Twins reflect on success as hosts of All-Star Game
Organization proud of effort put forth by Minnesota for entire All-Star Week
MINNEAPOLIS -- A rain shower that delayed Monday's Gillette Home Run Derby at Target Field couldn't put a damper on the All-Star festivities in Minnesota.
The one-hour delay certainly wasn't ideal for the Twins with the event on the national stage, but it did lead to a full rainbow over the ballpark beyond center field as the event began that proved to foreshadow the unforgettable moments that were to come in the Derby and in Tuesday's 85th All-Star Game.
"I think it was a great sign that things were going to be just fine," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "It just took us a little while to get started."
Fans enjoyed all of the events at Target Field, as evidenced by the massive crowds at the ballpark, with all three days featuring sellouts. Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game had a crowd of 39,553, while 40,558 fans waited through the rain delay at Monday's Derby, which saw Yoenis Cespedes repeat as champion.
The weather was much better for Tuesday's Midsummer Classic, as 41,408 spectators filled Target Field on a beautiful night that saw a first-pitch temperature of 72 degrees.
The game itself was a memorable one with Yankees legend Derek Jeter delivering in his final All-Star appearance with two hits and a run scored to help lead the American League to a 5-3 victory. Angels star center fielder Mike Trout picked up MVP honors with an RBI triple in the first inning and a go-ahead RBI double in the fifth.
Jeter was given a 63-second standing ovation before his first at-bat and was showered with even more applause when he was removed from the game in the top of the fourth inning. Jeter didn't know it was coming, and he walked off the field with Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" playing throughout the stadium. Jeter came back out on the field after hugging his teammates in the dugout for a touching curtain call to thank the fans.
"I thought it was great," said Jeter, a 14-time All-Star. "It was a wonderful moment that I am always going to remember."
Twins closer Glen Perkins, a Minnesota native, also closed it out for the AL with a perfect ninth inning while throwing to his teammate, catcher Kurt Suzuki. Fans gave Perkins a loud ovation as he came in from the bullpen and chanted his name throughout the inning, creating another unforgettable scene for the hometown crowd.
"I wasn't fighting back tears, but it was an overwhelming moment to hear the buildup as I was coming out of the 'pen," Perkins said. "It just got louder and louder. I think after I got the first out, they started chanting. Those are things that don't happen during the regular season. It was a moment like that where you realize why you play the game, and it's the fans in the stands."
But it was a bittersweet affair for Twins owner Jim Pohlad, whose father Carl was close with Commissioner Bud Selig and would've loved to have seen the All-Star Game return to the Twin Cities for the first time since 1985. Carl passed away in 2009, the year before Target Field opened, missing out on the chance to see Minnesota host its third All-Star Game.
"He would've loved it," Pohlad said. "He just loved mingling with everybody. But of course, he never saw Target Field completed. But he and the Commissioner were so close, and with him in his last year, it would've been great."
Selig, however, was impressed by the show put on in Minneapolis, which was lauded for its vibrancy throughout the week and the convenience that came with hosting so many of the events within a close radius downtown.
"It's like a lot of other things with baseball, it is something you couldn't have dreamed even 15 or 20 years ago," said Selig, who is set to retire in January. "I love All-Star Games and they mean so much to so many people. It has been a privilege."
Of course, there was so much more than just the games held at Target Field, as All-Star Week also saw the hosting of the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center from Friday to Tuesday, and countless charity events throughout the region.
Major League Baseball, the Twins and the Pohlad Family Foundation combined to raise an All-Star record $8 million for local charities.
"It means a great deal," St. Peter said. "Baseball coming together with the Twins and the Pohlad Family Foundation created the biggest legacy giving effort ever. On a personal level, it's probably what I'll remember most about this All-Star Game."
Much like when the Twins sent more than two dozen staffers to the All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York last year to help prepare for the event, the Reds sent a large contingent to Target Field to get a feel for the event.
The Twins worked with the Reds throughout the week, and they are now ready to make the handoff to Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park for next year's All-Star Game. And in the Twins' view, the 2014 Midsummer Classic was an unqualified success.
"We are very proud of the effort put forth not only by our organization, but our community," St. Peter said. "It's a once-in-a-generation event. I feel like we put our best foot forward and we were as good a hosts as we could've possibly been. After all the hours and coordination, I feel good about the outcome here with the 2014 All-Star Game."