Blue Wahoos' Chris Garagiola part of team's special connections with Twins

While visiting Target Field on vacation, broadcaster has cameo on Twins broadcast

Blue Wahoos broadcaster Chris Garagiola, shown with Pro Football Hall of Fame member Derrick Brooks, a Pensacola native, co-investor with Blue Wahoos during his June visit, was able to join the Twins' broadcast for a mid-September game at Target Field, adding to the Wahoos' connections this season. (Daniel Venn)

By Bill Vilona, Senior Writer / Pensacola Blue Wahoos | October 4, 2019 4:41 PM

The Blue Wahoos' connections this season with the Minnesota Twins extended beyond the field.

When Chris Garagiola, who finished his first season as the voice of the Blue Wahoos, took a planned trip to Minneapolis in mid-September, it led to being part of the Twins' radio broadcast one night.

He joined with Kris Atteberry on the Pregame Lineup Card show that airs on the Twins' Treasure Island Baseball Network. The Twins' network includes 90 stations in five different states.

A rain delay that night, prior to the game against Washington Nationals, enabled Garagiola to discuss the Blue Wahoos, the team's seven players in 2019 who went from Pensacola to the Twins, along with the game experience at Blue Wahoos Stadium. It further expanded awareness about the Blue Wahoos brand and the team's first-year affiliation with the Twins to a wide region of listeners.

"It was one of the best Q and A's (questions and answers) I have been able to do. It was a lot of fun," Garagiola said. "I think we live in baseball at a time when it's sort of prospect-crazy.

"Everyone is so curious and so fascinated by that element. People are wondering who are top prospects, which teams have the most prospects?

"The Blue Wahoos have a lot of players in that farm system. So just to let Twins' fans in the region know some of the names and how they did, I hope they could appreciate it. I was grateful to do it."

Garagiola had planned the trip in July as a chance to see the Twins' Target Field for the first time and visit with his brother-in-law, who works in the Nationals' front office.

When Twins' general manager Thad Levine traveled to Pensacola for a series in July, Garagiola mentioned of his trip to Minneapolis to take in the games. Levine said for Garagiola to send an email shortly before his arrival and he would arrange a meeting with Twins' lead broadcasters Cory Provus and Dan Gladden, the latter a former player on two Twins' World Series championship teams.

"That was a lot to offer. It was so gracious. I didn't know what to expect," Garagiola said. "But I think as everyone learned this season with our relationship (with Twins) this season, they have been incredibly kind and gracious people."

When he walked into both of the team merchandise stores at Target Field, Garagiola noticed Blue Wahoos hats and jerseys displayed. The stadium and the adjacent arena, The Target Center, home of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, are naming rights acquired by Target, the nation's eighth largest retailer, which has its headquarters in Minneapolis.

Target and Best Buy, are two of the nation's Fortune 500 corporations based in Minneapolis.-St. Paul .

"It was cool to see the Blue Wahoos presence," he said. "Target Field is a beautiful park. The layout of it, the design, it's very clean, it has a classic feel.

"When you walk around it's spacious, it's clean. You could feel the buzz of that city surrounding that team."

An astonishing seven players: Luis Arraez, Randy Dobnak, Cody Stashak, Brusdar Graterol, Devin Smeltzer, Jorge Alcala and Sean Poppen made the major league debut with the Twins in 2019 after spending part or most of their season with the Blue Wahoos.

Five of those players, led by Arraez, the Twins' top hitter, along with pitchers Dobnak, Stashak, Graterol and Smeltzer, were all part of the Twins' post-season roster that began Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday against the New York Yankees.

It was all part of the variety of memories created in 2019 with the Blue Wahoos' new affiliation.

"You look at the entirety of year one of this relationship between the Wahoos and the Twins and it's easy to root for them." Garagiola said. "And from what I've heard, they are happy with us."

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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