Despite starting their season 5-7 after a long West Coast road trip, the Twins returned to Metropolitan Stadium 40 years ago Wednesday the hottest team in baseball – and not because they thumped former teammates Rod Carew, Danny Ford and the California Angels 8-1.
They were that hottest team because of a home opener played in a furnace wind on a 90-degree day that remains a club record for home openers played outdoors.
It was part of a memorable day-night doubleheader for Minnesota sports fans, many of whom headed home and watched live from Montreal. They watched the young North Stars’ Game 5 loss that night in a second-round playoff series they’d win five days later on Al MacAdam’s late goal in Game 7 over the four-time defending Stanley Cup champion Canadiens.
A University of Minnesota freshman too tempted by the unusual weather forecast, I skipped class and joined 36,267 like-minded others out in Bloomington on a Tuesday afternoon.
One day after Manhattan office worker Rosie Ruiz “won” the women’s Boston Marathon, many Twins fans went shirtless and some unhappily went thirsty because of too few vendors roaming the grandstands.
My theory for playing hooky: When’s it going to be 90 degrees again in April for a Twins home opener, the second-to-last at Met Stadium?
No, that's not Jerry Zgoda. Brian Granberg of Minneapolis brought his 7-month-old daughter to the home opener in 1980. (John Croft photo.)
Answer: Never, not even after the team moved into Target Field 30 years later.
When public-address announcer Bob Casey asked fans to stand and sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch, second-deck fans chanted “We want beer!”
Twins pitcher Geoff Zahn threw a six-hit complete game that day and Roy Smalley’s two-run, first-inning homer stood as the winner while pasty Minnesotans freed from winter sunburned.
“It was the most pleasant 90 degrees I’ve ever been in,” Twins first baseman Mike Cubbage told reporters after a game played in a 25-mile an hour breeze. “With the wind, it was just gorgeous.”