The Twins Winter Caravan, a traveling tradition that brings Twins players, coaches and alums to smaller cities across Twins territory, will return for its 60th year in 2020. In announcing the itinerary Wednesday, a Twins news release noted that the Caravan is “among the longest running and most extensive offseason fan engagement tours in professional sports.”
That is true, but so is this: the long-running tour just got shorter.
What has been a two-week excursion in recent years — typically eight days total, Monday-Thursday of two consecutive weeks — is just four days total over one week this time, running from Jan. 20-23, 2020.
Twins president Dave St. Peter said via text that “lots of factors led to the decision.” Among them: a desire by the organization to get players involved in the community in different ways aside from the caravan and the challenge of not disrupting offseason workouts for players.
The latter does seem to align with the less-is-more approach to scheduling espoused by the Twins under manager Rocco Baldelli during their 101-win season in 2019.
This year’s caravan features four groups that will stop in a total of 16 different cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul. A stop in Fargo (N.D.) and Sioux Falls (S.D.) are the only two outside of Minnesota. Last year’s caravan was scheduled for more than twice as many stops, including 11 cities or towns in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.
Former Twins Tony Oliva, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris and Dan Gladden are spread among the four groups, but the most prominent current Twins player scheduled to be on this year’s caravan is 2019 rookie sensation Luis Arraez. Jake Cave, top prospect Alex Kirilloff and Baldelli are also scheduled to take part, among others.
In terms of its breadth and distance covered, St. Peter said, the Twins Caravan will still remain “the most aggressive in all of pro sports” even with the reduction this year.
The Twins Caravan in January 2019 had arguably a more robust lineup of current players, with Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers on the initial schedule. The 2017 caravan featured, among others, Byron Buxton (pictured above in New Prague that year, photo by Jerry Holt).
The caravan leads into TwinsFest on Jan. 24-25, which also has been abbreviated for 2020 from three days to two. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at Target Field; last year there was also a Sunday session from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., but that isn’t on this year’s schedule.