FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins meet a lot of baseball fans, but this one was different. He’s a knowledgeable Atlanta Braves fan whose favorite player was Mark Lemke. He’s a proud father of two young sons. He’s gracious with his time, and friendly to strangers. “A really nice guy who just wanted to hang out and talk,” Brian Dozier said of Wednesday night’s encounter.
Oh, and he’s also one of the most successful pop stars of all time: Sir Elton John.
Dozer, Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe and Phil Hughes, plus their wives (or in Hughes’ case, his fiancee) and Mauer’s parents and in-laws, were treated to front-row seats to the superstar’s two-and-a-half-hour concert at nearby Germain Arena. Even better: They spent about 15 minutes in his dressing room before the show, talking about baseball, family and music.
“People were saying, ‘He’s a big baseball fan.’ I was like, ‘C’mon. He’s from England,’ “ said a skeptical Plouffe. “Sure enough, he’s lived in the south for 20 years. He watched the Braves. That’s how he learned about baseball. He was really insightful about sports in general.”
John, who turns 69 in two weeks, also talked about his two young sons, 5-year-old Zachary and 3-year-old Elijah. “He’s very proud of them,” said Mauer, who met John once before, with Justin Morneau, at another south Florida concert. “He was showing us pictures of them.”
The players also chatted with D.C. Parmet, John’s tour accountant who arranged for the seats, and the meeting. Parmet once lived in St. Paul, and became a big Twins fan — so big, in fact, that he has the team’s logo tattooed on his stomach. Elton said he can tell how [the Twins] are doing based on DC’s attitude,” Plouffe said.
Then John put on what all four players describe as a fantastic show. “He was incredible. He’s 68 years old and he has more energy than I’ve seen from anyone in a long time,” Plouffe said.
“I’m not a super fan. I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Hughes said. “But it was really good. “And he was really nice, down to earth.”
He even dedicated one of his hits — “Your Song” — to the Twins during the show.
“Best concert I’ve ever seen,” Dozier said.
Johnny boy pic.twitter.com/o8QJA93IJo— Phil Hughes (@PJHughes45) March 10, 2016
The Twins bused up the road to jetBlue Park for today’s game, where they will face their old Detroit (and Toronto and Tampa Bay, too) nemesis, David Price. Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios will pitch for the Twins. Here’s the Minnesota lineup:
D. Santana LF
E. Santana RHP