Opening Day for the Twins

LivanHernandez.jpgToday is the Opening Day for the 2008 version of the Minnesota Twins. The team takes on the Angels of Los Anaheimento at 6:05 pm in the Dome.

There are many concerns about the Twins’ prospects this year with the departure of the talented and popular Johann Santana and Torii Hunter, as well as off-season moves by some of the other clubs in the division. Sports Illustrated predicted that they’d finish last in the AL Central.

I’m more optimistic. I caught one of their games last week at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Meyers. It was the one against the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays where opening day pitcher Livan Hernandez booted the ball to starting first baseman Justin Morneau. Although there were a few rough spots in the line-up at times, there was also some solid hitting, particularly in the middle, that gave me hope that things could go better for the home team than expected.

Baseball has been much on my mind lately. For my “beach” reading, I greatly enjoyed “Slouching Toward Fargo”, by Neal Karlen. It tells the tale of the St. Paul Saints, Mike Veeck, Bill Murray and the rest of that cast of characters, who succeeded in baseball, and business, by preaching that “Fun is Good”.

In the book, New Yorker writer Roger Angell was quoted as saying “Baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.”

Forever young, and always with hope.


  1. Lance Heisler said:

    Hey Ross! Sounds like fun. I am envious. I have always wanted to see a spring training game in Fla. You and my son are the two people on the planet who predict good things for the twins. I have asked the metrodome folks to set up a special two person section, just for you. I’ll keep you posted.

    March 31, 2008
  2. Ross Currier said:

    Lance –

    You GOTTA go. The scale of the ballpark is…human. We were in the very last row, looking over Joe Mauer’s shoulder…and yet we could still recognize the players’ faces as they came up to the plate. It was really a great experience.

    Maybe me and your son will be sharing that last, post-rally, laugh…in that special section for the ever-hopeful.

    – Ross

    March 31, 2008
  3. Jerry Bilek said:

    hardly feels like opening day with this snow. Maybe staying in the dome is a good idea for the twins.

    I’ll be selling books at the dome this Friday as we take the monkey on the road. Tom Swift’s new book about Charles Bender, the first Minnesotan in the Hall of Fame is a great read if you like baseball books:
    Tom will read from the book April 10, snow or shine:

    March 31, 2008
  4. Ross Currier said:

    …and where did I get that used copy of “Slouching Toward Fargo”?

    I sure do appreciate those thoughtful suggestions that one can find in the windows of Downtown Northfield…

    March 31, 2008
  5. Curt Benson said:

    Hey, howabout those Twins? Gomez was awesome last night.

    Ross, we share some common ground here. We saw a spring training game at Tuscon Electric Stadium last week. (White Sox vs. KC Royals.) The stadium was great. The chow (Mexican food) was tasty.

    Also, I gave my teenage daughter (a big baseball fan) Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Wait ‘Till Next Year” for Xmas last year. It’s Goodwin’s memoir of growing up in post war Brooklyn, focusing on her and her father’s love for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I haven’t read it yet. My daughter said it was very good. The book was purchased at “Monkey See, Monkey Read”.

    April 1, 2008
  6. Ross Currier said:

    Yeah, Gomez had me almost saying “Johann who?”. It’s just one down and 161 to go but it fueled my hope that the Twins are going to win more than a few ballgames this year.

    Thanks for the reading tip. I’ll have to follow up with the Head Monkey.

    April 1, 2008
  7. Jerry Bilek said:

    It just so happens I have another copy of Goodwin’s memoir. Due to a positive local review and perceived increase in customer demand the price has jumped like a barrel of crude to more than $100.00. While this copy is not signed by the author it does have the signature of the owner of a primate infested bookstore.

    April 1, 2008
  8. Curt Benson said:

    I think I know a 15 year old girl who might be willing to part with her Goodwin book for only $99. Act now!

    April 1, 2008
  9. Jerry Bilek said:

    It seems as though competition has pushed the price of Ms. Goodwin’s memoir down like shares of Bear Stearns stock. Don’t expect a Fed bailout here. Bernanke does not return my phone calls. $7.00 and that’s my final offer.

    April 1, 2008
  10. Curt Benson said:

    Jerry, here’s where the free market system gets really ugly.

