TwinsFest 2016 coverage presented by
United Airlines - www.United.com
The Hotel Minneapolis, Autograph Collection - www.TheHotelMinneapolis.com
TWINSFEST 2016 - Jan. 29-31
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.
Twins fans - be sure to check out the Red Wings booth at TwinsFest 2016. Our booth is located on the Club level of Target Field, in the Legends Club near the Carew Atrium.
Sunday Jan. 31:
Combine personal packing, hotel check-out, the final busy day of TwinsFest, packing up our remaining items for shipment back home, and a race to the airport for our United flights home, and you get a typical TwinsFest Sunday. Fortunately, the fresh and delicious Restaurant Max breakfast buffet provided us with our best meal of the day. (Max apple french toast: farewell. I will miss you.) A Jose Berrios t-shirt/photo combo was our first sale of the day; seeing Red Wings season ticket holders the Pierce family - here from the ROC for TwinsFest - was our big highlight of the day. Pitcher Ryan O'Rourke was at our booth, telling some background stories on the Wings bullpen's salute to WWE legend Bret "Hitman" Hart back in June; turns out the Pierce family are big O'Rourke fans, and picked up a couple of O'Rourke items which Ryan promptly autographed for them. Look for a photo in our Sunday photo gallery. Twins GM Terry Ryan, always one of the busiest execs during TwinsFest, always finds time to visit with each of the minor league clubs to talk baseball and business...Pitcher Logan Darnell, with a winter beard and a longer hairstyle than you may remember, came by for a chat before heading back home to Nashville. There's a chance that Logan - used mainly in relief last season - will be working as a starter this coming season.
Sunday photo gallery on our official Facebook page
Thanks to Twins farm director Brad Steil for hosting all the minor league clubs at dinner Saturday night. It was a great chance to unwind from the longest and busiest day of TwinsFest, and a good chance to ask some "insider" type questions about the possible make-up of the Wings' 2016 roster. The pre-dinner toast included a reference to the "championship trail" of Class A Fort Myers winning their league title in 2014, and Double-A Chattanooga winning their league title in 2015...will the trail lead to Triple-A in 2016? Here's hoping...Before dinner, while sitting and chatting with pitcher Logan Darnell (still a little travel fatigued from his early a.m. flight from California), Twins 3B and popular former Wing Trevor Plouffe strolled through the hall. California cool as always (maybe a little too "cool," we might say), Trevor updated us on his adorable four-month-old son Teddy, while on the way to have dinner with his mom and sister. Logan pointed out a small fashion faux pas Trevor committed, and Trevor addressed the issue while we pondered which Instagram filter would have been best if we had snapped a photo...A post-dinner visit to the legendary Lee's Liquor Lounge - where Mitch Gordon and the Unleaded Band were playing old and new country, hot and cool - concluded with our bartender complimenting a member of our group on his resemblance to Joel McHale, star of "The Soup" and "Community." Abdullah from MSP Transportation has kind of become our personal driver, a Midwest version of Dan "Johnny Bravo" Lynd, if you will. Abdullah got us back to The Hotel Minneapolis quickly and safely.
Saturday January 30:
After a deliciously satisfying early morning breakfast buffet at Restaurant Max, we headed to Target Field. We must say the fresh omelet station and the apple french toast were sooooo wonderful, as was our smiling server Amy - who even made a coffee to go for the least awake member of our crew
Usually the busiest day of TwinsFest, the crowds were lined up early and took advantage of a mild winter day (41°) to come to Target Field. The early morning highlight: an emotional interview with Twins legend Rod Carew, for the announcement of "The Heart of 29" initiative with the American Heart Association. Click here for TwinsBaseball.com coverage of Carew's announcement.
For the second year in a row, Bat-fans fluttered around our booth and purchased photos of Burt Ward as Robin from the classic TV series. As you'll recall, Burt was the headliner of our MiLBY Award nominated Batman and Robin Night in 2014. Other popular Saturday items: our 2015 Team Card Set loaded with great prospects, Wings caps, and Brian Dozier as a Wing player photos.
Slugging outfielder Adam Brett Walker II and flame-throwing reliever Nick Burdi interacted with fans, then interacted with our video camera for upcoming 90 Second Egg episodes. We found out Adam played the clarinet as a youngster, and Nick has a favorite member of the Kardashian family; both of these top prospects are expected to start the 2016 season in a Red Wings uniform.
