Hundreds of Twins fans were left empty-handed and infuriated Saturday after a server problem snarled online ticket purchases for what team officials insisted were a "relatively small" number on the first day of single-game ticket sales.
Fans deluged the site for tickets in unprecedented numbers, then stormed Twitter and Facebook to vent about waiting for hours to purchase tickets, only to be greeted by a "white screen of death" when they reached the front of the virtual line.
"Livid does not begin to describe how I am feeling at this moment," Laura Foster posted on the Twins' Facebook page. "Waiting for hours and wasting an entire day with nothing to show for it -- what is the matter with your ticket office?"
Despite the problem, tickets were still selling at a pace about 20,000 ahead of last year, said Kevin Smith, the team's executive director of public affairs -- demand not seen since the 1987 World Series.
Server glitches and repairs on the ticket-ordering website appeared to kick customers out of their place in line starting at noon. At first, team officials said those greeted by a white screen had not lost their place. But at 4 p.m., Smith said that was no longer the case and that fans running into the glitch would have to start over again.
Smith estimated that only a few hundred users encountered the problem, one he said that originated with the Twins' online ticketing partner, Tickets.com. He said that it was too early to tell whether the problem was the result of heavy demand but that it was probably a combination of demand and technical issues.
Nicholas Kelly of Bloomington said he and his wife got online on separate computers starting at 9:30 a.m. only to encounter frozen screens when they got to the front of the line. Six hours later, he was still clicking "refresh" with no results.
"I'm beating my head against the wall," Kelly said. "It blows my mind thinking about how they're fighting so hard to get re-salers from selling tickets, and now I don't know how I'm going to buy tickets."
Said Smith: "People need to be patient. ... If it feels kind of lonely sitting at your computer by yourself at home, remember, you're not alone."
In addition to the online queue and phone sales handled by 68 operators, hundreds of people waited in long lines at Target Field for tickets.
Smith encouraged metro residents to come to Target Field to get tickets. Although windows officially closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, they stayed open to accommodate those still in line at that time.
More than 100,000 tickets were sold during last week's presale to season-ticket holders. It's too soon to tell how many were sold Saturday, Smith said. He discounted Facebook rumors that many games are sold out, saying "hundreds of thousands of tickets" remain, though it may be tougher to obtain them for plum games.
"This is not a sky-is-falling scenario," he said.
The Twins' ticket office and phone lines (1-800-33-TWINS or 612-338-9467) will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921