    For only $6.00, I will email anyone a brief synopsis of “Wait ‘Till Next Year” by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

    April 1, 2008
  11. Tom Swift said:

    If you want to read about the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s I actually recommend “The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn over the Goodwin book. But that’s just me. Ross mentioned Roger Angell. “Game Time: A Baseball Companion” is a terrific collection of his work through the years. He’s the master.

    April 1, 2008
  12. Re baseball books, may I recommend the 1972 best-seller “The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn? I worked as Roger’s research assistant for eight years, 1986-1994 in New York. The term “boys of summer” is now used for all baseball players and came from Dylan Thomas: “I see the boys of summer in their ruin/Lay the gold tithings barren,/Setting no store by harvest, freeze the soils.” The book is in two parts, Roger’s description of growing up enamored of the Brooklyn Dodgers (“Lives rooted in weary brownstones were lit up by the gods at play nearby,” Roger once wrote), his years working as a sportswriter for the Herald Tribune during the Jackie Robinson era and then going to see what had become of members of the Ebbets Field Dodger teams.
    I also would recommend a book I helped research when I was working for Roger, “The Era: 1947-57, When the Yankees, the Giants and the Dodgers Ruled the World” (1993). Yes, I know, Twins fans may demur here. But the ballplayers I spoke with on the phone were so unfailingly forthcoming and genuinely pleased to relive those days: Phil Rizzuto, Tommy Henrich, Pee Wee Reese, Al Gionfriddo, Ralph Branca, Charlie Silvera, Jerry Coleman, Wesley Westrum, Don Mueller, Whitey Lockman, Johnny Sain. And we went to talk with Joe Garagiola, Mel Allen (announcer), Bobby Brown and Bobby Thomson who hit what was called the “Shot Heard Round the World.” For another book on pitching (“The Head Game”) we met Yogi Berra for lunch at a restaurant near his house in New Jersey and I got to speak on the phone to Don Drysdale, shortly before his untimely death. I never thought I would be talking to Bruce Sutter (a recent Hall of Famer) about a split-fingered fast ball, but I did.
    During these years when I would come to Northfield to visit my parents and brother, I would sometimes bring with me some of Roger’s books for Dick Waters at “As Time Goes By” bookstore, because he was such a fan. Some of those books are still in the store, now “Monkey See, Monkey Read.”
    So I can assure you that the signature in “Pete Rose: My Story” is authentic. It is Roger Kahn’s signature, because he wrote the story with Pete (1989). I also have Pete Rose’s signature in my own copy of the book. He signed it, “Pete Rose, Hit King.” I interviewed Pete’s mother and sister and others for that one. It was a dramatic time in Pete’s life, as you may remember. There is also a copy of “Games We Used to Play” (1992) at “Monkey See, Monkey Read,” a collection of Roger’s magazine pieces. You will see my name in these books in the acknowledgments, under my former name Susan Kilgour.
    Ah, what memories the start of the baseball season brings back! Go, Twins! (unless they are playing against the Yankees—sorry, I retain that bias from my years in New York).

    April 1, 2008
  13. Well, Tom, I did not read your comment #11 before I made mine, but I am glad you, too, recommend “The Boys of Summer.” I do believe you selected the wrong Roger as “the master.” (But I am biased, having worked for Roger Kahn.) Sports Illustrated once listed the best sports (not just baseball) books of all time and chose “The Boys of Summer” as the second best (I have forgotten what no. 1 was, but it was not by Roger Angell).
    Good luck with your new book!

    April 1, 2008
  14. I went to Tom Swift’s book signing at River City Books today—congratulations, Tom, on “Chief Bender’s Burden” from the University of Nebraska Press. It is quite an accomplishment and represents many years of research. I look forward to reading about the Hall of Fame pitcher, nicknamed “Chief” because of his Native American ancestry. Tom will be doing another book signing at “Monkey See, Monkey Read.” Nice to see such cross-promotion downtown.

    April 5, 2008
  15. Tom Swift said:

    Thanks much, Susan, for coming to the reading and for the support. I am grateful. The event was a great opportunity for me (thank you, RCB). I especially appreciated the discussion that was started by the terrific questions you and others asked. Looking forward to Thursday!

    By the way, I did not intend to rank one Roger over the other. Both are terrific writers. Must have been a wonderful experience to work with Mr. Kahn.

    April 7, 2008

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