Former Twins reunite at Metrodome
Players back together for series at stadium this weekend
MINNEAPOLIS -- Frank Viola couldn't help but reminisce as he watched Saturday's Twins game at the Metrodome.After all, Viola has plenty of big Metrodome moments to remember. The former Twins pitcher won Games 1 and 7 in the 1987 World Series, with both coming at the dome. He was also on the mound for one of the quirkiest Metrodome moments of all time: Dave Kingman's towering pop fly that never came down. His choice for favorite memory, though, was obvious. "Seventh game after we won, the last out of the World Series," Viola said. "We all got in a pile between the pitcher's mound and first base. That's the one that's most vivid in my mind." Viola was one of several Twins greats on hand Saturday, watching from a suite in left field as their former team took care of Zack Greinke and the Royals with a 5-4 victory. The final weekend at the Metrodome served as a reunion for dozens of former players, all of whom seemed to have stories to tell. "The thing that's funny is as the years go on, the stories get worse," Viola said. "We stretch the truth, but we always reminisce. It's great." "I think it's great that the Twins have such an array of guys here," former infielder Ron Coomer said. "To kind of finalize this place with a bunch of buddies is great." The list of players who returned to the dome included many from the All-Metrodome team, such as first baseman Kent Hrbek, closer Rick Aguilera and designated hitter Paul Molitor. Also on hand were members of the numerous division-winning clubs, including Brad Radke, Jacque Jones and Matthew LeCroy. "It's awesome. It's guys I haven't seen in a few years here," said Radke, who now resides in Florida. "It's kind of good to get back and see what everybody's up to." "You think about how special this is -- you've had two World Series teams here and a couple division winners, playoff games," said LeCroy, who this season managed the Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. "It was the first place I ever played a Major League Baseball game. That's something that means a lot to me." Some of the former players, like LeCroy, have stayed in touch with each other. He remains good friends with Michael Cuddyer, who hit the game-winning home run Saturday against the Royals. "I played with a lot of those guys," LeCroy said of the current Twins team. "Just not being on the field and missing that and coming out here to see these guys, to me, it's awesome." Others, like Viola, admit they've lost some contact with former teammates, making this weekend extra special. "It's great coming back and seeing everybody," Viola said. "The one thing you've got to say about the Minnesota Twins as an organization is that they really do a fantastic job of keeping everybody together. We've been a family, a lot of us, from 1980, 1981. "We go a year or two, three years with not seeing each other. But when we get back together, it's like we're best buddies again." When all the former Twins watch Sunday's game, they know it might be the last to be played here. And as many great memories as they've built inside the Metrodome, many are excited for outdoor baseball to return to Minnesota. "The one positive I think that you really got out of the Metrodome is you can always count on baseball being played," Viola said. "With outdoor baseball, you're not always going to have that again. Then again, I think that's the way baseball should be played." But if everything falls into place, the Twins might be playing more games at the Metrodome beyond Sunday. "It's been a fun last couple weeks," Radke said. "I've been keeping up, watching some games. Hopefully they can pull it off like we did in '06. It's kind of reminding me of that year a little bit."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.