TWINSFEST 2019 - Jan. 25-27
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 $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.
Follow this page for daily blogs from TwinsFest, with links to daily photo albums on our official Facebook page.
SUNDAY JAN. 27
Sunday is a busy scramble with fans looking for last day of show sale specials, followed by breaking down and packing up our booth for return shipping to Rochester. Our new bff Royce Lewis chatted with us about Twin Cities food fave the Jucy Lucy burger (a stuffed burger with cheese on the inside). We congratulated the friendly 19-year-old on his lofty spot in the MLB Top 100, and told him we look forward to the day he and his Batmobile pull in the Frontier Field parking lot.
Big sellers at our booth Sunday: game worn jerseys, caps, and team card sets. After receiving numerous inquiries about the Willians Astudillo game worn jersey all weekend, that item finally found a very happy home.
Seen on the scene: Baseball Hall of Famer Jack Morris, an early arrival Sunday morning....former Wings outfielder and local lad Michael Restovich and his family; Resto signed autographs with Michael Cuddyer and Joe Nathan. Congrats to Michael on recently finishing law school; he'll take the bar exam here next month....pitcher Fernando Romero, flashing a big smile and a stylish tight hairstyle, was happy to see a member of our staff wearing Fernando's #43 home white top....Tommy Watkins, asking questions of a somewhat personal nature about Grant Anderson...Tyler Duffey, giving us a five star review of his steak dinner Saturday night (New York strip).
Hey, Kid - Catch! Remember the classic Coke commercial with Steelers star Mean Joe Greene and a hero worshipping little kid? And the Twins' version with Joe Mauer and a young Twins fan? Around the Red Wings' office, we like to tell ourselves we're not just in the baseball business - we're in the memory making business. Follow along: Tyler Duffey gave us the last TC Bear trapper hat he could find on Saturday, and stopped by near the end of TwinsFest Sunday wearing the hat. One of our staffers happened to also be wearing the hat, so he and Tyler posed for a quick photo together (you'll see it in our Facebook photo album).
A few minutes later, a young Twins fan and his dad stopped by our booth and asked where we got the TC Bear hat. We politely answered with the details that it was a player gift, and a player had given one to us - that it was a giveaway from the end of last season, and we didn't think they were being sold anywhere. The young lad, crestfallen, turned away and as they walked away his dad tried to console him and temper the disappointment. A couple minutes later our staffer, with a memory of the Mean Joe Greene Coke spot in his head and the opportunity to spread the legend of our brand with a random act of Red Wings kindness, took off down down the hallway chasing after the father and son. As the afternoon sunlight swirled in through the windows near the Champions Club entrance, and the dramatic music in his head reaching a crescendo, our staffer yelled out "Hey kid!" The young man turned around with a mystified look on his face, but when our staffer yelled "catch!" and tossed the cap through the air, the kid was ready and snagged his new TC Bear trapper cap. Father and son, grateful and happy together, came back to our booth to sincerely thank us for the gesture. Our day - and weekend - was made.
Click here for our Sunday pics on our official Facebook page.
Our Saturday night tradition has been to enjoy the hospitality, food, and entertainment at Mancini's Char-House in St. Paul - a local institution since 1948. Twins Hall of Famer and retired farm director Jim Rantz introduced us to Mancini's many years ago, and we've added it to of list of must do when in the area. Pat and John Mancini run the establishment, in the tradition of their father and founder of Mancini's, Nick.
While enjoying the complimentary fresh grilled bread and marinated tomatoes, pickles and peppers plate, we watched with interest online as MLB.com unveiled their list of Top 100 Prospects heading into the 2019 season. Three future Wings made the list with flame-throwing righty Brusdar Graterol slotted in at #68, and Twins and Wings fans have even more reason to be excited about the future: OF Alex Kirilloff placed at #9, and SS Royce Lewis was at #5. The Astros were the only other team to have two players in the top ten.
Mancini's was also the epicenter for the Vulcan Krewe Saturday night after their spaceship landed in the Mancini's parking lot around 5 p.m. Red-clad Vulcans are drawn to like moths to a flame each year after the St Paul Winter Fest carnival, probably becuase of the lush red tones of Mancini's Vegas Lounge.
In a sad note from the weekend, our sincere deepest sympathies go out to Steve "Rimshot" Ghizoni and the entire Rockin' Hollywoods band family on the loss of their drummer and friend Doug "DJ" James.
