TWINSFEST 2018 - Jan. 19-21
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 $4 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 new Embassy Suites by Hilton in downtown Minneapolis.
Twins fans - be sure to check out the Red Wings booth at TwinsFest 2018. We have authentic game-worn jerseys including Buxton, Colon, Berrios, Curtiss, Gonsalves, Granite, Garver, Hildenberger, Slegers, and more, player photos and card sets, on-field caps and hoodies, and much more. Look for us on the Club level of Target Field, in the Legends Club near the Carew Atrium.
SUNDAY JAN. 21
After a strangely mild for January weekend, an impending snowstorm and the impending purple wave of Vikings excitement contributed to a quiet final day of TwinsFest. Our day started out with one last breakfast at our home base, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis Downtown. We were delighted by the extra crispy pecan flavored bacon, tater tots, and cinnaminny french toast as part of our final meal.
United Airlines' smart phone app provides accurate flight notifications, and we knew fairly early that our flight from the Twin Cities to Chicago would be delayed. With the winter storm hitting the Rocky Mountain region, a Denver to Minneapolis flight that would provide our plane to Chicago had to wait out the weather.
Combine packing for home, packing our booth for shipment, and pondering the incoming snowstorm and it was a hectic day at Target Field. Former Twins farm director Brad Steil visited our booth; Brad's now the director of pro scouting for the Twins. Brad thinks the pitching depth in the Twins organization will give the Wings a very strong pitching staff to open the season.
For a brief period of time it looked like we might be forced to stay an extra day, and watch the NFC Championship game with real Vikings fans in Minnesota; but the United app let us know that the inbound plane coming from Denver was first at the gate, then in the air and finally heading toward the Twin Cities. The Metro Transit Light Rail Blue Line got us to the airport efficiently as usual. We found it well worth it to get a day pass to the United Club. The comfortable quiet lounge, friendly staffers, an array of snacks (including a wonderful Vermont Cheddar), drinks, and chicken soup let us enjoy our wait time in style and comfort.
The Twins will announce TwinsFest attendance figures, and total dollar amount raised this year for the Twins Community Fund, sometime in the next few days.
SATURDAY JAN. 20
Usually the busiest day of the weekend, Saturday morning offered sunshine and balmy-for-January 37° weather for TwinsFest. A busy day calls for maximum nutrition, and the guest breakfast lounge at Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis Downtown checked all the boxes for our group. We chatted with some Twins fans from Fargo while waiting for our omelettes, and we all added a piece of french toast with warm syrup to our agenda.
Saturday top sellers: Red Wings team card sets, game-worn jerseys of Kennys Vargas and Bartolo Colon, and three Star Wars Night Princess Leia specialty jerseys.
Seen on the scene: Amy Littell and friends, the mom of future Wings pitcher Zack Littell, here from North Carolina. We're really hoping Zack spends as much time in Rochester as possible; in 2017, he played for Tampa and Trenton in the Yankees chain, then our Double-A Chattanooga club after being acquired in the Jaime Garcia trade. The catch? All three of Zack's 2017 clubs made the playoffs. Oh, and Zack's record across all three clubs in '17: 19-1 with a 2.12 ERA. Check out more on those eyebrow-raising numbers on Zack's MiLB.com page...Gene and Julie Glynn, hanging out at our booth and sending along their regards to the fans in Rochester...Twins Hall of Famer Jim Rantz, the namesake for the Twins' annual Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award...Later on, Jim's son Mike stopped by; Mike played a couple of seasons of minor league ball in the Oakland organization, with Jose Canseco and Terry Steinbach among his teammates...Shaun Hagglund, the impossibly handsome honcho behind Fan HQ and JustinMorneau.com, picking up a game worn jersey and some player nameplates. We passed along some Morneau Wings merch to Shaun, and he promised to deliver it personally to Justin tomorrow at TwinsFest. With Justin's official retirement this week and his new position with Twins, we're hoping he makes a stop at Frontier Field sometime this season.
