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TwinsFest 2013 coverage

January 25, 2013

TwinsFest 2013 coverage presented by
United Airlines -
The Hotel Minneapolis, Autograph Collection -

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TWINSFEST 2013 - Jan. 24-27
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.

The Red Wings staff fly United Airlines from Rochester to Minneapolis, and stay at The Hotel Minneapolis in downtown Minneapolis.

TwinsFest weekend opens with the Eighth Annual Diamond Awards Event Thurs., January 24 at Target Field. The Diamond Awards event benefits brain, nerve and muscle disorders research at the University of Minnesota. Click here for a list of the Diamond Awards winners and honorees, including former Wings Glen Perkin, Scott Diamond, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Ben Revere, and Denard Span , and potential 2013 Wings B.J. Hermsen and Oswaldo Arcia.

Thursday Jan. 24
This morning's wintry weather- both here and in Washington, DC - kept our original United Airlines plane on the ground for a while in DC and away from the ROC airport so our new friend Quentin Gordon at the ROC airport's United counter got us quickly re-booked thru Newark and then to Minneapolis ...speaking of our nation's capital, it will be strange to be at TwinsFest and not see former Wing Denard Span, one of our fave former Wings and big leaguers. D-Span will be acclimating himself to Nationals fans this weekend at NatsFest...We'll always fondly remember Denard's quiet urgency and determination in his play here, and this interview we did with him at TwinsFest 2009. The interview was conducted in right field at The Metrodome, where Denard made his major league debut. Did you know: On June 29, 2010, Denard tied the modern-day Major League Baseball record by hitting three triples in one game when he did so against the Detroit Tigers in an 11-4 victory. He became the 29th player since 1900 to accomplish this feat....An important goal for TwinsFest: take a photo as good as RIT grad Dylan Heuer, our TwinsFest photog the past two years and our 2010-2011 team photographer, or Joe Territo or Bare Antolos, our current team photogs. Let's see how we do....In-flight reading included: United's Hemisphere magazine, in which United CEO Jeff Smisek announced that United is the first North American carrier to accept delivery of the new Boeing 727 Dreamliner. United is adding more customer-pleasing features in 2013 including broadband wireless and streaming videos on many airplanes. You can check out the latest issue of Hemispheres, and previous issues, by clicking here. ...the Jan. 28 issue of Sports Illustrated, with features on former Wings Stan Musial and Earl Weaver; and the book "Yesterday Once More - The Carpenters Reader (revised and expanded edition)," by Randy L. Schmidt. Did you know the Carpenters' mega-hit "Superstar" was about Eric Clapton, and has been covered by artists as diverse as Luther Vandross, Cher, and Sonic Youth? You certainly know it was featured in the 1995 Chris Farley flick "Tommy Boy"...A quick and affordable ($1.75 one way) ride from the airport to downtown Minneapolis via light rail brought us to our fave Twin Cities hotel, The Hotel Minneapolis, Autograph Collection where recently called up Red Wings players spend their first nights in Minneapolis. Before heading to the Metrodome to unpack and set up the Wings booth, we enjoyed The Bear and The Margherita (with extra extra fresh basil) at Pizza Luce's downtown Minneapolis location. And we always must acknowledge former Red Wings clubhouse boy Terry "Thurm" Costello, who originally pointed us to Luce; we hear Terry is now using a Sharpie to mark the hands of 21 and overs with an "x" at a legendary Sunset Strip music the Dome, we met Scott Wilson and his family; Scott's the Assistant GM of the Twins' new Class A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, which will have former Wings fan fave Tommy Watkins on their coaching staff...Former Twins farm director Jim Rantz was honored at Thursday's Diamond Awards with the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award; here's more on Thursday's sold-out awards dinner from writer Rhett Bollinger.