Two other notes from Saturday: thanks to our close personal friend Tyler Duffey, we landed three sweet Twins winter knit caps - and one of the popular TC Bear trapper hat being worn around TwinsFest by everyone from former Twin LaTroy Hawkins to current Wing Lewis Thorpe. The hats are going to prove invaluable with Winter Storm Jayden and deep freeze on its way to the Twin Cities on Sunday. How deep? Sunday temps may not make it over 0; Tuesday forecast shows a high of -7 and a low of -26; Wednesday, sunny and a high of -11. And in a interesting variation on a theme, Wings outfielder LaMonte Wade took over the mic and conducted a 90 Second Egg interview with our own Grant Anderson at the close of TwinsFest Saturday. To paraphrase the ending of the film "Casablanca," the Anderson/Wade duo looks like the start of a beautiful friendship; if the finished interview "measures up" (YK) to our 90SE standards and gets enough "likes" and "hits," look for an ongoing series of topical talks between the two later this year.
SATURDAY JAN. 26
A light morning snowfall and 0° temperature made for a late arriving crowd Saturday.
With the long day ahead of us, nutrition is as important as ever - so when Embassy Suites by Minneapolis Downtown breakfast chef Lamar smiled and wished us good morning, we knew we were on the right path. Lamar worked his magic and made a perfect omelette with bacon, spinach, peppers, and cheddar for one member of our group - who took advantage of the fresh salsa available as a topping. It was delicious, nutritious - and there was still room left for a thick slice of french toast with hot syrup. Would you like some tea? Yes, many kinds available in addition to coffee and juice.
MiLB.com posted a nice feature on former Wing and new Baseball Hall member Mike Mussina, including a great pic of Mike on the mound for the Wings at Silver Stadium. Check it by clicking here.
By 11 am, the temperature had made it up to 3°. 19-year-old top prospect Royce Lewis stopped by our booth to talk Batman before he started his busy day. We knew Royce was a Bat-fan, so when Gotham star David Mazouz appeared at our Batman Night last summer, we made sure to get a signed pic from David to Royce and sent it along to Lewis. When MLB.com debuts its Top 100 Prospects tonight on MLB Network, expect Lewis to occupy a high position - as in top 10.
Speaking of top prospects, Twin Cities news reports list Lewis and top outfield prospect Alex Kirilloff will get big league camp invites. Other future Wings getting big league invites include slugging Double-A players Luke Raley (20 HR) and Brent Rooker (22 HR), catchers Ben Rortvedt and Brian Navarreto, and Wings pitchers Ryan Eades and Jake Reed. We're especially happy for Jake, whose stellar bullpen numbers look even better when you add in his many appearances in the Rochester community to promote Red Wings Baseball. Jake's work off the field in Rochester earned him the Harmon Killebrew Award from the Twins.
CanCon: Looking north down on the farm, the Twins have two trending Canadian pitchers in the farm system, both from the Toronto area: RHP Jordan Balazovic from Mississauga Ont. and RHP Landon Leach from Pickering, Ont. Both pitchers are a couple years away from appearing on the Frontier Field mound, but if they make it to Rochester it will be easy for their family and friends to take a ride to see them pitch here
Seen on the scene: For the second straight day, Twins legend Tony Oliva strolled in with us this morning. Tony O loves being at the ballpark, seeing fans, and you'll still see him in uniform around the batting cage before Twins home games. A reminder of how great Tony's career path was heading (AL Rookie of the Year and batting title in 1964, two more batting titles, All-Star in his first eight seasons), before knee injuries slowed his career, can be found here....Caught up with Twins Hall of Famer Jim Kaat as he passed by our booth...Tyler Duffey, looking very un-Texan like wearing a brown fur-looking TC The Bear trapper hat with bear ears on it...Tommy Watkins stepped into our booth for an interview segment, talking about the day he found out he was being offered a big league coaching job, and Tommy Watkins Day in Ft, Myers last week. Tommy included a special message for Wings fans at the end of the segment....That dude with the lumberjack beard and adorable little daughter in the Wings booth? It was our paisan, former Wings outfielder Darin Mastroianni and his daughter Sloan. Mastro lives in the area and signed autographs during an afternoon session with outfielder Jake Cave and pitcher Trevor Hildenberger.
Two more local ROC connections made Saturday: season seat holder Matt Juba is attending TwinsFest this weekend, proudly wearing his Plates hoodie and cap. By the way: Red Wings season seats put you into a pretty exclusive territory with the same great seats every game, a substantial discount off the ticket office prices, private picnic with the team and much more. Click here to get more information on becoming a Red Wings season seat holder. And Greece native and current Twins Cities resident Jason Snook picked up a new Red Wings cap and t-shirt during his TwinsFest visit.
