Day 1: The nightmare hunt for Thome's autograph

Nightmare is the only word that I can used to describe my experience on Friday afternoon and evening. I arrived at the National Sports Center complex around 2:30 PM. Jim Thome was having an autograph signing starting at 5:45 PM. I figured that I would be able to get there early enough to get in line, read a little of my book, and eventually get an autograph from the future Hall-of-Famer. I was mistaken on the ease of getting the autograph.
The line that I faced on Friday afternoon
A problem never occurred to me in my calculations. Joe Mauer was also signing in the same building right before Thome. In the picture above you can see how very far I was away from the Schwan Center off in the distance. The doors opened at 4 PM and they let the line start to trickle in to get Mauer's autograph. By 4:20 PM I was 10-15 feet from the entrance to the building. That is where the line stalled. We were told that the building was at the capacity that the fire code allowed. They would let more people in as people exited. This was not true and from 4:20 to 6:00 PM I didn't move in line.

The line behind me was even longer than in front of me
Fans got frustrated and left the line. People in line were yelling at Twins employees. When Dave St. Peter looked out the window he got thumbs down signs from the people in line. I even heard people talking about going to flip over a car and lighting it on fire to stay warm (this may or may not have been myself saying this). The nice thing was I was able to make some friends in the line. Another Twins blogger with ties to North Dakota was next to me (Ben Brewster writes the Twins Talk blog). You get close to the people you are standing next to for four hours.
Jim Thome signing autographs
At 6:15 PM, my prayers were answered and I was finally let into the Schwan Center to escape the freezing cold. My feet were numb but I was eager in anticipation of getting a future Hall-of-Famer's autograph. After my wait in line I was ready to explore the rest of TwinsFest. I headed to the Sports Hall and explored all that TwinsFest had to offer. But for the most part I was trying to regain feeling in most of my appendages.

Day 1 Autographs: Jim Thome, Ben Revere, and Corey Koskie

Saturday, Day 2: Blogger Connections

I stayed as far away from the Schwan Center as possible on Saturday. I was not going to relive my nightmare from the day before.
Giant Get Well Card for Harmon Killebrew

Day 2 was all about making connections with other Twins bloggers. This was the first real time that I got to put faces with some of the people I have followed as I continue to make my mark as a Twins blogger. The one person that I was able to find pretty easy was Seth Stohs (SethSpeaks.net). And I say easy because he is the only other blogger that has my phone number. The next blogger that I met in the company of Seth was Jack Steal (Fanatic Jack Talks Twins). Andrew Bryz-Gornia (Off the Mark) was working at both Day 1 and Day 2 of TwinsFest. I was able to successfully pick him out of the throngs of other Twins employees and introduce myself. While waiting in an autograph line I was approached by Topper Anton (Curve for a Strike). There were also female personalities in the Twins blogging community that I met such as Betsey (For the Love of the Game) and you can follow Karlee Kanz on Twitter.

One of the funniest moments of the day might have been when Senator Al Franken was being interviewed by 1500 ESPN radio and he accidentally said, "I hate the Twins." He meant to say that he hated the Yankees and the Mets but the Twins slipped out.

Throughout all of this I was able to get a few autographs from some of the young stars that I have featured on my top prospect list (Minnesota Twins Top Prospects 1-10). I also snagged some pictures with current Twins player (Denard Span) and one huge prospect (Kyle Gibson).

The Twins blogging gang listed above and others went out to eat to wind down after a long day at TwinsFest. At this gathering I was able to meet John Bonnes (Twins Geek) and Nick Nelson (Nick's Twins Blog) of the TwinsCentric Crew. Overall, it was a very festive evening.

Day 2 Autographs: Kyle Gibson, Joe Benson, Aaron Hicks
Day 2 Photos: Denard Span, Kyle Gibson, TC

Sunday, Day 3: Filling in the missing pieces

The final day of TwinsFest 2011 was one filled of lots of first for myself. I talked to Twins General Manager Bill Smith for the first time, I took part in my first "Tweet and Greet" experience, and I got a picture with a member of the Hall-of-Fame.

Bill Smith and myself at TwinsFest
Twins General Manager Bill Smith had been out and about for most of the weekend. I had seen him numerous times but I never mustered up the courage to go up and talk to him. Today I did and was able to have a five minute conversation with the GM. I kept the conversation light and didn't ask any tough questions of him. He seemed excited to get down to Florida for Spring Training and to get the season started.

I waited in line to get a picture with Twins legend Rod Carew. He seemed more outgoing this time than the previous times that I spoke to him. He was friendly and gladly shook my hand. I never got to see him play in a game but I know about the importance of the history to the game of baseball.
In the presence of Rod Carew 

The special experience of the day was a Twitter event put on by the Twins organization. This was a really exciting event to take part in and I will devote an entire post to this event later this week. It was the first time the Twins have tried something like this and it was a fun interactive experience with Twins players Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span, and Drew Butera. There are lots of funny stories to tell from this event.

Day 3 Photos: Rod Carew, Bill Smith, Glen Perkins, Drew Butera

Overall it was a fun weekend, full of lots of different Twins activities. It was a nice break from a winter and a good reminder that spring is right around the corner.

1 comment:

JimCrikket said...

I'm glad you had such a good time (well, Sat and Sun anyway). I've only been able to "put faces with names" at one blogger event a couple of years ago and that was before we started Knuckleballs, but even then it was easy to see there's a lot of character (and a lot of characters") among the Twins blogging community.