TWINSFEST 2017 - Jan. 27-29
TwinsFest, one of the largest team-run fan festivals in professional sports, is an annual fundraiser for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund. Since its inception in 1989, TwinsFest has raised more than $3.6 million for programs and organizations supported by the Twins Community Fund.
Twins fans - be sure to check out the Red Wings booth at TwinsFest 2017. We have authentic game-worn jerseys with photo and COA including Buxton, Sano, Kepler, Polanco, Palka, Garver, Plouffe (rehab), Chargois, Duffey, Rosario, Vargas and more, player photos and card sets, New Era on-field caps, and much more. Look for us on the Club level of Target Field, in the Legends Club near the Carew Atrium.
THURSDAY JAN. 26
After loyal friend of the Wings Dan "Dante (MN)" Lynd got us to the Greater Rochester International Airport, our friends at United Airlines took over from there. John was running the United check-in counter this morning, and from baggage check to boarding we had an on-time or early arrival experience all the way to Minneapolis.
Was that the smell of onions? Early in the morning? A member of our group enjoyed a breakfast sandwich slathered in them, a choice made less curious when it was revealed that he hails from nearby Elba, NY - onion capital of the world. Nothing curious about the lunch time choice at Chicago's O'Hare International: a Vienna Beef Chicago-style hot dog (hold the onions), a colorful "through the garden" experience with bright green relish, sport peppers, tomato slices, pickles, and bright yellow mustard.(Ketchup? Never, on a true Chicago dog).
Interesting reading in the January issue of Hemispheres, United's on-board and online magazine. The current issue features a message from United CEO Oscar Munoz about the new United Beat customer satisfaction survey being rolled out. The issue also includes features on legendary TV producer Norman Lear, NBA star Lebron James, and the new foodie trend "golden lattes" - would you believe it's a turmeric coffee alternative? Makes our own co-worker Will Rumbold seem prophetic, as he has been touting the health benefits of turmeric for a couple years now; knowing our Wilbur, he's also invested heavily in the turmeric futures market.
In a touch of sad irony, we head to Minneapolis a day after the passing of TV icon Mary Tyler Moore on Wednesday. Her ground-breaking sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," set at a Minneapolis TV station, was the first to feature a single woman - rather than a divorced or widowed woman.. "Who could turn the world on with her smile? Who could take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?" It was you, MTM - and we'll be stopping by the Nick at Nite statue in Nicollet Mall, honoring MTM's Mary Richards character tossing her hat in the air from the show's opening.
And we'd be remiss in not mentioning it's our first visit to the Twin Cities since the passing of Prince in April. Lucky enough to have seen The Purple Genius on his Piano and Microphone Tour in Toronto in late March; seeing the news reports of his death unfold during our day game April 21, was a surreal and unforgettable experience. Paisley Park, the workplace and home of Prince, offers tours and the chance to feel the power and spirit of a true musical genius and pop culture icon. Did you know: Prince was the first artist to have a number one single, album, and film when "Purple Rain" came out? Did you know he played guitar on the Madonna smash hit "Like A Prayer," in an uncredited role? And that he played more than 20 instruments? You do now.
TwinsFest weekend kicked off with the Diamond Awards on Thursday night; the Diamond Awards event benefits research, education, and care in brain, nerve, and muscle disorders at the University of Minnesota. Several former Red Wings were among those honored Thursday, including Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, and Max Kepler. Future Wings OF Zach Granite and LHP Stephen Gonsalves were honored as the top minor league players in the Twins' organization for 2016. Click here for coverage at TwinsBaseball.com.
Flame-throwing Wings reliever J.T. Chargois just participated in the MLB Rookie Career Development Program; each January, top prospects come together for four days to learn about life in the big leagues. Click here to watch J.T. talk about his comeback from serious injuries to make his Wings and Twins debut in 2016.
FRIDAY JAN 27
A sunny and cold Minneapolis day, that started with an amazing breakfast buffet at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown Minneapolis. Can't say enough about the comfort, location (a block from the light rail system and one stop away from Target Field).