Check out the Saturday photo album on our Facebook page
After a long day of inventory, set up, talking to fans and doing our best to represent Rochester Community Baseball - with a high level of success, we might add - a decision was made to envelop ourselves in local flavor by visiting the James Ballentine Uptown VFW Post 246. But this was no ordinary VFW Post; it's a legit multi-layer entertainment venue and night spot. What drew us to the post? An epic battlle of the bands featuring Zeppo, a modest Led Zeppelin tribute band, up against ELnO - the finest Electric Light Orchestra tribute band in the Midwest and lower Canadian provinces. We've waxed poetic about the magic of ELnO before, usually when we've encountered them at Lee's Liqour Lounge. On this night, it was a going away party of sorts for guitarist Jeff Lynne Prime. (We have a great pic of Mookie from our office with Jeff Lynne Prime from a bunch of years ago at Lee's, the night Jeff wore an old school Twins blue jersey top on stage). Cake was served, the locals danced, and we even ran into a crowd member from Fairport who was in town for business. She doubted the legitimacy of our claim to also be from the 585 until we dropped a little Wegmans/Wings/Plates culture on her....and she quickly became a believer (YK). A broad reaching, mutual non-disclosure agreement brings this entry to a close. Saturday brings the longest, busiest day of TwinsFest, with 9am-6 pm show hours and predicted high of 12°, low of -8°
FRIDAY JAN 25
-9° temps greeted us this morning, and our morning chill was whisked away by the big league breakfast service at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis Downtown. Made to order omelets, a full cereal bar, coffee, tea, juice and much more awaits hotel guests each morning.
Had the chance to spend a few minutes with hotel GM Craig Scott and our contact Jason Sitte, both big Twins fans and now Wings fans after we brought them a gift bag with some new Wings merch.
Hey - was that "Warehouse Greg" from Frontier Field we just saw by the elevator? Yes for sure, Greg Sherman made the trip to experience TwinsFest as a baseball fan, and he'll be hanging out with us all weekend.
Also Seen on the Scene:
Scott and Aaron from our Class A club in Cedar Rapids are our neighbors in the affiliates section. Their club has made the playoffs each of the last six seasons, so hoping some of that good fortune rubs off on us...next to CR: the Twins' new Double-A Pensacola club. While they haven't actually played a game as the Twins' Double-A club yet, they definitely posted a W in terms of sheer size of staff and formal attire...Twins head trainer and former Wings trainer Tony Leo, strolling the hall with current Wings trainer Chris Johnson, stopping by to catch up...Twins TV voice Dick Bremer visited, and a few minutes later Twins legend Tony Oliva spent a few minutes with us and gave us the courtesy of taking a pic with him...Fan HQ and JustinMorneau.com impresario Shaun Hagglund was doing some biz at our booth, when some average Joe walked by, bundled up and knit hat pulled tight over his head. But this was no "ordinary Joe"; it was recently retired Twins superstar Joe Mauer, who greeted the Wings staff and talked about his two rehab stints with the Wings. Joe is co-hosting an exclusive white glove tour for a select group of fans tonight with Twins curator and friend of the Wings Clyde Doepner...Twins assistant GM Rob Antony talking Jucy Lucy burgers with us, as we debated the origins of the local fave which has the cheese stuffed inside the burger rather than on top...Twins Hall of Famer and retired farm director Jim Rantz stopped by to say hello and send his best wishes back to the Wings front office staff.
Nick Gordon, Lewis Thorpe and Chase De Jong all visited our booth, and stepped in front of the critical lens of our 90-Second Egg interview feature; we also talked Memphis BBQ and baseball with power hitting prospect Brent Rooker. Learn more about each of these current and future Wings when we go live with these segments in the weeks leading up to spring training.
The mystique of the Plates has made it to Minnesota. A handful of fans asked us for more information on our Thursday alternate identity, and pitcher Tyler Duffey jokingly asked if we were serving Plates at our booth. We think Tyler, a proud Texan, was "fixin'" to have a Plate for dinner tonight.
The Twins announced on Friday afternoon that former Twins right-handed pitcher Joe Nathan and former team President Jerry Bell have been elected to the club's Hall of Fame. Nathan and Bell will become the 32nd and 33rd members of the Twins Hall of Fame when they are inducted during separate, on-field pre-game ceremonies scheduled for Hall of Fame Weekend, Aug. 3-4.
Please - look at our photos from Thursday and Friday in this action packed photo gallery on our Facebook page
Thursday Jan. 24
A micro burst of snow provided a wintry drive to the airport, with "friend of the Wings" Dante "Johnny Bravo" (MN) Lynd at the wheel. Dan "knows his role" so to speak, and helped us with our bags at both ends of the ride.
The high level of early customer service continued at the United ticketing area, where our personal United rep Barry Antolos was on hand to see us off and wish us a good trip, Wings fans know Bare as one half of our talented RedWingsBaseball.com photography team, along with Joe Territo. Bare mentioned how much we'd enjoy the United Club at O'Hare and we said we'd check it out.