FRIDAY JAN. 19
The Wings staff had an early morning breakfast meeting to game plan the weekend, and the full breakfast service at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis Downtown was the perfect start to our day. Oatmeal, bagels and toast, scrambled eggs, breakfast meats and potatoes, cereals, fruit juices, coffee and tea choices...as that weren't enough, a fresh cooked omelet provides another great option. Pancakes with hot syrup? Yep, pancakes too. This is all part of your stay at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis Downtown. May we highly recommend our omelet choice - with bacon, peppers, cheese, and spinach? With a touch of ketchup, and some fresh mild salsa over the top? Yes, please.
Setting up our booth in the club level of Target Field was made easier thanks to Venika Streeter, the behind the scenes force who helps make so much of the TwinsFest experience rewarding for fans and business partners. Our shipment arrived here on Tuesday, and our packages were waiting for us at our booth, neatly stacked and ready to go. First sale of the day? Twins curator Clyde Doepner, who added a Bartolo Colon and Stephen Gonsalves jersey to his collection.
Our first ROC-related sighting of the day took place in the Skyway at lunch time, when we caught up with Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco and Rochester's own barber to the Twins and Wings, Andy Fade. Jorge enjoyed a breakout big league season with the Twins in 2017, and Andy continues to work his artistry on big league hairstyles for all his customers.
Seen on the Scene: Aaron Slegers and his family walking through the Club level, with his parents getting a "Red Wings Family" discount on their purchases...Tyler Duffey, Ryan Pressly, and John Curtiss - a trio of Texas lads - teaming up with New Yorker Zack Granite, and Aussie Lewis Thorpe, playing against young Twins fans in the Human Foosball arena...Dietrich Enns, stopping by our booth to talk about his big league debut on August 10...and Royce Lewis, the top pick in the 2017 draft, enjoying some quality time with young fans along with Jorge Polanco...Mitch Garver, who delivered a big league high five to a member of our crew while asking if "the guy with the rake and gold helmet" was here. Mitch teamed up with Zack, Aaron, and Trevor Hildenberger in a "Tattletales" game show emceed by Twins TV voice Dick Bremer. Check out Friday pics on our Facebook page...Julie Glynn, wife of former Wings skipper Gene, stopped over to catch up. Did you know: the Rockies' Triple-A Albuquerque club now has former Wings hitting coach Tim Doherty on their staff. Also now in Albuquerque: former Wings promotions assistants Alex "Sheamus" Clark, and C.J. "Ramone" Scroger.
Friday photo gallery on our official Facebook page
Baseball news today: the Twins announced that former pitcher Johan Santana will be inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame this season. Click here for the official release. ...and the Twins have signed infielder Jermaine Curtis and right-handed pitcher Omar Bencomo to minor league contracts, with both players candidates to play for the Red Wings this season.
Classic rock news today: Def Leppard, who already made their share of news today by releasing their entire catalog to music streaming services, will co-headline a Target Field concert July 27 with Journey. "Don't Stop Believing" that this event will make you "Rock Rock Until You Drop," and you'll take a "Photograph" of the "Hysteria" that will take over when those two bands perform. (Rochester-area fans have the chance to see the tour at its Buffalo or Toronto stops.)
THURSDAY JAN. 18
A beautiful day to travel to the Twins Cities, with our Rochester to Chicago United Airlines flight arriving 20 minutes early - despite a brief de-icing before leaving ROC. This gave our group the chance to complete a culinary Chi-Town double play for lunch: an authentic Vienna Beef Chicago-style hot dog, and a Chicago deep dish personal pizza.
One of our travellers boarded with dirty, salt and mud-stained footwear; cue Dr. Randy, the"Shoe Fixologist" of O'Hare's Terminal F. Not only did the good doctor provide a big league shoe shine experience, but he offered great stories about the many celebrities he's encountered in his career - including The Godfather of Soul James Brown ($100 tip), Bears legend Mike Ditka, boxing promoter Don King, and basketball Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain. The largest shoe size Randy has doctored: NBA great Bob Lanier, whose shoes tipped off at size 22 - wide.