Friday January 25
The Minnesota Twins announced today that former left-handed pitcher and two-time All-Star, Eddie Guardado, along with former Director of Public Relations, Tom Mee, have been elected to the club's Hall of Fame. Guardado and Mee will become the 25th and 26th members of the Twins Hall of Fame when they are inducted during a special on-field pre-game ceremony June 14 at Target Field. Click here for the official press release...A great lunch at restaurant Max, inside The Hotel Minneapolis. Our hosts, hotel GM Don Cook and Director of Sales and Marketing Richard Fischer, stopped by to say hello - right before we dug into our delicious chicken and wild rice soup. The gourmet turkey burger done Italian style and the massive Max burger were our entrees of choice, and perfect choices they were...An entertaining cab ride from the hotel to the Dome courtesy of our Red and White Cab driver Rajah. The conversation included his almost Travel Channel-like synopsis of a few downtown hot spots, and some memorable references to one of the greatest baseball movies of all time: "The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad!"...Twins GM Terry Ryan and Team Historian Clyde Doepner were two of the first visitors to our booth, right before the opening of TwinsFest...Stud OF prospect Oswaldo Arcia, the Twins' 2012 Minor League Player of the Year and a certain member of the 2013 Wings at some point, did not make the trip to Minneapolis after a minor injury in winter ball. Arcia is expected to be fine for the start of spring training in Fort Myers...Caught up with Brian Dozier at the Photo Booth, where we discussed how we each celebrated the birthday of Elvis Presley earlier this month; Brian and Elvis are fine sons of Tupelo, Mississippi...Walked down the ramp of the Dome with Baseball Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Rollie Fingers; both were appearing at the Ferguson Jenkins Foundation booth...Wings pitcher Kyle Gibson stopped by the Wings' booth before his schedule autograph signing...Kyle, Caleb Thielbar, and top relief prospect Michael Tonkin each shot 90-Second Egg interviews, look for them over the next few weeks....We posted a special Twitter offer for the first five tweeps/@drewbutera fans who visited our booth; the five Drew action photos were snapped up quickly and appreciatively by the Butera boosters...Speaking of Twitter, we had a chance to toss around hashtags with one of our Twitter idols: Twins President @TwinsPrez Dave St. Peter... Caleb told us a funny story about a couple of baseballs we showed him, which happened to have his name and phone number written on them; the balls were props in a bullpen joke last summer orchestrated by former Wing Kyle Waldrop ... OF mega-prospect Aaron Hicks - one of our fave interview subjects from a couple of years ago (Red Wings Insider, March 2010) - tentatively agreed to stand in front of our scrutinizing lens this time around ....Pitcher Pedro Hernandez signed autographs at his first TwinsFest, after joining the organization last summer with Eduardo Escobar in the Francisco Liriano trade. Pedro's family - including his adorable six-month-old daughter - were also enjoying TwinsFest... Bill Smith, the Special Assistant to the President and General Manager for the Twins, stopped by as he always does to discuss his family, all the great things happening at the Twins' Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, and Bruce Springsteen. Bill also provided us with GPS-quality directions from The Hotel Minneapolis to our fave local hangout, Lee's Liquor Lounge...Got our first look at the two top pitching prospects the Twins obtained in trades in December: Trevor May (from the Phillies in the Ben Revere trade,) and Alex Meyer (from the Nationals in the Denard Span trade)...Our choice for best-dressed prospect, Friday edition: catcher Chris Herrmann.

Check out our TwinsFest photo gallery #1 on our official Facebook page.

Friday night post-script:
Did we mention the first thing we sold out of on Friday was the Caleb Thielbar action photos? Now we have...On the walk out of the Dome Friday night, we encountered Liam Hendriks, Brian Duensing, and newlyweds Trevor and Olivia Plouffe, who were heading to a players' event...With the first night of TwinsFest in the books, and a long (9 am-6 pm) Saturday looming ahead, we thought it prudent to kick back for a bit at our fave Friday night hangout, Lee's Liquor Lounge. After a "well-intentioned" set by opener Kinda Kinky (a Kinks tribute band), DJ Jill Riley from 89.3 FM The Current helped set things back on course with an esoteric set that put down, in order: "Tell Me Somethin' Good" by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, "Theme from Shaft" by Isaac Hayes, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" by Michael Jackson, "Computer Blue" by local lad Prince, "Hush" by Deep Purple, and "Fox on the Run" by Sweet. Moments later, a spaceship metaphorically landed on the stage with the arrival of ELnO - the foremost Electric Light Orchestra tribute band in Upper Midwest and lower Canadian provinces. Yes, we've waxed poetic about the prowess of this Seventies spectacular event, and how the locals are moved to express themselves on the dance floor....yes, as the strains of opening instrumental "Fire On High" gave way to "Turn to Stone" a member of our party started jumping up and down....and yes, all the ELO classics were performed by a stage full of Jeff Lynnes. By the time the final cowbells had rung during closing combo "Evil Woman"/Do Ya?," the frenzied locals kicked their way through the PBR cans strewn on the floor and made their way out into the near-zero night. Oh - we also saw an amazing collection of Elvis stuff, and an autographed photo of Tiny Tim, along with a memorial card from his funeral service. You'll see the pic, along with a couple more pics of ELnO, on our Facebook page. As strange as all that sounds, perhaps the oddest sight of the night was a photo of a Wings staffer wearing an Evel Knievel-style helmet, the borrowed property of a couple of locals who took turns wearing the helmet on the dance floor all evening. Our content manager is reviewing the photo to see if it's suitable for posting. As Dave Barry often said, "I'm not making this up."

