Friday, September 3, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballpark

Take me out with the crowd! Buy me some nacho grande and a wonderful butterknife steak. I don’t care if we ever get back, for it’s turkey legs, jumbo shrimp and kettle corn, all at the old ball game.
by Charlie Leck

I had a really nice time celebrating my birthday at the ballpark Wednesday night. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. On top of it all, it was an exciting game that our hometown Twins managed to win in extra innings. My wife is going to start thinking that these games are always this exciting, with 10th inning, heroic wins.

Rookie third-baseman, Danny Valencia, came to bat in the 10th inning with the score tied and Michael Cudayer down there on second base. I turned to my wife and predicted a Twins win right there.

“This kid is a tough out. He’s been getting big hits all year. I think he’ll win it right here!”

She’d had her little nap through the 7th and 8th inning and now she was wide-eyed and ready for some excitement. The last time she’d been at a Twins game with me, big Jim Thome (I call him Mighty Casey) had striped a huge home run in the first extra inning to win for the hometeam.

On this night, Valencia ripped a line drive into left-center field and Cuddy came roaring around third with the fans screaming and jumping and crossed the plate with the winning run. Valencia was mobbed by his teammates

The place was nuts last night – really hopping – and the hometown heroes were cheered wildly. It all reminds me of baseball in the old days – the days of Stan Musial and Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle – except, it’s different, of course, because it’s no longer just hot dogs and crackerjacks. Now there are restaurants within the stadium and one can order a big cobb salad or a plate of steamed shrimp. Out in the ballpark itself there are several different styles of ice cream, big turkey legs, vegetable kabobs, a Cuban sandwich on a bun, giant bratwurst and polish sausages along with a Margarita bar and a couple of other full-service bars. Popcorn is still there but most of the fans go for Kettle Korn these days. You can also get a simple hot dog, but the burgers stuffed with short ribs and blue cheese seem to be more popular [see a review and photo of the Vincent Burger below]. The giant servings of nacho grande, topped with sour cream and salsa with fresh peppers also look great if your tummy can handle it all.

Going to the ballgame is not like it used to be in the days when I was a kid. It’s an event now – a happening – and a place where people want to be seen. I'm kind of shocked at the number of young couples who are there, dating.

It’s also expensive. You’ve got to be prepared to drop a couple of hundred when you take someone to a ballgame these days. I took a dozen friends and family members to a game a few weeks ago and dropped two grand like it was nothing. You, who remember baseball games in the old days, might remember the term bleacher-bum. Believe me, there are no bleacher-bums left and there aren’t knot-holes anymore either. I’m not a beer-drinker, but I saw that a bottle of beer in the new park is $7.50. Wow! My wife had the nacho grande serving -- $10.50. I understand that at Monday afternoon games they sell hot-dogs for a buck.

Nevertheless, Wednesday night, there was no place I would have rather been. It was a terrific way to celebrate my big, big, big birthday.

A friend and fellow-blogger, who wanted to treat me on my birthday, invited us to meet him for a beer before the game at an Irish pub right in downtown Minneapolis, and only two blocks from the ballpark (a joint called Kieran’s). I’d give it high marks. The chicken wings were great. It was packed with a large pre-ballgame crowd. There are lots of hot spots around the ballpark and they’re all doing gang-buster business. Downtown Minneapolis, in the summer, on the night of a ball game, is the place to be.

Lots of the experts in America’s baseball business are calling our new ballpark the very best one in the nation. I’d have a hard time believing that any ballpark could be better or more fan friendly. I’m going to get to a couple more games yet this year and I expect to have a wonderful time at those, too.

Thanks to so many of you who’ve sent birthday wishes. They number several dozen and that’s very, very nice. I assure you I had a very, very nice birthday.

The famous Vincent Burger, from Vincent’s Restaurant
in Minneapolis, is made using meat from braised short ribs
and it’s stuffed with smoked Gouda cheese and topped with
lettuce, onion and tomato. The bun is fresh and really delicious.

A national web site, called Dream Burger, gives the Vincent
its highest rating: “In short – this burger was absolutely
delicious. The quality of the ingredients along with the way
everything was put together makes the
Vincent Burger an
absolutely amazing cheeseburger.”

If you come to Minneapolis, you won’t find a better restaurant
Vincent’s. Having heard about the burger, you’ll be
surprised to find out it’s haute cusine, but Vincent is French
and trained in France. His menu is extremely creative,
expensive and wonderful. It’s right in the heart of downtown
on the Nicollet Mall and 11th Street, across from Orchestra Hall.


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1 comment:

  1. I have recently started reading/following your blog and like the writing. That's it. Thanks.