While setting up our booth, we chatted with our traditional first day visitor Clyde Doepner, Twins historian. Clyde is a rock and roll history autograph collector, and he told us an amazing story from his days as a teacher - the time he booked a young local band for a high school dance, and that band included Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Prince. Speaking of the departed and deeply missed music legend, we had the chance to take the VIP tour at Paisley Park Thursday night. It was an emotional, joyous event, with our awesome tour guide Minka providing personal insights and making it a memorable experience for our small group.
Seen on the scene: pitcher Tyler Duffey, posing for fans in the Twins clubhouse then hustling off to sign at the Twins Wives Booth...Julie Glynn, lovely wife of former Wings skipper and current Twins coach Gene, stopping by to say hi to the Wings staff...pitcher Ryan O'Rourke, getting a quick workout in down in the weight room then later stopping by our booth to sign for fans and cause a mini-sensation, as Ryan merch flew off the table. Ryan also posed for a couple of photos wearing a super hot 2017 giveaway item - we can't show you the pics just yet, but stay tuned for a big announcement in February.
The Minnesota Twins announced today that former Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer and former General Manager Andy MacPhail have been elected to the club's Hall of Fame. Cuddyer and MacPhail will become the 29th and 30th members of the Twins Hall of Fame when they are inducted during separate on-field pre-game ceremonies scheduled for Hall of Fame Weekend, August 19-20 when the Twins host the Arizona Diamondbacks at Target Field. In another big announcement, the Twins announced tonight at TwinsFest that former Twins Manager and former Wing (1976) Tom Kelly will have a statue unveiled in his honor outside of Target Field during the upcoming 2017 major league season. The specific installation date and location will be announced shortly.
SATURDAY JAN. 28
Like Christopher Columbus discovering a new land, a member of our crew discovered a warm and fast route from Target Field back to the Embassy Suites Downtown Minneapolis after TwinsFest Friday night - via the Skyway, routing us in and through Target Center and directly into the Embassy Suites' second floor. An easy walk, and easy on our ground transportation budget as well. Saturday began with another delicious breakfast, part of any guest's stay at the Embassy Suites. A sumptuous buffet, plus made to order omelets and waffles, now THAT's the way to start the day. Our morning bacon was The D** style - extra crispy, and fresh salsa adorned our bacon, cheese, spinach, and peppers omelet - they love that.
The same staffer who came up clutch with the Skyway tip, led the way into TwinsFest. Despite a long line of patiently waiting fans at the Skyway entrance to Target Field, our navigator used a disarming cool suave, a confident stride, TwinsFest credential, morning coffee in one hand and cell phone in the other to lead us past the throng and into the Legends Club. It's possible some fans thought we may have been high ranking team officials. We were alarmed when our new buddy Bret from Chattanooga was absent at the start of TwinsFest; his co-worker Aaron was vague about the reason, leading us to suspect that flaming shots may have been involved. The young Southern gentleman has great recovery powers, and was at full speed when he finally arrived.
We had early morning visits from hard-throwing pitching prospect Mason Melotakis and Wings catcher Mitch Garver; both stepped in front of the critical lens of our 90-Second Egg feature, watch for new episodes online in the coming weeks leading up to our Opening Day in Syracuse April 6. Mason has a chance to be an important part of the Wings' bullpen in 2017, and Mitch is a legit candidate for the Twins in the upcoming season. Mitch also tried out the top secret Opening Day giveaway, the same one Ryan O'Rourke enjoyed Friday night; Mitch begged us to make sure he gets one of his own, after stylin' and profilin' around our booth....."shantay you stay."
Seth Stohs of Twins Daily.com stopped by our booth , dropping off a couple fresh copies of the 2017 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. The book includes profiles on dozens and dozens of possible future Red Wings; check out Seth's page at TwinsDaily.com for information on ordering your copy.
