The Minnesota Twins are heading for their earliest outdoor opener ever on Monday, and it's shaping up to be a chilly one.
Tim Nelson was out at the ballpark Thursday and joined Morning Edition's Cathy Wurzer with a preview. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Cathy Wurzer: We're talking baseball here, so let's run down the statistics. How cold has it been for a Twins opener, and how does that compare with the forecast on Monday.
Tim Nelson: Well, let's start with the forecast. I just checked the National Weather Service seven-day forecast before I came in here. And Cathy, they're using the word "flurries" for Monday. The weather service actually dropped the projected high temperature for that day by a degree since last night and sprinkled in a little snow. And remember, that's the high. The overnight low from Sunday to Monday is supposed to be 22 degrees, so it could very well be BELOW the freezing mark and even snowing when Twins pitcher Vance Worley throws his first pitch to Joe Mauer.
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Wurzer: That's cold. How cold has it been when the Twins have played outside?
Nelson: If the forecast is right it will be the coldest home opener ever. Between Metropolitan Stadium and Target Field, they've had 24 Opening Days outside since 1961. BaseballReference.com lists the start-time weather in the box score for every one of those games, and back in 1962. It was 33 degrees when Camilo Pascual threw the first pitch of the second season in Minnesota. And just 24,606 people showed up. So if you've got a ticket to Monday's game, you could be telling your grandchildren about the time your chocolate smoothie froze solid right in its cup as you watched the 2013 Twins Opener. And, by the way, for statistics junkies, the warmest outdoor opening day pegged at 89 degrees, out at Metropolitan Stadium in 1980.
Wurzer: So you were out at the Target Field yesterday? How did it look?
Nelson: The stadium looks ready to go. The Twins had their annual preview of the food at Target Field yesterday, and we got to go in and walk around the concourse. It was about 40 degrees, I think, but I didn't even wear a coat, and I was fine in the sun. But I ran into a couple fans, and they admit that they have expected the worst this spring. I talked to Brett Erickson. He's been a season ticket holder for the past four years, and he's going to the opener with his dad, Reed.
"I thought I would be coming in here with a brush, shoveling the snow off my seat when I came in, honestly," Brett said. "But right now, I can't see any snow anywhere. The grass looks greener than it may look all year. It looks like its ready for baseball."
And I walked around quite a bit, and I've got to tell you, there isn't a trace of winter left in the stands out there.
Wurzer: What about the field?
Nelson: Well, I ran into Twins head groundskeeper Larry DiVito out there yesterday, and he was watering the grass and raking out the base path along third base there. I asked him how they're coming back from that late snow.
"Snow melts pretty quick. With the field heating system, we have temperatures in the low 60s, so getting rid of the snow wasn't really a big deal," DeVito said. "It was really the overnight lows being so low. It's kind of putting a shock on the grass. Trying to get it to grow has been difficult. Ninety percent of it is about where I want it, we're a little behind out in right field with the shady areas. But its starting to grow out. We have a couple of good days coming up."
And that heating system, by the way, is under the turf. The Twins are not going to be toasting their fans in the seating bowl on Monday, although there are heat lamps at the top of the seats on the lower concourse. And, as they've done in past years, they're going to have vendors with hot chocolate walking around. It's not just any hot chocolate, either. It's souvenir hot chocolate, and it comes in an insulated mug, and it'll cost $8.
Wurzer: Speaking of vendors, you were out there yesterday, any good food for this year?
Nelson: They've got fresh walleye from Mac's Fish and Chips up on Hamline and Larpenteur this year, Panino's Baked Sandwiches and goat burgers from Andrew Zimmern this year. But I tried the meatloaf sandwich at Hrbek's yesterday, and that sandwich alone was practically worth the price of getting into the ballpark. For a few taste tests, visit the Stadium Watch blog here.
For the stats buffs, here's the weather report for Twins home openers:
|Opening Day||Stadium||Score||Start Time Weather|
|4/21/1961||Met Stadium||Senators 5, Twins 3||63 degrees|
|4/14/1962||Met Stadium||Angels 12, Twins 5||33 degrees|
|4/9/1963||Met Stadium||Cleveland 5, Twins 4||49 degrees|
|4/22/1964||Met Stadium||Twins 7, Senators 6||58 degrees|
|4/12/1965||Met Stadium||Twins 5, Yankees 4||44 degrees, wind 18 mph out to right field, overcast|
|4/12/1966||Met Stadium||Twins 2, A's 1||52 degrees, winf 13 mph out to right field|
|4/14/1967||Met Stadium||Twins 5, Tigers 3||60 degrees|
|4/17/1968||Met Stadium||Twins 13, Senators 1||62 degrees, wind 16 mph, unknown direction|
|4/18/1969||Met Stadium||Twins 6, Angels 0||59 degrees, wind 12 mph in from left field|
|4/11/1970||Met Stadium||Twins 8, A's 2||49 degrees|
|4/6/1971||Met Stadium||Brewers 7, Twins 2||53 degrees|
|4/23/1972||Met Stadium||Twins 8, A's 4||44 degrees, wind 12 mph in unknown direction, rain|
|4/13/1973||Met Stadium||Twins 8, A's 4||51 degrees|
|4/9/1974||Met Stadium||Twins 3, White Sox 1||53 degrees, sunny|
|4/15/1975||Met Stadium||Angels 7, Twins 3||48 degrees, wind 10 mph in unknown direction|
|4/13/1976||Met Stadium||White Sox 4, Twins 1||75 degrees, wind 17 mph in unknown direction, sunny|
|4/15/1977||Met Stadium||A's 3, Twins 2||77 degrees, wind 13 mph in unknown direction, no precipitation|
|4/14/1978||Met Stadium||Twins 14, Mariners 5||50 degrees, wind 12mph in unknown direction, sunny|
|4/17/1979||Met Stadium||Angels 6, Twins 0||63 degrees, wind 15 mph in unknown direction, no precipitation|
|4/22/1980||Met Stadium||Twins 8, Angels 1||89 degrees, wind 25 mph in unknown direction, no precipitation|
|4/9/1981||Met Stadium||Angels 5, Twins 1||65 degrees, wind 16 mph in unknown direction|
|4/12/2010||Target Field||Twins 5, Red Sox 2||65 degrees, wind 10 mph from right to left, cloudy|
|4/8/2011||Target Field||Twins 2, A's 1||63 degrees, wind 14 mph from right to left, sunny|
|4/9/2012||Target Field||Angels 5, Twins 1||45 degrees, wind 20 mph from left to right, cloudy|
|Source: baseballreference.com, National Weather Service|