10/04/2003 1:58 PM ET
Metrodome crowd brings thunder
'Different' fans have their own brand of noise
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's not Yankee Stadium, and that's the way the Twins fans packing the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome like it.
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Instead of the New York tradition of brutalizing the opposing teams' fans and players, the Twins faithful prefer to celebrate their own thing: a raucous, deafening environment.
"You've heard of the term, 'Minnesota-nice,' and I suppose we're sorta like that, you know?" says Bob, a home renovator from nearby Hudson, Wisc., who's sitting in the rowdy general-admission seating section in the fair territory beyond the left-field wall.
"We don't say much other than, 'You stink,' from time to time. Maybe we chant, 'Eddie, Eddie,' when Guardado's warming up in the bullpen. That's about it."
A walk through the corridors of the Dome about an hour before Kyle Loshe fires the first pitch of Game 3 of the American League Division Series reveals some other local quirks.
"I DON'T heart NY," reads one female fan's T-shirt as she rumbles through the masses.
Another fan parades down the concourse with a bedsheet featuring a crying baby in a Yankee hat. It reads, "Yankee Hankee: Boo-hoo!"
Down on the field, legendary Twins public address announcer Bob Casey prepares to enter his office behind home plate known as "The Casey Hole," but first, he offers a little good-natured ribbing to some of the visitors.
First, Casey ambles over to Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams.
"I told him not to let his big-city boys come and beat up on this little country team," Casey says.
"He told me I was full of it."
Much of the same comes from the mouth of Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer, a baseball lifer.
"Zim said he didn't want to hear any of it from me," Casey says. "I told him that I remembered when he was playing for the St. Paul Saints of the old American Association in 1957. It was a game against Columbus. He got hit in the head that day, and he's never been the same."
New York has its share of celebrities showing up to these games. You can't attend a Yankees game in October without seeing some A-lister like Kurt Russell, Rudy Giuliani, Billy Crystal or Jerry Seinfeld.
It's not like that in the Dome.
The only recognizable faces here are recognizable only to Minnesotans: old Twins players like broadcaster Dan Gladden or local politicians.
It's more a place to be heard than seen.
"One thing I can guarantee you is that after you've been here during a playoff game, you won't be able to hear anything for two days," Casey says.
"They don't hear a thing I say. Not that they're listening, anyways."
Back in the hallways, Twins fans are getting fired up for the big game by putting on their tribal colors: face paint.
Angie, 23, is painting phrases like "I love Torii" and "Win Twins" and Twins-themed designs on peoples' faces for between $3 and $5. A half-hour before the game, she's already painted 45 faces.
But the line for that doesn't compare to the line for the Homer Hankies.
The Twins' unique form of celebration has blossomed into a craze. Throughout the corridors of the Dome, at least 1,000 people are lined up to get their hankies, which read, "2003 Homer Hanky ... every fan counts."
When asked if it's more about celebrating with other Twins fans or because the hankies are the only souvenirs in America that cost only one dollar, a guy in an old-school Roy Smalley jersey answers, "A little bit of both."
Yes, Twins fans are willing to go to great lengths to get a piece of the action.
And great heights.
Consider Bob of Savage, Minn., and Perry of Eden Prairie, buddies who got their tickets over the phone only to discover that they were in the last row in center field, two of the roughly 7,000 seats that are obscured by murals of Twins legends during the regular season.
There were no oxygen masks under their seats, nor nosebleed stains on their Homer Hankies, and you know what? They don't seem to mind that they won't be able to see anything that happens in the outfield.
"Seeing where the homers go is overrated anyway," Perry says. "That's what the JumboTron's for."
On the way back from that rarefied air, a college kid named Bobby storms by and takes a shot at proud Yankee history with a clever sign that reads, "Take your 26 rings and shove 'em."
Wow. That seems a little malicious for this crowd, Bobby.
"No, no, no, not at all," he says with a smile of assurance.
"We're Minnesota niiiiiiiiiice."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.