Hot Saturday morning items: game-worn jerseys of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Byung Ho Park, and Max Kepler...Wings 2016 card sets and player photos...and our red road New Era fitted cap.
Seen on the Scene: New Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, wife Meghan and son Jack visited each of the Twins' minor league affiliate booths to introduce himself. He's heard a lot about the great relationship between the Wings and Twins, and is looking forward to his first visit to Rochester this season. We also had special guest appearances by former Wings manager Gene Glynn, and Twins Hall of Famer Jim Rantz; Jim was the long time farm director of Minnesota's successful minor league system...Stylish lefty Taylor Rogers, coming off a successful rookie season in the big leagues after an All-Star 2015 with the Wings...At the Twins' Wives Booth, we caught up with former Wings Glen Perkins, and new Twins Hall of Famer Michael Cuddyer. Perk and Cuddy were signing autographs for fans who made a donation to the Community Fund with a purchase of the new cookbook put together by the Twins Wives Booth ...Michael also put on an afternoon magic show for fans...Pitcher Jose Berrios broke away from his security escort to come over and greet Wings fans; Kennys Vargas and Eduardo Escobar also said hi, drawn by the sight of Rochester's Andy Fade - who has become the preferred hair stylist of many players. Andy came by our both to advise one staffer on a coiffure conflict.
How often do you find yourself lucky enough to have dinner with a Hall of Famer? For our crew, it was Saturday night, with Twins HOFer Jim Rantz and his wife Pearl, at the legendary Mancini's Char-House in St. Paul. We knew the evening would go well when our Uber driver Jamal was so interesting and engaging, that he quickly became the subject of an improvised 90-Second Egg on the way there. Once inside Mancini's, the atmosphere was electric - as if a spaceship had landed right on 7th Street, and an entire population of red-clad Vulcan Krewe had begun a takeover. That's what happens when you end up in St. Paul during the annual Winter Carnival .
Our dinner was full of fun conversations with Jim and Pearl: about former Wings and Twins, about Elvis and their upcoming trip to Memphis, all wrapped around the warm, welcoming comfort and hospitality of Pat and John Mancini and staff - in the tradition of their father Nick. We've raved about Mancini's in previous blogs, and nothing new to say - in its own way, a great compliment because the service and food never disappoint. Oh, we will add that when Pat brought out a dish of tasty cannoli for the table - compliments of the house, and certainly a reflection of Jim and Pearl's status there - the smiles on our faces grew broad in anticipation of the sweet treats. To our paesani the Mancini family, we say grazie. After dinner, The Rockin' Hollywoods took over Mancini's Vegas Room and entertained the masses; our waitress Megan continued the high level of customer service. Mutual and broad-reaching staff non-disclosure agreements bring this segment to a close.
SUNDAY JAN. 29
A bright sunshine greeted TwinsFest attendees Sunday morning. Before checking out and heading to Target Field, our staff enjoyed one last breakfast meal together with other Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown Minneapolis guests. Made-to-order omelets? Pancakes? Scrambled eggs, with or without cheese? You got it. One of our staffers even enjoyed a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. Our thanks to Don, Richard, and the whole Embassy Suites team for a wonderful downtown stay. The sunshine continued when we arrived at Target Field's Champions Club entrance, then saw Twins Hall of Famer Tony Oliva. Tony O is a moving source of light and happiness, truly loved and treasured by Twins fans and Target Field staff.
Sunday was busy on the Club level, and interest was high throughout our abbreviated schedule today. After drawing much interest all weekend, a lucky fan purchased one of the Pete Rose 1976 white Reds jerseys, signed by Pete with the "Hit King" and "4256 " inscriptions. Interested in owning one yourself? Call or visit our Frontier Field Team Store and get all the details.
