Guest poster Ryan "Goose" Nissley is a rookie radio DJ in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Originally from the verdant paradise of Bloomfield, Montana (population 7), he was schooled at Northwestern College in Saint Paul. He enjoys small town life, simplicity, and the twisted look of frustration on the face of a Tigers' fan upon hearing the phrases, 'Carlos Gomez' and 'Game 163'.
The sounds of celebration rang through the brisk night air, unheard by all but any rabbits or rodents camped out nearby. Ensconced in the cab of my Dad's GMC grain truck, I was heartily cheering a Doug Mientkiewicz line drive that pulled the Twins ahead in the late innings. The game was being played hundreds of miles to the east, under a splendid bag of a roof in Minneapolis. The joy of the contest, though, was as real to me that night as if were downing a Dome Dog - thanks to the musical narrative of John Gordon's voice travelling across all that prarie via WCCO.
I was designated to man the grain truck, waiting to deliver a full load of golden grain to a bin a short distance away. Waiting for my Dad to make a pass fully around our wheat field in his John Deere combine may not seem like the most enjoyable way to spend the lion's share of a fall night. But night after night during the harvest seasons of my youth, I looked forward to it. Especially when I knew the Twins would be playing. There was something about being alone under that impossibly bright night sky - glittering with stars - and being transported to nine innings of always unpredictable baseball drama that was just remarkable.
Growing up on an Eastern Montana farm taught you about hewing an existence out of often pesky land with weather conditions that would never be confused with ideal. It made it easy to identify with a Minnesota Twins team facing hopelessly better financed teams in far more luxurious and enviable digs.
The nearest metropolitan area to my family's home was the teeming settlement of Bloomfield - population 7 and home to only a post office and Cenex gas station. The lack of population built an appreciation for the small town Minnesota squad battling the urban jungle dwellers from New York and Boston. It was just natural to cheer for hardscrabble, relative no-namers like Koskie, Radke, and yes - even Lew Ford - when they went up against the baseball barons of Jeter, Clemens, and A-Rod.
In those grain fields, we were an extended, albeit somewhat unconventional, part of Twins Territory.
Those late harvest nights kindled a love for radio that's set me on a fledgling career in broadcasting and carried me far from Eastern Montana's praries. The bond forged with the Twins has remained strong, however. I whooped with glee in the improbable playoff runs in '04 and '06, and my stomach turned and my nose curled with angst at our losses to the vile Yankees in the post-season.
But no matter the outcome of the game, hearing John Gordon paint the pictures of summer always takes me back to the truck cab and the wheat field where the magic of baseball captured me for good.
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