Twins fans gobbled up morsels of history as the team packed up.
One last time, Twins fans clogged the concourses of the Metrodome on Saturday, this time to snap up detritus from the team's 28-year residence in the unfriendly confines of the Teflon bubble.
In preparation for their move across downtown Minneapolis to their spanking-new ballpark, the Twins held their advertised Garage Sale to unload items that have accumulated in closets and storerooms during all those years.
Thousands of fans, some arriving well before dawn, almost entirely ringed the Dome when the sale began at 10 a.m.
In the understatement of the day, a recorded message told them "a short wait may be required."
"I never would have guessed this," said Hopkins high school student Jacob Clemen as he made his way to the back of the line. "Some of the games here don't get as crowded as this."
Wearing a Joe Mauer jersey, Clemen said he hopes to land a job at Target Field next season, "but even if I don't, I definitely want to get to some games there."
After waiting outside the Dome since 4:30 a.m., Buffalo resident Ron Miller emerged triumphant a few minutes after the doors were open. His prize: a 30-foot banner commemorating the late Kirby Puckett's induction into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.
"I've been collecting Puckett stuff for 15 years, so this was a no-brainer at $100," Miller said. "This is the one thing I came here for."
For now, though, the banner is "unfortunately" destined for a closet at home because Miller said he doesn't have a big enough place to display it.
A few feet away, Centerville resident Kevin Peickert was lugging a life-sized cutout of Kent Hrbek that set him back $50. It was, he said, worth a 12-hour overnight wait.
"I knew you had to be here early to get the good stuff, because it was going to be gone right away," he said.
A fan of the Twins since their days at old Met Stadium in Bloomington, Peikert said the crowd that showed up Saturday "kind of reminds me of '87 when they clinched [the American League pennant] and everyone showed up here to welcome them home.
"That's one of my fondest memories of this place, even though it's never really been a baseball stadium. This is the same kind of crowd, people who just love the Twins."
As team employees packed up for the move to their new ballpark, they set aside anything and everything that wasn't worth moving.
Kevin Smith, the team's director of communications, was flabbergasted by the turnout. "I can't explain it," he said. "Maybe this is kind of closure for people -- we had the last game, then the 163rd, then it was all over. It's one last chance. A lot of the stuff in here really resonates for people. And if you're a collector, there's good stuff to be had."
Nearly all of it was gone when the sale ended at 4 p.m. Team officials guessed 15,000 people came to the Dome.
The stuff, most of it ephemera, was piled on folding tables along 15 sections of the Dome's concourse. By noon, the pickings had gotten pretty slim.
"Not much left but bobbleheads, Homer Hankys and refrigerator magnets," said Rusty Krentz, who drove three hours from her home in far western Minnesota to pick through the sale. "It was worth it, though."
Ball caps and straw hats went for $3, a bobblehead of TC, the team's furry mascot, cost $5. Logo-emblazoned socks: $4, and whiffle bats were $2.
At the high end were bobblehead sets of the 1965 American League champs, which fetched a cool $400. Another bobblehead collection of the entire roster of the 1987 World Series champions (including an erroneously left-handed Greg Gagne) cost $350.
Ben Golnik, a political consultant from St. Paul, gladly forked over the latter sum. "It's a serious collectable, and at, what, $17 a doll really isn't that expensive," he said.
Kaity Hall was headed home to Cold Spring with several framed photos and "basically just too much stuff to carry out of here. I bought it because I'm really going to miss this place.
"You always knew you could get a ticket to a game here and you could afford it, so I'm really not looking forward to the new place, to be frank about it. You need to get a sitter and then come down here and end up rained out? That's definitely not cool with me."
Bob von Sternberg • 612-673-7184
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