The Twins are approaching their golden anniversary here. The Metrodome, beloved by some and be-hated by others, is more than a quarter-century old. But whenever a new season rolls around at the Humpdome, all manner of "What's up with that?" queries surface. Get your answers, get your red-hot answers right here ...


those two goofy guys in the Twins logo?

That's a modified version of the original design when the team moved here from Washington before the 1961 season. There had been a bitter rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul over which city would land the area's first big-league sports franchise. It got more heated when Minneapolis leaders helped get Met Stadium built on their side of the river (in Bloomington) in the mid-1950s.

"The logo was designed to promote brotherhood between the two cities, which didn't exist in 1961," said Clark Griffith, son of then-Twins owner Calvin Griffith. "There was real animosity. This was a time before interstate highways linking the two cities. They were like islands 10 miles apart."

So the team's first logo had one player bearing an "M" on his sleeve and the other an "StP" on his chest, shaking hands across a river. The emblem was tweaked to make a map of the state the backdrop in 1972, then dropped in 1987. The team resuscitated the players for an anniversary emblem in 2000 and as an alternate logo in 2002.

A few side notes:

• For years the Minneapolis Tribune ran an image of the twins in its masthead the day after every game -- smiling if the team had won, crying if it had lost.

• The Twins were the first team in any major professional sports league to bear the name of a state rather than a city. Calvin Griffith originally wanted to call them the Twin Cities Twins but changed his mind.


that insipid (but oddly catchy) tune that seems like some kind of fight song?

That would be "We're Gonna Win Twins," a collaboration between Ray Charles (not the Ray Charles) and Dick Wilson (not the Dick Wilson, at least not the recently deceased Dick Wilson who played Mr. Whipple in those "Don't Squeeze the Charmin" ads).

Semi-funny thing about that song: It started out as a Hamm's beer commercial with these lyrics:

Sing out for Hamm's beer,

Sing out the name,

Sing out for Hamm's beer,

Of sky blue waters fame

Wilson, an ad exec and jingle writer whose most familiar work might be "Let's All Go to the Dairy Queen," composed the music. Ad agency Campbell Mithun sold it to the fledgling Twins for a buck, which the famously penurious owner Griffith probably grumbled about as too spendy. The team enlisted the "other" Ray Charles -- who headed the Ray Charles Singers and whose best-known vocal performance came later with the theme song for TV's "Three's Company" -- to rework the lyrics. The result:

We're gonna win, Twins

We're gonna score

We're gonna win, Twins

Watch that baseball soar.

Crack out a home run

Shout a hip-hooray

Cheer for the Minnesota Twins today!

By the way, this year marks the 100th anniversary for another ditty heard at every Twins contest, seventh-inning-stretch staple "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."


all the jargon in the stands?

There probably could be a semester-long course called Baseball as a Second Language, given how much lingo is tossed around by fans. Here's a crash course:

• A "gopher ball" has nothing to do with the local university's feisty rodent mascot; it's a pitch that results in a home run and might have started as a contraction of "go far."

• A "brushback pitch" is close enough to make the batter move to avoid being "plunked," and a "knockdown pitch" actually sends the batter sprawling to the ground. A "beanball" strikes a batter in the head.

• A "southpaw" is a left-handed thrower or batter, but don't call a rightie a "northpaw." A "utility man" can't fix your plumbing but can play a number of positions in the field.

• A "can of corn" is a high popup, derived from the old grocery-store practice of using a pole to grab or tip off just such an item from a high shelf.

• A "Texas Leaguer" is more of a "bloop" and lands safely between fielders.

• The ground-ball version of a Texas Leaguer, a softly hit ball that squirts between infielders, is called a "squibber" or a "seeing-eye ball" (a potentially un-PC term for a hit that "blindly" finds its way to the outfield).

• A ball that hits just in front of the plate and bounces high enough for the batter to reach first base is a "Baltimore chop," named after the 1880s Baltimore teams that mastered the practice. An "at 'em" ball is struck harder, but results in an out because it goes straight to a fielder.


the music played when a batter comes up or a pitcher enters the game?

They're called "walk-up songs," and Twins music director/DJ Kevin Dutcher consults with the players on their choices. "The ones that care pick a song, and the ones that don't care let me do it," said Dutcher. "It's probably about half and half."

Players do have the option of changing a song if they're in a slump -- baseball players are notoriously superstitious -- or just want something fresher.

"Joe [Mauer] and Justin [Morneau] changed their songs two or three times last year," said Dutcher. "In the old days Jacque Jones would give me four songs he wanted to hear in the proper order, and David [Ortiz] always had two or three songs going."

One player who stuck with the same tune throughout the 2007 season was All-Star pitcher Joe Nathan, for whom "Stand Up" was a particularly fitting choice, given how often he shut down opponents to bring the fans to their feet. Other walk-up songs from last year:

• Jason Kubel, Rage Against the Machine's "Gorilla Radio"

• Mauer, T.I.'s "Big Things Poppin' "

• Morneau, AC/DC's "Rock 'n' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution"

• Nick Punto, Devo's "Whip It"


all that plastic?

Well, the green stuff the players are running around on isn't plastic, but FieldTurf. In 2004, the new surface replaced the sproingy Astroturf -- basically a ¼-inch carpet atop a concrete slab -- that had wrought many Superball-type bounces and untold wear and tear on the players' bodies.

Out in right field are two odd bits of tarp. The outfield wall is semi-affectionately known as "The Baggie," its forgiving surface allowing fielders to chase fly balls more aggressively than they otherwise might.

In the upper deck, a humongous off-white fabric covers up several thousand empty seats (except on Opening Night and a few other lucrative games). When this eye-popping panel appeared in 1996, local wag Patrick Reusse dubbed the area behind it "The Casbah."

"The dictionary definition of casbah is the older, Arab portion of a North African city. From here, a casbah has been viewed as a center for bazaars and the bizarre -- mysterious activities hidden behind walls and tents," Reusse wrote on these pages a dozen years ago. "The Twins have shrouded their casbah behind 11 huge panels of white fabric. There is also an oversized valance that gives a North African look to the structure. All of this, and it only cost the Twins $450,000."

Hovering above it all -- except on the three occasions when the roof deflated -- is a lined ceiling that often wreaks havoc on fielders' attempts to locate popups. One of those never came back down: In 1984 Oakland slugger Dave Kingman hit a towering fly ball that disappeared through a 7-inch hole in the roof.

"It's like ... something that you would tell to your grandchildren, about the ball that went up and never came back down," said Twins infielder Tim Teufel. "We were all standing around like it was 'Candid Camera.'"

Staff researcher John Wareham contributed to this article.

Bill Ward • 612-673-7643

See historical opening day photos of the Twins, Millers and Saints at