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.

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New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 90 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan

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