Seen on the scene: OF Darin Mastroianni, back in the Twins organization, now living in Minneapolis, and a new dad as he and his wife have a four-month-old baby girl... Baseball Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, asking us for directions to the Carew press conference and recalling a funny story from his visit to Rochester in 2014...speaking of stories, more Stu Cliburn stories exchanged with our buddies from Chattanooga - one of them involved Elvis...Stylish lefty Taylor Rogers went out of his way to visit all the minor league clubs' booths. Taylor had an All-Star rookie season for the Wings in 2015, and has worked his way into the conversation for the Twins as he heads to big league camp in a couple weeks....A reunion with one of the early stars of the Twins/Red Wings era: local lad (Rochester, MN) Michael Restovich, signing autographs with former Wing Trevor May and future Wing Jake Reed. Michael is the last Wings player to hit for the cycle, doing it in order with a single, double, triple followed by a home run on May 8, 2004 against Durham at Frontier Field. Michael's in law school now, and his three kids, his mom, and his sister were all at TwinsFest while wife Erika attended a family function. Look for a nice family photo in our Saturday gallery...Alex Meyer and wife Kyra strolled by. Mr. and Mrs. Meyer left San Diego at 6 a.m.d this morning to get to TwinsFest, after attending Michael Tonkin's wedding Friday...Former Wings manager Gene Glynn also made a special visit, asking about the fans and front office staff in Rochester. Check out photos of Gene, Taylor, and more in our Saturday photo gallery, on our official Facebook page.
Saturday photo gallery on our official Facebook page
Friday Jan. 29:
A busy day of set-up at Target Field, after a satisfying breakfast at Restaurant Max. And before we go any further, special thanks to Venika Streeter of the Twins, who is the behind the scenes force in coordinating so many different aspects of TwinsFest. Our merch boxes were waiting for us at our booth, as were the shipments from our Minnesota farm system cohorts from Chattanooga, Cedar Rapids, and Fort Myers.
Speaking of Chattanooga, the Lookouts won the Southern League championship in 2015, their first title since 1988. A core group of seven players won the Florida State League title in Fort Myers in 2014, then graduated to win again with the Lookouts in 2015. That core will make up a large part of the 2016 Red Wings roster. We traded Tommy Watkins and Stu Cliburn stories with Andrew and Dan from Chattanooga, located in the TwinsFest both right next to ours; Stu has been their pitching coach and will be on the Wings staff this coming season, while popular former Wing Tommy earned a promotion from Class A to the Double-A Lookouts for 2016.
Some big Twins news: first off, former Red Wing (1976) Tom Kelly received the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award at the Diamond Awards Thursday night, and on Friday it was announced that Torii Hunter and broadcaster John Gordon were elected to the Twins Hall of Fame. Hunter and Gordon will be honored later this season.
In matrimonial news, congrats to hard-throwing Wings reliever Michael Tonkin - marrying Becky Feeney Friday in California. Pitchers Alex Meyer and Logan Darnell were scheduled to attend, then fly to Minnesota for the weekend TwinsFest events. Former Wings pitcher A.J. Achter, now with the Angels organization, was also expected to attend the wedding Friday.
Twins Minor League Player of the Year and Southern League MVP Max Kepler did not attend TwinsFest weekend, advised not to travel with an upper respiratory illness. Kepler is expected to be fine and ready for spring training, and he would look great in a Wings uniform on April 7 in Scranton.
Former Wings manager and current Twins coach Gene Glynn is a Minnesota native, and his wife Julie and other members of his family stopped the Red Wings booth. We found out their son Geno is now a scout for Tampa Bay, and son Chris will be working as a clubhouse manager for the Twins' Class A Fort Myers club, and also working big league spring training.
Seen on the scene: Former Red Wings player and coach Butch Davis, now a Twins coach, mixing it up with fans in the human foosball game along with Trevor May and Tyler Duffey. Speaking of Tyler - who had a break-out rookie pitching campaign after he was called up from Rochester to the big leagues - he was the subject of a somewhat silly but definitely Texas-sized 90 Second Egg interview; look for it on our official YouTube page in the next couple of weeks...power hitting outfielder Adam Brett Walker II and his high rise hair style, teaming up with Trevor to play Twins Match Game with young fans... Former Wing, Southern gentleman, musician, Elvis fan and Twins star Brian Dozier giving us a big hello on his way to interact with fans...a couple of fans asking about pitcher Mark Hamburger, another Minnesota guy and a fan favorite in Rochester. One big Hamburger fan went home with Mark's black game worn jersey from last season...Ryan O'Rourke, who made his big league debut after pitching for the Wings last season, stopped by our booth to say hey, and recall the story of Wings pitching coach Marty Mason and manager Mike Quade giving him the good news about the call from the Twins. Ryan also entertained, and signed for, many fans while at our booth...Oswaldo Arcia, featured a couple of times in our 2016 calendar, heard the buzz and came over to pick up some copies to share with his family.
