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04/11/10 5:57 PM ET
Twins legends to help open Target Field
Inaugural festivities include banner hangings, fireworks
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Target Field's home opener will be a celebration of the Twins' future in their new ballpark, but also of their past. A number of Twins legends and former players will be on hand to help the club mark the inaugural regular-season game at Target Field on Monday against the Red Sox. They'll be there to take part in a number of festivities leading up to the game, which include the ceremonial opening of each gate, the unveiling of championship banners as well as a fighter-jet flyover and fireworks. "A key objective for the Twins has always been to strive to highlight the past while looking forward," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "It's our 50th season in Minnesota and it's a franchise with a proud tradition filled with great teams and great players. We found it was absolutely essential to involve a number of those people as we throw the first pitch ever at Target Field. It's great to have that connection and this provides a wonderful showcase of what Twins baseball has meant to people throughout the Upper Midwest." Things will kick off at 11:30 a.m. CT with the Twins unveiling the Kirby Puckett bronze legend statue, which was created by local artist Bill Mack, on Target Plaza. Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew had similar statues unveiled during the club's two exhibition games against the Cardinals last weekend. Kirby Puckett Jr., the son of the late Hall of Fame outfielder, will then help to ceremonially open Gate 34 -- his dad's jersey number -- at noon. It's part of a ceremony with all the Twins legends opening up their respective gates, including Killebrew (Gate 3), Tony Oliva (Gate 6), Kent Hrbek (Gate 14) and Carew (Gate 29). A group of Twins alumni will then raise the following championship pennants in left field during the pregame ceremony: Jim Kaat (1965, American League title), Jim Perry (1969 AL West), Bert Blyleven (1970 AL West), Frank Viola (1987 World Series), Jack Morris (1991 World Series), Eddie Guardado (2002 AL Central), Corey Koskie (2003 AL Central), Shannon Stewart (2004 AL Central), Brad Radke (2006 AL Central), general manager Bill Smith (2009 AL Central flag). Al Newman will also raise a "TC" flag. "That's got to be pretty awesome for all the former players to come out to the new park," said Twins reliever and Minnesota native Pat Neshek. "For the fans, it's a hot ticket. People have been talking about getting tickets to this game for the last couple years. So they've got to be thrilled and it's going to be a big opening series there." All fans attending Monday's 3:10 p.m. contest will receive an Opening Day Homer Hanky and an Opening Day 2010 commemorative certificate.
Gates to the ballpark will open three hours before first pitch so fans can take part in all the pregame festivities. The Twins are encouraging fans to be in their seats by 2:15 p.m. so they can see the entire prolonged pregame ceremony. Spec. Jake Benson of the Minnesota Army National Guard will raise the American Flag on Target Plaza prior to the singing of the national anthem. Spec. Benson was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in Iraq with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. The Twins have also invited select family members of service members killed to attend the opener as a tribute to their sacrifice for our nation. The national anthem will be performed by the Twin Cities All-Stars, comprised of members of the Sounds of Blackness, The Steeles, Moore by Four and the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir. A military flyover of F-16s will then be performed by the 148th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard located in Duluth, with fireworks to follow. The Twins will also show a "Story of Target Field" video before ceremonial first pitches will be made by Hennepin County Commission chairman Mike Opat, Twins President Jerry Bell and Mortenson Construction superintendent Dave Mansell. The balls for those ceremonial pitches will be presented by that group of Twins legends whose numbers are retired. "Take Me out to the Ballgame" in the seventh inning will be performed by Twins alumni and will be preceded by a performance of "God Bless America" by Twin Cities musician G.B. Leighton.
OPENING UP RIGHT ON TARGET
|11:30 a.m.||Puckett Statue unveiled||2:50 p.m.||National anthem begins|
|Noon||Gates open||2:52 p.m.||Flyover/fireworks|
|Noon||Twins BP||2:53 p.m.||Target Field video|
|1:15 p.m.||Red Sox BP||2:58 p.m.||Guests introduced|
|2 p.m.||Grounds crew works||3 p.m.||Retired numbers introduced|
|2:15 p.m.||Pregame video||3:04 p.m.||Ceremonial first pitches|
|2:22 p.m.||Raising of championship flags||3:05 p.m.||Umpires/managers to home plate|
|2:34 p.m.||Red Sox introduced||3:06 p.m.||Opening video|
|2:38 p.m.||Twins introduced||3:08 p.m.||Twins' lineup announced|
|2:46 p.m.||Giant flag unfurled||3:10 p.m.||Twins take field|
|2:47 p.m.||Moment of silence||3:12 p.m.||First pitch|
|* All times CT|
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.