When Kent Hrbek scans the bleachers at Target Field, he sees something of a revolution.
Beyond the blue skies yawning through the stadium's steel frame -- the very antithesis of the stifled Metrodome the former Twins great was accustomed to playing in -- Hrbek notices another major change, and one he sees as a fully sprouted version of the seed he and his teammates planted back in the 1987 and '91 World Series.
There are Twins caps everywhere.
"Baseball wasn't a hot topic then like it is around here now," said Hrbek of the '91 season, when in some ways he said he felt the team needed to rebuild their fan base after the last-place 1990 finish for the Twins scattered some of the momentum they'd gained after winning in '87.
"But I think we were the start of it," he said. "People started wearing Twins hats a little bit back then, where you'd never see one before. And now the whole crowd is wearing them."
It began, Hrbek said, in '87, when the Twins delivered to a city that was "pretty starved for a championship team" after the Vikings had lost four times in the Super Bowl and Minneapolis hadn't seen much else in the way of big-time sports success (outside of the Minneapolis Lakers).
After disappointing in 1989 and '90, the Dome atmosphere quieted a little. But that would soon change again as a team Hrbek said he always saw as stronger than the '87 version stormed the playoffs and relit the home crowd.
"It was rocking," said Hrbek of the Metrodome. "When the postseason started, the fans were starved and they needed to let it out and vent, and they did. And it raised the hair on the back of your neck when you walked out of the dugout. Some of the camera men, they had earplugs in. I mean, it was a different atmosphere -- it was electric."
Despite the spillover of energy and the pressure that should come with a series that went seven games and had five one-run games, Hrbek said the team played with such a calm disposition on the field that year.
It's a different story now. Hrbek has been truly retired since his show, "Kent Hrbek Outdoors" went off the air two years ago after running for six seasons. He said he relishes the chance to really, truly unwind after a long, hectic career.
But off the field and seated on his Bloomington couch or in the stadium makes him "wish [he] was playing again" -- perhaps adding to the sea of navy and red with his own Twins cap -- all the relaxing he's intent on achieving goes out the window.
"When we were playing, we had this peace," he said. "But now, I'm the worst. I can't watch because I've got no control. I get more nervous watching them than I did when I was playing."