Bridesmaid Revisited: Metrodome Memory Series Part 4
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby"
The Metrodome holds the distinction of being the lone stadium in the world to host two World Series, a Super Bowl, the Final Four, an All Star game and the Special Olympics -- a claim making the stadium a uniquely American place. The Twins' have long furthered said nationalism via their ball-capped tributes to soldiers with their yearly Armed Services Appreciation Day
In today's Part 4 of our season-long look at the Twins final year in the stadium, we give voice to a few of those American soldiers whose bravery and mettle afford us the opportunity to enjoy our pastime. Please enjoy the Metrodome recollections of Minnesota natives, and longtime Twins fans, Captain Paul Tanghe and Captain Thomas O'Keefe. Both are among the approximately 62,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Afghanistan.
From Captain Tanghe
I am terrible at sports. The youngest brother of five athletes, family tradition dragged me through seasons of football, basketball, and baseball growing up, but I harbor no illusions that
my athletic accomplishments went any further than my brothers' coattails.
Nor do I even enjoy following sports. Recently, a prospective future boss in Kandahar asked me whether I liked the Vikings- I stammered a non-committal response and hoped it wouldn't count against me. I like the narrative of the Twins- the hometown team that is above average, but not ostentatious like the Yankees or Red Sox- but I can't say that I've ever torn open a newspaper to check a box-score. Ditto the Wolves and Wild.
Despite my ambivalence to sports in general, I must admit a certain pride in the Metrodome and the teams that call it home. The Metrodome is distinctively ours- a downtown anchor in gray concrete and blue railings and soaring white sails overhead, complete with doors that make your body sail when you pass through them. That same white clerestory was the backdrop for 1987 and 1991, when the Twins showed the world how Minnesota-nice can also be the world's best. A public arena for high performance, where I stood on sidelines watching my high school football team compete for state titles. Senior year, my coach even worked me in on special teams, so that like my brothers, I could taste a moment of what it
was like to play at the top, on that harsh green turf under a perpetually white sky. Regardless of one's feelings towards sports, the Metrodome is Minnesota's athletic pantheon.
Shortly before deploying to Afghanistan last fall, I watched the Colorado Rockies play in Coors Field. I'm still no great fan of baseball, but it was a charmed evening- aesthetically, the stadium itself felt like art, the warm late summer sun setting beyond left field, enjoying good food and drinks with some friends as we watched a game whose outcome we didn't really care about. In short, it was the nicest baseball game I've ever watched- yet even for a non-sports fan, I knew it wasn't my team. Realizing this, feeling this, on my way into the stadium I stopped at a hat store and bought a Twins hat in a nod to my hometown.
At the game, a dozen other people either commented on my hat or were wearing their own Twins apparel- like refugees in exile, we recognized each other for mutual loyalty to our hometown and its team.
Whatever its drawbacks, the Metrodome gave a singular locale for our teams that produced that kind of loyalty which even a non-fan like me feels. After I leave Afghanistan, I look forward to enjoying the next evolution of our baseball stadium- hopefully a place that like the Metrodome, is uniquely Minnesotan, a font of state-wide athletic pride, and a nice place to spend a summer night where everyone wears a Twins hat.
From Captain O'Keefe
Being a Minnesota Twins fan, whenever I hear the year 1987 or 1991 mentioned, the first thing I associate with those years are that the Twins won the World Series. One of my great memories of the Metrodome occurred in 1991.
The Twins were starting their playoff journey and had an early afternoon playoff game in the
American League Divisional Series at the Dome. Seeing as how I was only a fifth grader and school was in session, I was not expecting to catch the game. However, I didn't count on the surprise my dad had for my brother and I the night before the game. "I've got two tickets to the game tomorrow - do you two want to go?" he asked. My reaction was similar to the first time I was told about the concept of Halloween when I was a small child - sounded too good to be true. It just didn't add up. Sure, my brother was in high school, but what adult was going to supervise us? Are my parents honestly going to let me skip school to go watch a baseball game!?!
I think the best part was my dad fabricating a doctor's appointment for both of us to excuse us from school. Obviously he realized that this was one of those very rare occasions that all the stops needed to be pulled out for. There was one small catch - as I studied the design of the ticket I noticed that it said "OBSVU" in large letters. I had no idea what that meant until we got to our seats and noticed a huge post right in front of our seats. My brother and I looked at each other: "Obstructed View." It didn't really matter, the excitement inside the Dome during that game was electric. To be honest, I don't remember whether they won or lost that game, but it was one of the great Metrodome memories that I will never forget.
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