The Minnesota Twins and my many memories

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As I write this, the Minnesota Twins stand tied for first place in the AL Central Division.

Let me repeat that for those of you clutching your chest, gasping for breath and shaking your head in disbelief:  The Minnesota Twins stand tied for first place in the AL Central Division.

Few in Minnesota may have believed at the beginning of this season that the Twins were destined for anything other than the cellar.

Truth be told, there are equally few that believe the Twins hot streak is going to last throughout the length of a grueling Major League Baseball season.

I have to be honest, outside of Joe Mauer and Tori Hunter, there aren’t really any of the current players on the Twins roster that I could name or place if they walked by me on the street.

My golden era of the Twins players had names like Puckett, Gladden, Hrbek, Viola and Brunansky.

I can remember their faces and their names and their playing days as clearly as I can remember those glorious World Series wins in 1987 and 1991.

I can’t be sure whether the current Twins, under the stalwart leadership of Paul Molitor, can sustain their current winning ways.  I hope they can.  Lord knows the entire Twins organization has endured its share of pain and suffering over the past several years.

The diehard fans of the Minnesota Twins have agonized over their team’s misfortunes as well.

Throughout my years in politics and public policy in Minnesota I have experienced my share of great highs and lows.  There were few endeavors, however, that created more highs and lows in the span of a year between 1998 and 1999 when Mayor Norm Coleman committed to trying to bring the Minnesota Twins to St. Paul.

Someday when I finally write my book I hope to convey the convergence of forces that brought us to a point where we put a question on the ballot for St. Paul voters to decide if they wanted to raise the resources necessary to bring the Twins to St. Paul.

The audacity of Norm Coleman’s decision to take on this effort wasn’t surprising to anyone who knew or knows him.

It was the kind of “let’s get it done” approach to everything he brought with him as job of Mayor of St. Paul.

For those of us who have had the good fortune to work with him throughout our careers it was, and remains, an incredible gift we had to be alongside someone who saw things through the prism of what was possible rather than what was impossible.

I remember many things about that time, but what I remember the most was the incredible spirit and community mindedness of the Minnesota Twins organization – staff – players – and the Pohlad Family that owned, and still owns, the Twins.

I remember the meetings with Carl Pohlad and some of his sons.  Carl was physically growing older but there was nothing about his advanced age that affected the sharp mind and wit he had as he looked at you without revealing anything about what he was thinking.

There were the meetings with Jerry Bell, then the President of the Minnesota Twins, who I am pretty sure didn’t like me very much – and I am pretty sure still doesn’t like me very much.

I will always remember my interactions with Dave St. Peter, the current President of the Minnesota Twins.  David always struck me as the adult kid who knew he had the best job ever in the history of the world.

I watched him interact with the players and the former players of the Twins.  He was respectful but never patronizing.  He found their talents and their standing in the world impressive, but never appeared overly in awe of them.

The Twins entire staff was that way.  Just enormously generous with their time, their talent and found their roles with the organization as important to the Team’s success as the players on the field.

I remember all of this as I enjoy seeing the Twins current success on and off the field.  It reminds me that nothing good happens unless there are good people committed to working together to making it happen.

I cannot imagine all of the hard work, tears, second-guessing and frustration that has taken place within the entire Twins organization over the past several years as they have worked hard to put a winning product on the field.

Through it all, however, they appeared, on the outside, to be firmly committed to putting it together as a family – and as a team.

I also walked away from that experience, despite the disappointment of losing – badly – the vote that would have brought the Twins to St. Paul – having a great appreciation for the role of the Pohlad Family in this community.

Carl Pohlad was vilified for years by politicians and the public alike.  And, despite these attacks on him and his character, he remained committed to our community in public ways – yet in a lot more private ways than most Minnesotans will ever know.

Today as Mike Veeck has successfully brought a resurgent Saint Paul Saints brand and product to Lowertown St. Paul I am happy for him and his entire organization, and the City of St. Paul.  Mike and his entire organization are class acts who have done enormously positive things for our community.

I am pleased with Mayor Chris Coleman’s success in making this opportunity happen for our St. Paul

It is a good thing.

But, I would be lying if I didn’t wistfully wonder what it would have been like to see the opening pitch of the 2015 Minnesota Twins season being thrown somewhere in Downtown St. Paul and the millions of fans streaming in and out of our Capitol City.

Say what you will about professional sports – debate about the economic impact of the games – or the value of the public investment in stadiums and arenas.

There’s something special about a community in America that possess the treasure of a professional sports team and the history that comes with it.

For this moment in time I hope Minnesotans will appreciate that – and appreciate everything the Twins organization has done to build a new tradition of excellence for its fans – and, a new generation of Pucketts, Hrbeks, Gaettis and Berenguers for our memories.

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