Rand: The Dome's last stand

  • Updated: July 2, 2013 - 11:09 PM
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Two American Legion teams — Viroqua and Sturgeon Bay — played the final baseball game in the Metrodome on Tuesday. The field will be set up for football for the rest of the short life it has before being demolished.

Photo: MICHAEL RAND, Star Tribune

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Viroqua and Sturgeon Bay split an American Legion baseball doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon. This would not be news normally, if not for this: Game 2 of the twin bill, which ended around 5 p.m., marked the very last baseball game that will ever be played in the Metrodome.

Yes, both of those teams are from Wisconsin — Sturgeon Bay is only about 45 miles from Green Bay — meaning our rivals to the east, barring something crazy and unforseen, will always have that claim to fame.

When he reserved the field months ago, Sturgeon Bay coach George Husby said he never even considered it could be the last game at the Dome. But he and his players thought it was pretty cool, even as they sweated through the stale, hot indoor air.

“They used to turn the air conditioning on for us when the Twins were here, but we don’t mind,” said Husby, who has been coaching Legion baseball since 1966 and has brought numerous teams to the Dome. “We feel as though it is a treat for the kids to come down.”

Both teams took full advantage of their time. They had the space rented until 6 p.m., so they stayed around after the official games ended and kept playing. A Sturgeon Bay hitter socked a ball into the gap, and teammates urged him to try for an inside-the-park-homer (he stayed at third). Viroqua added an interesting twist, playing an all-lefthanded infield during the extra time.

And then it was over forever. Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority spokeswoman Jenn Hathaway said the pitching mound will be removed Wednesday. Soon thereafter, the field will be reconfigured for football — never to return to baseball as the Dome is set to be demolished early in 2014 after the Vikings’ season ends.

The Twins, of course, opened play there in 1982, won a pair of World Series in 1987 and 1991 thanks to a combined 8-0 home record against St. Louis and Atlanta, then suffered through a mid-to-late-1990s drought before a resurgence. The Twins’ final game in the Metrodome was Oct. 11, 2009, a playoff loss to (who else?) the Yankees.

Amateur teams have continued to use it since then, until Tuesday when those Wisconsin foes squared off.

And now, we’ll no longer see you tomorrow night.

MICHAEL RAND

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