Before leaving Kansas City, we had one last stop to do. We told you, in our last report, about the Kansas City Monarchs: most famous team of the Negro Leagues. This is why, and Kansas City, you can visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Warning, this is not a baseball hall of fame for afro American players. If an afro American player deserves to be in a hall of fame, he should be in Cooperstown.
The museum is located in the historical district ok Kansa City and shares the same building as the Jazz museum of Kansas City. When entering the museum, you see a baseball field and statues of players but they are all behind a fence and you cannot access them until the end of the tour. It is to represent the path of the segregated players. A video presentation gives us more information about the Negro Leagues creation and development and the big names that played for those teams.
We loved to read about how Rube Foster created that league in a YMCA not too far from the museum, how Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier (thanks to the Montreal Royaux) and how Buck O’Neil became an icon in the world of Baseball. We had the chance to meet Bob Kendrick: the museum president. Bob told us about the autographed baseball by Negro league player’s collection. Geddy Lee, member of the Canadian music group: Rush, bought them at an auction and gave them to the museum. Like us, Lee fell in love with the museum during a visit in Kansas City.
We asked Bob Kendrick what was the heritage of the Negro Leagues in baseball today. Yes people are acknowledging the big names that were in the Negro Leagues and how the league opened doors for great players that came to the Major league. On the other side, Bob admitted that the number of Afro American players in the Major Leagues have went down in the last years (around 7% today). Also, young afro Americans are not playing as much baseball as they used to do. Bob Kendrick’s job is to make sure people don’t forget about that league that, before the color barrier was broken, was as good as the major league. Bob told us that something sad is that so many great players like Satchel Paige never got their shot in the big leagues and we’ll never know what they could’ve done out there. A big thank you to Bob for meeting with us, we love your museum!
We left Kansas City towards Minnesota. We didn’t had a lot of time, our schedule is pretty much packed: We were in Denver for a game on last Monday, in Kansas City for a Wednesday game, in Minneapolis for Friday’s game, we’ll be in Milwaukee for a Sunday afternoon game and finally in Chicago on Monday to see the White Sox! We love it!
We had a few hours to kill before getting to Target Field for the Twins game so we stopped in a Minneapolis Suburb to see the Mall of America: the largest mall in the United States. Appart from a lot of stores out there you can find a full theme park with rollercoasters and games and an aquarium to vist!
Next stop, we got to Minneapolis to discover the Minnehaha waterfall. This Water fall is 53 feet high and is directly connected to the Mississippi River (River that we crossed earlier in our trip in Mississippi!). The City of Minneapolis is well known for its Parks and lakes. In this park, we also saw the house of the founder of Minneapolis. It’s known to be the first house west of Mississippi.
We arrived early at Target Field to grab a good meal around and to walk around the park before gates opening. The Target Field is a young ballpark: it was opened in 2010. It replaced the old Metrodome that they used to share with the Minnesota Vikings (NFL team).
Target field is a unique ballpark just by its exterior. Instead of going with bricks for the outside walls, like many ballparks, they went with Limestone. It gives the ballpark a nice sand color from outside. Next to the ballpark, they built a multi levels parking lot and they covered it with a veil that moves with the wind and is animated with lights at night: prettier than just a parking lot! Around the ballpark and on Target Plaza, we saw many pictures and statues of former players and team pioneers. There is also a timeline showing the different homes of the baseball teams in Minnesota.
Target Field hosted the 2014 All Star game. For the occasion, they brought back a great classic of American baseball: Peanuts! Outside the park we saw statues of Charlie Brown, Franklin, Lucy, Peppermint Patty and Snoopy with his food bowl! It was a great success and the fans loved it! Hosting the all-star game is always an honor and fans always buy tickets at big prices, especially when it’s Derek Jeter’s last year in the MLB.
Inside, we observed the different things that make Target Field a unique ballpark. The ballpark is very ‘’green’’. Every night, trash is sorted by hand to make sure they take out all the recyclable materials. Also, rain water is kept through a drainage system, filtered and reused for watering the field and for toilets. It is considered to be the greenest ballpark in America.
The food and beer choice is very local at Target Field. You can try the famous ‘’Jucy Lucy’’: a cheeseburger with the cheese inside the patty instead of on top of it. One of the bars has the floor that used to be played on by the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA team). On the suites level, there are displays that show the process of building Target Field. Also there is a glass casing with the ‘’firsts’’ of the ballpark: first base used, first hit ball, first home run ball, etc.