Friday photo gallery on our official Facebook page
Thursday Jan. 28:
TwinsFest weekend kicks 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 Kyle Gibson (Twins Pitcher of the Year), Aaron Hicks (Most Improved Player), Eddie Rosario (Defensive Player of the Year), and Brian Dozier (Community Service Award). Wings pitcher Jose Berrios (Minor League Pitcher of the Year), and Chattanooga OF Max Kepler (Minor League Player of the Year) were also honored at the event. Click here for coverage at TwinsBaseball.com.
Also on Thursday, the Twins unveiled a new red alternate jersey for Friday games, check it out here.
Red Wings All-Star 2B James Beresford will play for Australia in the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Sydney Feb. 11-14. The winner of the four-team qualifier will advance to the March 2017 World Baseball Classic. Other Minnesota organization players on Team Australia include RHP Sam Gibbons and Todd Van Steensel, INF Logan Wade, and OF Aaron Whitefield. Former Wings Trent Oeltjen, Allen de San Miguel, and Luke Hughes will join Beresford and on the Aussie club; former Wings infielder Tim Hulett will manage the Philippines club in the qualifier.
Popular Red Wings pitcher Logan Darnell cleared waivers and has been assigned to the Red Wings roster, with an invite to big league spring training camp. Darnell will be at TwinsFest this weekend.
Friend of the Wings Dan "Johnny Bravo" Lynd provided our ride from the ballpark to the ROC airport, for our flight to Washington, DC and on to Minneapolis. We boarded with a confident swagger in our step, due to the great shoeshine provided by Jose at Rivera's Superior Airport Shine stand. Jose talked fondly about his father taking him to Wings games at Silver Stadium, and later at Frontier Field.
During our layover at Washington's Dulles International Airport, we had time to check out the United Club - and we were glad we did. The comfortable lounge, with wifi and plenty of power, desk, and comfortable chair options, provided a perfect place to regroup before taking off for the Twin Cities. The Dulles United Club offered a great variety of food for hungry travelers - delicious baked potato soup, hummus with fresh vegetables, rich chocolate graham squares, and more. One member of our group was delighted when he saw the fresh fruit bowls with bananas and apples; the drink options included strawberry mint infused water, mango pineapple aqua fresca, and raspberry infused homemade lemonade. Any United traveler can purchase a one-day pass for a United Club for $50, find out more by clicking here.
The current issue of United's Hemispheres magazine has an interesting stat regarding last winter's record cold and snow: despite the tough winter of 2014-15, United cancelled 17,000 fewer flights last January and February compared to the prior year. Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Office Greg Hart notes that United can't control the weather, but they can try to influence the outcome for their passengers with a more proactive approach to challenging weather events. Did you know: United offers illycaffe' coffee on board as of November. The Trieste, Italy based illy has more than 80 years of history in the coffee industry.
The January Hemispheres also has an interview with TV comedy legend Carol Burnett, who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at Saturday's 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. In the interview, Burnett reflects on her historic place in TV entertainment as the first woman to get her own sketch comedy show ("The Carol Burnett Show," which ran for 12 seasons on CBS beginning in 1967), and the influence credited to her by modern day stars Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Amy Schemer. For a free subscription to United's monthly eMag, and to access recent issues, go to hemipsheresmagazine.com.
The fast, affordable ($1.75) light rail ride from the airport to downtown Minneapolis may be the best public transportation deal in the country. An easy check-in at The Hotel Minneapolis, and a late dinner at Red Cow's new North Loop location capped our travel day. Might we add that Red Cow's Chicken sandwich - roasted chicken, sriracha aioli, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lettuce, tomato & bacon crumble on focaccia bread - was an indulgent and delicious treat for the senior member of our group, who was eating waaay past his normal cut-off time of 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. When our waitress inquired if we were having a "family" dinner - "father and two brothers" - it added a comedic flourish to our meal and day.
Looking forward to seeing KARE-11's Friday morning show, co-hosted by our old friend Cory Hepola - who spent a couple of summers covering the Wings for News 8 WROC. Cory's a local guy back in his home town and hopefully we'll see him at TwinsFest.
Previous TwinsFest coverage:
Blogs, links to photo galleries and videos, and a time capsule of Twins and Wings things - past, present and future.
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
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.