A sellout crowd of more than 38,000 fans braved near-freezing temperatures at Target Field on Monday to watch the Minnesota Twins open the 2013 season against the Detroit Tigers.
The Twins lost 4-2 in the earliest outdoor season home opener in team history. The cold may have slowed the Twins batters, but many fans didn't seem to mind the chilly weather.
It was 35 degrees at the start of the game. Gusty winds made it feel much colder. Twins fans like Shane Palmquist of Luverne, Minn., prepared for the frosty temperatures by wearing several layers of clothing: "Winter coat, jersey, long-sleeved shirt, hooded sweatshirt."
Palmquist was able to bask in the afternoon sun, which, next to the visitors' dugout along the third baseline, felt almost warm.
He said he has attended the previous two home openers at Target Field and said last year did not feel much warmer than this opener.
It was much colder in the shady concourse areas, where fans like Judy Mitchell got provisions before the game. Mitchell's face was the only part of her not covered in layers of sweaters, jackets and a blanket.
However, Mitchell said, the cold was no big deal. She is a native Minnesotan who attended many outdoor sporting events at the old Metropolitan Stadium.
"Many times [I] went there for Twins and Vikings. Sat in the snow, sat in the sun," she said.
On warmer days, vendor Brian Wegner sells beer. On Monday, he was trying to draw customers with steamier beverages like hot chocolate.
Wegner said sales were slow - probably because the fans were already warm enough.
"There are snowmobile suits, coveralls and everything," Wegner said. "They're ready for the cold. They had plenty of time to think it over."
The weather apparently did not affect Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander. Over five innings, Verlander kept the Twins from scoring a run while giving up three hits and throwing seven strikeouts; three of them came against rookie centerfielder Aaron Hicks.
Hicks was hot in spring training and led the team in hits. But Verlander cooled him off fast, said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
"You're facing one of the best pitchers in baseball -- if not the best," Gardenhire said. "And he threw him some nasty pitches, so welcome to the big leagues. But his last two at-bats were really good."
Twins starting pitcher Vance Worley gave up three runs early in the game before settling down. Worley said the cold doesn't bother him -- the California native even pitched in short sleeves.
"I stay hot all the time," Worley said. "I was sweating just walking out there to play catch today. If I went sleeves, it would have been really hot out there."
The weather was expected to warm up to around 50 degrees for the Twins' next game at Target Field against Detroit on Wednesday.