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Twins fans flock to Rally Monday10/04/2004 11:30 PM ET
By Patrick Donnelly / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins fans got a rare chance on Monday to prove they're hearty enough to return to the days of outdoor fall baseball in Minnesota.
Thousands of Twins supporters packed Peavey Plaza for a "Rally Monday" bash featuring free food, live music and live interviews with former Twins players. The crowd braved late-afternoon temperatures in the mid-40s -- weather that brought to mind high school football more than an evening in the Metrodome -- but it could be exactly what the Twins will face this week with a couple of evening games at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Twins director of communications Brad Ruiter surveyed the crowd snaking through the plaza, waiting in line for free pizza and ice cream, checking out the Twins memorabilia tent or dancing to the guitar-driven rock of G.B. Leighton, and was impressed with the turnout.
"I think this is a little bit better than we were expecting, with the weather as cold as it is," Ruiter said. "I don't know exactly how many people are here, but it's in the thousands. We were giving out 2,500 Homer Hankies and we got rid of those within the first half-hour."
Traffic at the souvenir booth remained heavy long after the free Homer Hankies ran out. The team's traditional playoff good-luck charms were still moving swiftly for a buck apiece, and fans were enjoying the chance to pick up AL Central Division Champion t-shirts and sweatshirts to honor their back-to-back-to-back champs.
Warren and Cathy Ludford of Minneapolis brought their 6-month-old son, Nicholas, to his first Twins rally on Monday.
"We live real close by and wanted to support the Twins," Warren said. "We hope to get to a playoff game, too."
Cathy added with a laugh, "We haven't been out since he was born."
As Nicholas and his parents bopped to the beat of the rock music blaring through the plaza, two local office workers grabbed a quick bite to eat and confessed they're not exactly in the Twins' usual target audience.
"We're baseball fans, but I don't know as much as I should, probably," said Lori Nelson of Apple Valley. She and Kristin Johnson of St. Paul said they heard the music from their office building adjacent to Peavey Plaza and came downstairs to check it out. "We're big fans of G.B. Leighton," said Nelson, who noted she'd probably watch the Twins' playoff games, though Johnson wasn't as quick to commit to anything beyond the free pizza.
The event was broadcast live by Fox Sports Net North and WCCO-AM, and was emceed by FSNN's Dick Bremer, who led a program between sets by G.B. Leighton and Twin Cities legends Morris Day & The Time. Bremer, noting it's election season, drew a roar by professing his support for a ticket of "Santana and Nathan," before conducting interviews with such former Twins World Series heroes as Roy Smalley and Tim Laudner.
Ruiter noted that all eight teams in the MLB playoffs were holding similar rallies on Monday, but the Twins had a leg up on the rest of the field. "We were fortunate that we clinched early so we had two weeks to set it up, to get a couple of really top-flight local bands to come out and play, and to line up all the corporate sponsors we did," said Ruiter. "There are MLB representatives here and they're really happy with the turnout."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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