Check out our TwinsFest photo gallery #2 on our official Facebook page.

Check out the awesomeness of ELnO live at Lee's performing "Evil Woman" Jan. 2011 (hey - we were there that night!) on YouTube.

Saturday January 26
While overall attendance appears to be down so far this TwinsFest, there's no mistaking the incredible amount of interest in 19-year-old third baseman Miguel Sano. His Saturday morning autograph session (alongside Wings pitcher Caleb Theilbar, and future Wings pitcher Alex Meyer and catcher Chris Herrmann) drew lines of fans that wrapped around several different stations of the Metrodome floor. Sano is the high profile Dominican signing from 2009, profiled in the documentary "Pelotero." His power output in 2012 at Class A Beloit ( 28 2B, 28 HR and 100 RBI, .521 slugging pct, All-Star, Midwest League Prospect of the Year) has further entrenched his status as a top Twins prospect (Baseball America and's #1 Twins prospect) and now one of the top prospects in all of the minors (top third base prospect in baseball, We can add this: he does not appear to be a fan of the cold Twin Cities weather, wearing a jacket both days so far and requesting a hot cup of coffee to help warm up while signing for fans... Aaron Hicks was popular at a Kids Only Q&A, where he tactfully answered young fans' questions including who his favorite teammate was last season (Australian infielder James Beresford), and which member of his family he liked the most. You can check out a recent Rookie Career Development Program interview with Aaron right here....and Kyle Gibson right here...Dodgers legend Maury Wills signed for appreciative fans at the Bob Feller Museum booth. Maury was the first person to steal over 100 bases in a season, with 104 in 1962...Shot what should be a fairly hilarious future 90-Second Egg interview segment with Kyle Gibson. It included a verbal exchange between interviewer and interviewee that brought to mind the highest level of sophisticated wit, which should delight the more enlightened members of our audience. All we'll choose to say about it right now is: "potato"...Also put a wrap on video interviews with the current Twins Jim Rantz Award Minor League Pitcher of the Year, B. J. Hermsen and another highly regarded righty, Trevor May. B.J. will need a big spring to crack what is expected to be a strong veteran starting staff for the Wings, but he is definitely in the mix to wear a Wings uniform in 2013. His parents stopped by the Wings booth and picked up a couple of caps earlier in the day. You can follow B.J. on Twitter @BJHermsen12 ....May, acquired with Vance Worley in the Ben Revere trade, was a guest on the live 1500 ESPN radio broadcast, and talked about his decision to sign out of high school - despite having a baseball scholarship offer from University of Washington, and having been accepted at Stanford based on his grades. May also enjoys producing music, and you can hear his beats on his Soundcloud page - check him out on Twitter @Trevmay54 to find out more...Former Wings Scott Diamond @Scott_Diamond58 and Drew Butera @drewbutera took breaks from their busy TwinsFest schedule to stop by our booth. We talked Team Italy baseball and Africa vacations with Drew, who will suit up for the Italian team in the upcoming World Baseball Classic; the music of Metric and Of Monsters and Men, environmental responsibility, and his engagement on Canadian Thanksgiving last October with Scott.