On-board reading choices of our travel party: "Back to the Bat Cave," the memoir written by TV's Batman, Adam West; and "A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon," chronicling the ill-fated life of the Blind Melon singer.
And everyone on an United flight could read the January issue of Hemispheres, United's on-board and online magazine. The current issue features a message from United CEO Oscar Munoz about United being the first U.S.-based carrier to allow tech-savvy customers to check-in for flights, get updates, and stay in touch with United through devices like Amazon's Alexa and Google Home. Did you know: United's MileagePlus reward program was recently named the best overall frequent-flyer program in the world for the 14th straight time by Global Traveler. United is installing new broadband controllers on all aircraft, to increase Wi-Fi reliability. Hemishpheres has features on Rochester-born, award-winning actor John Lithgow (my fave Lithgow role: "Roberta" in "The World According to Garp"), and "Three Perfect Days in Las Vegas" (site of the the annual Baseball Winter Meetings this December).
Metro Transit's Blue Line light rail was a quick (24 minutes), affordable ($2.50 per ticket) way to get to our hotel: The Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis Downtown. Did you know: the hotel is just a two block walk from the Warehouse/Hennepin light rail stop, and an indoor Skyway walk to Target Center and Target Field. Hotel guests get to enjoy a complimentary happy hour each day, and we're already looking forward to the amazing breakfast buffet - also included with your room stay.
At the happy hour reception - where one member of our group showed a Charlie Kelly-like obsession with the spicy cheese on the snack buffet - we spotted a guest wearing a bright orange shirt. A closer look showed the word "Pearl" in Syracuse-style script. Yes - it was a visitor from Syracuse, paying homage to the late Orange great, Dwayne "The Pearl" Washington. The guest and his friend work for a CNY refrigeration company, here in town to work on an ice-making situation at the Target Center.
After an Uber ride marked by late pick-up, a dirty windshield, and multiple wrong turns, we finally made it to dinner - at Bar Luchador, located near the University of Minnesota campus. This place had some awesome tacos, served up in a festive Mexican wrestling themed atmosphere. Masked luchador art surrounded us, Lucha Libre wrestling action filled the monitors, and the walls had a hard-hitting collection of signed photos of wrestling stars, past and present. This is definitely a BYOM spot (bring your own mask). By the time we figured out which in our group were rudos or technicos, it was time for another courageous ride home. Kayfabe brings this segment to a three count.
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, including Brian Dozier, Byron Buxton, Kyle Gibson, and Trevor Hildenberger. Red Wings C/1B Mitch Garver and RHP Aaron Slegers were selected as the top minor league players in the Twins' organization for 2017. Click here for coverage at TwinsBaseball.com.
Red Wings left-hander Stephen Gonsalves just participated in the MLB Rookie Career Development Program, along with Wings reliever John Curtiss, and future Wings OF LaMonte Wade and RHP Fernando Romero; each January, top prospects come together for four days to learn about life in the big leagues. Here's Stephen talking about his experience....Gonsalves was also listed as the #9 top left-handed pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline.
The Minnesota Twins announced on Thursday that they have hired Twins legend Jim Kaat as Special Assistant to the organization. Kaat, 79, pitched 25 seasons in the major leagues from 1959-83, including 15 with the Twins/Senators franchise from 1959-73. He pitched in 468 career games in a Twins uniform, going 189-152 with a 3.28 ERA (2959.1 IP, 1080 ER), 133 complete games and 1,824 strikeouts and is the Twins' all-time leader in wins and innings pitched. Kaat was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2001 and was named one of the "50 Greatest Twins" in 2010. As a Special Assistant, Kaat will engage in various Twins community and business initiatives both in Minnesota as well as Southwest Florida. He joins fellow Twins legends Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek and former Wing Tom Kelly in this role with the Minnesota franchise.
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 2017: Trevor May, Gene Glynn, Michael Restovich, Glen Perkins, Prince, Kennys Vargas, Vulcan Krewe, and more
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
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.