But the true highlight of the day HAD to be the epic morning lip sync battle in the Champions Club, between popular pitchers Ryan O'Rourke and Trevor May. Would May's longtime music career (DJ, producer, EDM website maven) give him an advantage in any musical challenge? Would Boston boy Ryan go with a song by his musical hero Bruce Springsteen? Or perhaps a hit from Beantown boy band legends New Kids on the Block? Would either performance catapult either hurler into a new career path, as a guest on one of those ridiculous lip sync shows? With Wings season seat holders the Pierce family in the front row, the battle began, with Ryan taking the stage in black rim glasses, wild black afro wig, and....."Wannabe" by The Spice Girls? SERIOUSLY? Yup, that was Ryan's choice, and he channeled his inner Scary Spice to parade around the Champions Club stage, and even worked the front row - starting a serious clapping crowd participation scene while emoting and begging "Soooooo tell me what you want, what you really really want." What did WE really really want? A shorter version of the song would have been nice. Then, a serious Trevor took the stage, trying to reach a higher level than by his teammate. A slow intro built into Trevor's performance, with the opening verse to ...."Colors of the Wind," the Disney movie classic from "Pocahontas." After the crowd adjusted to the drama of what was before them, Trevor pulled two color streamers from his pants pockets and proceeded to act out the song, swirling and prancing around the stage. Ryan watched from the side, laughing so hard his wig almost fell off. There was no official winner of the battle, but this silly sublime "performance art" got the day off to a great start and is just another unique part of TwinsFest to experience. Click here to enjoy the performance, on the Twins' Facebook page. .
After packing up our booth and saying goodbye to our Twins affiliate neighbors (Bret - you handsome devil....) we took the light rail Blue Line to the airport and our awaiting United flight. While waiting for the O'Hare airport shuttle to our United flight home, we were rounded up and entertained by Leslie - a very charming man, a knowledgeable baseball fan, and collector of many, many colored pens displayed in his shirt pocket.
Some people like to read on flights, some like to listen to music, some folks doze, and many on United flights turn to the amazing selection of on-board TV entertainment. United Airlines partners with DIRECTV to offer a wide variety of in-flight entertainment, with all the channels you are use to enjoying at home. What you may not have seen at home: The entertaining "Big Metal Bird" series, featuring Emmy award winner Katie Nolan of Fox Sports 1. The series takes you inside the cockpit, on the tarmac, and everywhere else the United staff is on a daily basis to provide the highest level of service and most comfortable flying experience possible. Check out Katie and her adopted United Airlines family in the "Big Metal Bird" series, click here to learn more and watch.
Thank you to Venika Streeter, the behind the scenes force who helps make so much of the TwinsFest experience rewarding for fans and business partners. With Minnesota hosting the Super Bowl in 2018, TwinsFest may move up to the January 19-21 weekend - so start planning to join us at Target Field next year and hang out with current, new, old, and future Red Wings at TwinsFest - to benefit the Twins Community Fund.
Previous TwinsFest coverage:
Blogs, links to photo galleries and videos, and a time capsule treasure box of Twins and Wings things - past, present and future.
TwinsFest 2016: Logan Darnell, Bert Blyleven, Johnny Bravo, Ryan O'Rourke, Tom Kelly, Gene Glynn, and more
TwinsFest 2015: Byron Buxton, Trevor Plouffe, Gene Glynn, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, and more
TwinsFest 2013: The Rockin' Hollywoods, ELnO, Trevor May, Kyle Gibson, Drew Butera, Caleb Thielbar, Mancini's Char-House, Glen Perkins, and more
TwinsFest 2012: Dave Stewart, Rene Tosoni, Bobby Hull, Brian Dozier, Fergie Jenkins, Neil Dynamite and the Heartlights, and more
TwinsFest 2011: Pat Neshek, Robin Yount, St. Paul Winter Carnival Vulcan Krewe, Matt Tolbert, and more
TwinsFest 2010: Denard Span, Drew Butera, Trevor Plouffe, Aaron Hicks, Rob Delaney, Stan Cliburn, Target Field tour, and more
TwinsFest 2009: Bobby Korecky, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Phillip Wells "The Kirby Puckett of the Kitchen," Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing and Brian Buscher, and more