TwinsFest Photo Gallery #3 on our Facebook page

Sat. January 26 post-script
After the Saturday session wrapped up, we jumped in the car with recently retired Twins Farm Director Jim Rantz, and headed to St. Paul for dinner at Mancini's. On the way, we passed St. Paul's Central High School - where Dave Winfield was a standout athlete in baseball, football and basketball. Jim has hosted a dinner for Twins' affiliates in town for TwinsFest at Mancini's Char-House and Lounge in the past, and this year Jim's successor Brad Steil was our gracious host. Mancini's, as we've raved about previously, is a St. Paul landmark for dining, hospitality and entertainment courtesy of Pat and John Mancini and family - in the tradition of their father Nick. Jim is a regular customer and honored guest at Mancini's, and also a member of their St. Paul Sports Hall of Fame; and as such our entire party was given a family welcome that started with plates of meatballs in red sauce and Italian baked chicken wings, a marinated tomatoes, peppers and pickles plate, and the bread.....delicious white and pumpernickel slices fresh off the char-grill. The hosts also graciously sent a couple of bottles of Mancini's Levee Red Wine, made especially for Mancini's by the Cannon River Winery in nearby Cannon Falls. (Cannon Falls is part of a key plot line in Mark Harris' baseball novel "Bang The Drum Slowly," and also part of the film based on the book - with a young Robert DeNiro's supposed visit to Cannon Falls prompting the arc of the film's plot.) Known for their steaks and seafood, our table enjoyed a delicious dinner filled with baseball talk - topped off by a couple of chocolate cakes with white frosting that the house sent along with their compliments.

St. Paul was hopping, with thousands of winter fun fans enjoying the annual St. Paul Winter Carnival, thousands more checking out the extreme action of the Crashed Ice Ice Cross Downhill World Championship where crazed action seekers skate down a luge track. So Mancini's and their Vegas Lounge was more active than usual. We had the honor of meeting "Red" Roberts, a long time friend of Jim's and a former King of the Carnival - at 90, Red was a sight to be seen as he meeted and greeted restaurant guests and post-Carnival Vulcan Krewe members. The vibe in the Vegas Lounge pulled us in, drawn by the great tunes served up on stage by Rimshot, Woody, Flash, DJ, and Denny B. - collectively known as The Rockin' Hollywoods. So instead of heading back to Minneapolis (which would have been the sensible thing to do), we set down roots and immersed ourselves in some uniquely St. Paul history and culture. The dance floor was packed all night long, and at one point an over-stimulated member of the audience - who may or may not have been from Rochester - jumped from the dance floor up onto the stage to join the band in the singing of "Dancin' in the Dark," the Bruce Springsteen hit. Unfortunately, the over-eager guest also brought his drink up with him, prompting a polite reminder from the band that drinks were not allowed on the dance floor. The room opened in the 1987, another part of Nick Mancini's vision of food and entertainment, and featured two shows by singer Anthony Benedetto - better known to the entertainment world as Tony Bennett. Tony has dined at Mancini's a couple of times since opening the Vegas Lounge. Finally, as Saturday merged into Sunday, we thanked our hosts Pat and John and asked to call us a cab. But Pat personally arranged for our transportation back to The Hotel Minneapolis, and for that act of kindness - as well as for all the warm, friendly hospitality and dining enjoyment - we say to our friends the Mancini family, "Grazie."

Check out our TwinsFest photo gallery #4 on our official Facebook page.

Sunday January 27
We woke up to voicemail messages letting us know that Winter Storm Luna was going to extend our stay in Minneapolis by a day. The weather - freezing rain, changing to snow starting at mid-morning - impacted attendance, but TwinsFest still managed to draw an estimated 25,000 and raise more than $250,000 for the Twins Community Fund. Some Sunday quick hits: we found a Mr Socko sock puppet in our bag and sold it - as a "Have a Nice Day" Sunday special...Our creative last day/best deal in the dome" creative signs helped move nearly all of the Wings caps we brought....The funny Caleb Thielbar baseballs story we referenced Friday? We recruited a female co-conspirator to set up Caleb one last time while he signed for fans.. Wings skipper Gene Glynn stopped by our booth, before doing a radio guest stint and signing autographs with Joe Benson, Liam Hendriks and Anthony Swarzak.... And a member of our group left the Dome with something he had been eyeing from the moment we walked in Thursday night: a Mets-blue "Tom Terrific" t-shirt from the Bob Feller Museum booth. We were sad to have to pack up our merch but pack we did after a 9 a.m.-4 p.m. day at the Dome. After dinner with Bill Smith of the Twins, we were ready to get ready for our early morning United flight thru Chicago and our return to Rochester.

Check out our TwinsFest photo gallery #4 on our official Facebook page.

TwinsFest coverage
Stroll back through time and re-live our coverage of previous TwinsFests, each one a time capsule of blogs, photo galleries and videos from the Red Wings-Twins affiliation.
TwinsFest 2012 | TwinsFest 2011
TwinsFest 2010 | TwinsFest 2009