In-flight reading choices of our travel party: "Saint Mick" by our favorite WWE Hall of Famer, Wings fan, and Santa man Mick Foley. The non-fiction book is part jolly memoir, part whimsical ode to Mick's lifelong love affair with Christmas, and part touching tribute to finding the best of oneself in the unlikeliest of places... "The Alchemist" by Brazilian author Paolo Coelho. It tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels from his homeland of Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids.
Coincidentally, the January edition of United's magazine Hemispheres has a feature titled "The Alchemist" about French rugby legend turned winemaker Gerard Bertrand. Taking over a family vineyard, he has found international wine-making success with his Languedoc-region wines using biodynamics - basically, "a holistic farming philosophy guided by the cycles of the moon and stars that goes far beyond the merely organic." Bertrand also collaborates with rock star Jon Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi's son to create Hampton Water rose'.
This month's "Three Perfect Days" feature takes us to Bogota, Colombia - home country of former Wings All-Star 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez. We especially enjoyed the pictures and descriptions of Bogota's Paloquemao Market which has exotic fruits like cherimoya and mangosteen, rice and pork tamales, and lechona, roast pig stuffed with rice. You can find this month's issue of Hemispheres online by clicking here.
Ever had a Stroopwafel? United passengers on our flight enjoyed the delicious Dutch wafer cookie treat on our flight from from ROC to Chicago. It's a soft, toasted waffle filled with caramel, cinnamon, and real bourbon vanilla. An alert member of our travel party is a huge advocate for the Stroopwafel, and directed us to this story on how United brought back the delightful treat.
With a layover in Chicago, we took Bare's advice and checked in the United Club in Terminal F. The escalator ride up to the club had big city feel to it, and our group had a perfect location to watch other United arrivals and departures, charge up electronic devices, chat with other travelers, and enjoy a complimentary meal. Menu highlights included a local favorite: the Italian beef sandwich with au jus and giardiniera topping, along with soup, salad, an ample cheese selection (enjoyed in abundance by one member of our group - without question™), dessert, coffee and hot chocolate, and more. You can check out a photo of the bar area - and a guest enjoying his clever deconstructed Italian beef sandwich - when we post our Facebook photo gallery. And check out more info on joining the United Club, or just trying it with a one day pass, here.
One member of our group who is obsessed with how good his shoes look had a problem only a doctor could solve - and fortunately, "shoe fixologist" Dr. Randy was on duty at his stand and provided a quick remedy. We told you about Dr. Randy last year, and how many celebrity shoes he has worked on; the good doctor was still bummed out about his Bears getting edged by the Eagles in the playoffs, but said he was still planning on having his crew over for the Super Bowl.
Our first night in Minneapolis was enveloped by numbing cold, "normal" winter weather as our Uber driver told us. If -3F with wind chill close to -10 was "normal," then bravo to the hearty citizens of the Twins Cities.
We always pick a classy place to strategize, conceptualize our TwinsFest sales game plan, and our first night location came from a tip from Gene Glynn - former Wings manager and Twins third base coach, and Minnesotan.. Gene has been telling us about JD Hoyt's Supper Cub for a couple of years,, and we can now say thanks, Skip and it was great - from the high level attention from our server Kate, to the delicious "Buddy Bowl (their take on jambalaya), to the Cajun Pork Chop that two in our group dove into. Did we mention JD's is right across the street from the high end Hewing Hotel - a fact that one member of our group found hit close to home, and may or may not have taken a gratuitous pic in front of?
The TwinsFest discussion was continued at Betty Danger's Country Club, still decked out in Christmas lights and decorations. The staff was in full "Foley flannel", black and red square button down shirts - including our new bff and server Chris, a huge Mick Foley fan who was super excited to find out we had a personal connection with The Hardcore Legend himself. We mellowed out and made it an early night after a stop to hear live jazz at Dusty's, home of a delicious sausage sandwich that we'd rather not name here but can be looked up easily online.
In baseball news: popular former Red Wing and new Twins first base coach Tommy Watkins received the key to his hometown of Fort Myers on Tuesday. We last saw Tommy in the Twin Cities in September, when he was in town for the Justin Timberlake concert and the Twins' final homestand - and before he was promoted from his Double-A managing job to the big league staff. We'll see him this weekend at TwinsFest and will provide photo and video documentation of our joyous reunion...until then, check out this video report on Tommy receiving the key from Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson.
TwinsFest weekend kicked off with the Diamond Awards on Thursday night; the 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 Jake Cave, Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Kyle Gibson; Wings pitcher Lewis Thorpe was also honored with the Jim Rantz Award as Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Check out this cool infographic with all the details at TwinsBaseball.com
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 2018: Jorge Polanco, Mitch Garver, Def Leppard, Dr. Randy The Shoe Fixologist, Charlie Kelly, Stephen Gonsalves, and more
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.