Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Target Field wasn’t just a hit. It was a home run.
The Minnesota Twins played host to the 85th Midsummer Classic on a night that produced plenty of memorable moments. At the top of the list was a farewell to Derek Jeter, the longtime Yankees shortstop who was playing in the final All-Star Game of his illustrious career.
There was also the show put on by All-Star MVP Mike Trout, who helped the American League top the National League by a 5-3 final with a double, a triple and two RBI. To close out was a duo that provided another one of the game’s best storylines: Closer Glen Perkins and catcher Kurt Suzuki, Twins teammates who gave the hometown fans a moment they had all hoped for.
After years of planning and countless hours of work to get Target Field, the city of Minneapolis, and the state of Minnesota ready for the All-Star Game, the Twins organization can now catch its breath and bask in the fact that the event and everything it entailed went off as smoothly as it did.
"It’s really an honor and a privilege for the Twins organization to play host to the All-Star Game and all the related events," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "We were absolutely thrilled with how the festivities in total turned out. The engagement of the community, the excitement for the Twins and for baseball in this marketplace, and then ultimately how the event showcased our ballpark, our downtown, and really our region was very special."
One of the only hiccups of the entire week came during Tuesday night’s game when a protester unfurled a sign that read "LOVE WATER NOT OIL." The sign was draped over a video board behind the seats in right field but was quickly taken down.
Outside of that, an hour-long rain delay before Monday’s Home Run Derby was really the only other speed bump along the way — and even that produced a memorable and picturesque double rainbow that arched above the downtown Minneapolis skyline. Despite cooler than average temperatures for mid-July, the Twins lucked out with the way Mother Nature cooperated.
"Obviously we don’t control the weather," St. Peter said. "(Tuesday) night obviously was picture perfect. We were thrilled."
The All-Star Game gave the Twins a chance to show off Target Field, which was built in 2010 and has hosted just one playoff series since opening. A total of 41,048 fans packed into Target Field on Tuesday to watch Jeter, Trout and others shine on baseball’s biggest stage.
While fans of the AL are well accustomed to what Target Field has to offer, it was the first opportunity for some of the NL clubs and players to take in the sights of the downtown Minneapolis ballpark.
"It’s a really nice ballpark," said Pirates outfielder and reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen. "I always talk about if I was an architect and I made a stadium, I would make the field opposite from how all the fields are. The short porch in right would be in left instead of right. Right field would be deeper, because I’m right-handed. That’s the feel I get when I play here. … When I looked in, I was like, ‘Man, this is kind of what I was talking about.’ It’s a really neat stadium, a really cool ballpark."
Twins officials were in New York last year when the Mets hosted the All-Star Game at Citi Field, and they took notes on how to host an event with so much grandeur. Unlike last year’s game in the Big Apple, though, the 2014 All-Star Game was the main event in town. Players who played in last year’s game said the entire All-Star week was swallowed up by the city and became just one more event in town.
That wasn’t the case in Minnesota. From FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center to the parade that made its way from Nicollet Mall and turned left on 7th St. before converging on Target Field, fans turned out in droves to be a part of the action — even if they didn’t have a ticket for the game itself.
The Twins and Target Field by no means go dormant now. Minnesota begins a 10-game homestand on Friday and will soon host rock legend Paul McCartney for a concert on Aug. 2. Additionally, St. Peter hopes the team is playing meaningful games in August and September.
But for a few days in July, Minnesota was the center of the baseball world, and Target Field was the star.
"I think the reputation of Target Field was already strong," St. Peter said. "But certainly this event, coupled with the engagement of baseball throughout downtown Minneapolis and across the Twin Cities, really took things to a whole new level."