Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Welcome to 6-4-3, Twins fans

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins fans Updated: February 13, 2013 - 7:15 AM

     So anyway, as I was saying when we were cut off ...
     Welcome to the 6-4-3 blog. I'm in Fort Myers to cover spring training for the first time in four years, and it's hard to believe it's been that long. My stint covering the Twins for the Pioneer Press was cut short in mid-2009 when my lack of union seniority proved fatal during a round of layoffs in St. Paul. But I've circled back, this time across the river, and when all-star beat writer Joe Christensen decided his life needed fewer 10-day road trips -- Joe named this blog for me, a pretty good indication of where his mind is at after eight stellar seasons covering the Twins -- I jumped at the chance to watch baseball for a living again. Bonus: No more Metrodome!
     My perspective, I hope you'll come to agree, is as a baseball fan, interested and amused by the daily routine of the game. Living out west, I've attended every Colorado Rockies home opener (except for the years I covered the Twins). I've sat in the stands for games at 52 major-league stadiums, and have attended, mostly by buying tickets on the street, at least a game or two of every World Series since 1986. Yes, I was there, in the upper deck behind the Twins' dugout, when Kirby homered in 1991, the loudest crowd I've ever heard in my life. I'm one of you, and I hope you recognize that sensibility in my stories.
     I start my new beat today, as the understudy/partner of walking Twins encyclopedia La Velle E. Neal III, and I'll be providing coverage of spring training here. Please come back often for Twins news, updates, lineups, observations, analysis, and discussion. I can also be found on Twitter @MillerStrib.
     But before we start the Twins' 2013 journey, and in the spirit of fandom, let me begin with one of the coolest fan stories I've come across in awhile. It's about a Chicago native, and nominal White Sox fan, named Tony Swann.
     If you attended either of the past two TwinsFests, you may have met Tony, may have stopped in front of his booth. He had an eye-catching sign, a brightly colored banner reading "Buying Your Ticket Stubs for Cash." But it wasn't clear to most passers-by what he was doing.
     That's because, unlike every other dealer on the Metrodome floor, Swann wasn't trying to make money. Quite the contrary -- he's spent thousands of dollars to accomplish something that honestly won't mean a thing to anyone but him.
     Swann became a big fan of Carlton Fisk when the Hall of Fame catcher played for the White Sox, and soon began collecting a lot of Fisk memorabilia. He's got programs, bats, autographs, baseball cards -- all the usual stuff. But about a decade ago, he embarked upon a project that only a fan could understand. He decided to collect a ticket stub to every game Fisk ever played.
     A lot of collectors focus on objects that grow in value as they get older; baseball cards from decades, for instance, can be pretty valuable. But tickets stubs? Gathered in a collection as specific as this one? Not so much.
     But that hasn't stopped Swann. Fisk played 2,499 games over 24 seasons, starting with a two-game audition for the Red Sox in 1969. Swann has stubs from those games, and hundreds more. In fact, counting the six stubs he acquired at TwinsFest -- a haul that made the $450 he paid for the booth space, plus travel expenses, well worth it, he said -- Swann now owns used tickets from 2,322 of them, leaving just 177 to go.
     Thirty of them are from games played in Metropolitan Stadium and the Metrodome. That's not bad, considering Fisk played in 90 games in Minnesota during his career. But only Texas, with 33 missing games, has been tougher for Swann to find. The reason: During the 1970s and 80s, Twins' tickets had the team's logo and opponent printed on the main ticket, but it was torn off as fans entered the stadium, leaving them with just a rain-check stub, an inch and a half-long scrap of paper that didn't say "Twins" or "baseball" or anything. Most Minnesota stubs have only the date, the seat number and "Metropolitan Stadium" printed on them, so nondescript that most fans undoubtedly tossed them in the trash.
     So Swann's been coming to TwinsFest for two years, mostly just to hand out slick postcards with his "want list" printed on them to Twins fans, in hopes someone comes across a stub or two from 1976 in their attic. Now that's a dedicated collector.
     Swann has met another collector who set out to buy a stub from every game of Cal Ripken's consecutive-game streak, and another who collects stubs from every no-hitter ever thrown in the major leagues, and he's joined forces with them to find old tickets. But his quest strikes me as the most amazing, considering how hard he's working at it -- and how basically worthless, except to him, the complete set will be. He's got stubs from a few spring training games that Fisk played in, too, plus a few minor-league games, and even a New Hampshire state basketball tournament game from when Fisk was in high school. But it's those 2,499 regular-season games that keep him searching websites, contacting memorabilia dealers, and driving to Minnesota to hand out postcards.
     You can see his entire collection, and find his "Need 'em" list, at his website: BuyingOldTickets.com.
     I can't say I'm as insanely driven as Swann -- but I'm a fan, too. I'd like 6-4-3 to be a place where we share our experiences as fans, from going to Target Field to debating the new leadoff hitter.
     There are players hitting baseballs down on the field. Let's get started.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
UCLA 72
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the hockey season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT