The scoreboard at the then-new Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome welcomes Twins fans in April 1982. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)
As the Minnesota Twins prepare to officially open their new home, Target Field, next week in an Opening Day matchup against Boston, we take a look back at the last time the Twins moved into new digs.
When the Metrodome opened, the Twins played a couple of exhibition games to “test” the new facility. The first official game played at the new venue was on April 6, 1982, against Seattle. News Tribune reporter Mark Stodghill was there; here’s his account of the game as published in the April 7, 1982 paper:
The largest crowd ever to watch a baseball game in Minnesota, 52,279, will remember the Tuesday night the Minnesota Twins met the Seattle Mariners to officially christen the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for major league baseball.
They’ll remember seeing Pearl Bailey singing the national anthem like no one else can. They’ll remember Muriel Humphrey Brown looking proud as punch as she threw out the ceremonial first ball in the park named after her late husband.
But what real fans will remember most is a couple of rookies — Seattle’s Jim Maier and the Twins’ Gary Gaetti. Maier, a 24-year-old first baseman, had three hits, including his first major league home run, and drove in five runs to lead Seattle to an 11-7 victory over the Twins.
Gaetti’s numbers were almost as impressive as the crowd total. The 23-year-old third baseman went 4-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI. He came within a foot of the fence of hitting three homers and almost legged that near-miss into an inside-the-park home run, but was nailed at the plate and had to settle for a triple.
The Hump had been billed as a hitter’s park and that’s just what it was on Opening Day. …
Gaetti led the 11-hit Twins parade. Rookie teammate Kent Hrbek added two hits and two RBI and Dave Engle and Mickey Hatcher added two hits apiece for the losers. …
Twins starter Pete Redfern was the losing pitcher. Redfern pitched the first five innings and gave up six hits, five runs. He struck out two and walked one. …
The fans, who seemed in awe of the whole place, or perhaps worried about how they were going to get out and find their cars, came to life for one of the few times when Gaetti hit a leadoff homer over the right-field fence in the seventh.
Gaetti, Bailey’s national anthem and an announcement that no smoking was allowed in the stadium drew the most reaction from the fans. Most of the rest of the time they didn’t seem to know how to act. They didn’t clap much except when two hands were flashed clapping together together on the scoreboard and then it seemed like just token applause.
Hrbek brought them to life a final time with a two-run single in the eighth, but that was the end of the fireworks. Well, not quite. Someone from the first base boxes threw a cherry bomb on the field. “That wasn’t too smart,” public address announcer Bob Casey piped.
The Twins’ locker room at the Metrodome, April 1982. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)
A couple of days earlier, after one of the exhibition games, Stodghill also had this report on the new clubhouses at the Metrodome:
TWINS FIND DUGOUT TOO FAR FROM COFFEE SUPPLY
By Mark Stodghill, News-Tribune staff writer
It took a lot of thought, But Minnesota Twins coach and hitting instructor Jim Lemon found something he didn’t like about the brand-spanking-new Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome which opened for indoor baseball over the weekend.
"I haven’t found a thing yet that I don’t like about this place. I haven’t seen an airplane in two days. That other place (open-aired Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington) was ‘zoom-zoom’ all day long," Lemon said initially.
"Oh, I’ll tell you something," he added. "The dugout is too far away from the clubhouse and the coffee pot."
The Twins clubhouse, one of four locker rooms located under the Metrodome’s infield stands, is a distance away from the playing field – four flights and 44 stairs away. "My pitchers will get in shape just walking to and from the clubhouse," Twins pitching coach Johnny Podres said.
When it’s considered that it took $55 million to build the Metrodome and that $2.5 was spent on a prodigal scoreboard, the Twins clubhouse is almost austere. It isn’t any more luxurious than their dressing facilities at Metropolitan Stadium. Even less so when it’s considered the old place had a sauna. The new locker room does not.
Kent Hrbek’s locker at the Metrodome, April 1982. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)
The home baseball team’s dressing cove underneath "The Hump" is functional. There is the main locker room for the players with 40 open wire lockers. One of the snafus is that the lockers were built with oak benches in them. The problem is that if the players sit on the benches, their heads end up in the legs of their pants hanging from the rack. …
Twins equipment manager Ray Crump ordered red, white and blue beach chairs, and the players sit in front of their blue lockers, not in them. …
"This clubhouse is about the same size as the one at Metropolitan Stadium, but I had more storage room at the other place," Crump said. "The best thing about this place is that I won’t have to move out 25 times like I did last summer for the Vikings and Kicks. This belongs to us."
The Vikings will have their own clubhouse, there is another one for visiting teams and the fourth will be used by the Minnesota Gopher football team if it plays in the Dome. …
Among the staples in the Twins clubhouse are two types of tap beer, bottled and canned pop, candy, leaf tobacco, snuff and plenty of bubble gum – all kinds, even pouches of Big League Chew, shredded pink strips imitating tobacco.
But the dugouts are situated far enough away that not many players are going to have time to sneak up and fill their pockets with goodies like they did in the old days at the Met.
Here are some more photos of the Metrodome from its construction and grand opening… check back later this week for some archive photos of its predecessor, Metropolitan Stadium:
Construction work continues on the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in this view from May 1981. It hosted the Twins opener in April 1982. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)
There was snow outside… but warm conditions inside for the first baseball games at the Metrodome in April 1982. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)
Twins fans check out the menu and prices at a Metrodome concession stand in April 1982. (Jack Rendulich / News-Tribune)
Share your Metrodome memories by posting a comment.
– Andrew Krueger