Our visit wasn’t too long so we headed to the bleachers to try to catch a ball during batting practice. Jason Grilli, a relief pitcher for the Angels, noticed our expos hats and talked with us about baseball in Montreal. He remembers the Olympic Stadium since it is where he hit his only career home run in 2001 when he was playing for the Marlins! Jason was very nice to us and to the fans in the bleachers by answering questions and taking pictures with kids. He gave us a ball and signed it! Our first ball of the tour! Big thanks to Jason, very classy player!
From our seats, we looked over for the other special features of the ballpark. One of these features is that under the roof that covers the seats on the upper deck, they installed soffits instead of leaving a view for steel beams or concrete. We also observed the Budweiser deck, a bar with standing room where people can check the game at left field. We visited a bar situated on the upper deck right behind home plate where fans can order drinks and check the game in an atmosphere that we usually find on the lower levels. This bar doesn’t require a special ticket and is open to all! We appreciate that as fans that cannot afford 65$ tickets!
The ballpark was supposed to be built as neutral: no advantage to the batters or to the pitchers. We realized that, during the game, that the ballpark was advantaging the pitchers since it’s seemed hard to get the ball out of the park. Also, the wall seemed unpredictable when the ball bounced off it. The outfielders were having a bit of trouble.
Baseball time, the Angels, best team in baseball, were playing against the Twins the, who are almost eliminated from the post season race. The pitchers were Matt Shoemaker (Angels) and Ricky Nolasco (Twins). Twins had a rough start: an error from Trevor Plouffe right in the 1st inning would lead to Kole Calhoun scoring: 1-0 Angels. Twins will tie the game right away on a sacrifice fly. Both teams will exchange runs in the 2nd inning. The Twins run coming off a homerun from Oswaldo Arcia. Same thing in the 4th: one run on each side and we are tied 3-3. Twins will take the lead for the first time in the game in the 6th on an Aaron Hicks single. In the 8th, Angels would get the lead again with doubles from Calhoun and Trout: 6-4 Angels. It seemed the game was over but with 2 men on bases and 2 outs, Trevor Plouffe hit a long double off the wall that would tie the game and we are off to extra innings! Twins pitchers looked exhausted tonight and they already had used 8 of them when Jared Burton came to the mound in the 10th. Erick Aybar would with a sacrifice fly that would score 1 run: 7-6 Angels. Kevin Jespen came to the mound for the Angels to finish it off. All three Twins hit ground balls and Angels would win it 7-6. Play of the game: a catch off the wall from Jordan Schafer for the 3rd out of the 9th inning! Video here!
We have to say we were hoping for a big crowd on this Friday night. We realized, a few minutes before the first pitch, there were not a lot of fans out there… They still announced that 23,000 people went to see the game that day. We can say that we were not that much during the 7th inning and that, during the 10th inning, we were less than 8,000 in the ballpark. We asked our usher where all the fans were. He told us that it was the first high school football Friday night so a lot of people were out for football. Also, it is obvious that, with their record, the Twins are not dragging that much fans to the ballpark right now. When we asked him to describe us the fans, he told us that, comparing to other baseball parks, the fans were taking great interest when they were at the ballgame. We looked over in the stands and we saw a lot of fans that looked disappointed by their team’s record but they were still rooting for the Twins. We also saw the Friday night crowd: getting to their seats with a beer in their hand during the 3rd inning and out by the 7th inning!
When we left the ballpark, we saw that the public transport around Target Field is well arranged. Also, for fans that came by car like us, skywalks were allowing us to go back to the parking lots without walking in the streets. We saw that the neighborhood around was developing with the ballpark and the close by arena but we still found that a few streets didn’t look too much safe.
Our visit in Minneapolis was shot but nice. We really appreciated the ballpark and it gave us hope that, in Montreal, we could get an open roof ballpark since the weather in Minnesota is not too different than the one in Montreal. One of the employees told us about some games being snowed out earlier this season! People were all nice and we always get asked the two same questions: are you guys really from Montreal and Are you guys rooting for the Nats! Twins have a good baseball history and great fans. We wish them good luck for the last few weeks of the season!
Next stop: Miller Park and the Brewers in Milwaukee.
P.S. Did you knew that the big sign that representing two men shaking hands over the Mississippi river is honoring the two minor baseball teams that used to be in Minnesota before the Twins? The Saint Paul Saints and the Minneapolis Millers!