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Fans come out for breakfast rally
10/08/2004 12:55 PM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Even the beer vendor around here can be a morning person for the right reason.

Normally around 6 a.m. CT, Wally the Beer Man is just getting up for a morning walk with his dog. On Friday, he was starting what was shaping up to be an 18-hour day, having been awake for almost three hours.

He wasn't handing out beverages, only Homer Hankies -- lots of them.

"We went through 600 of them this morning, 3,500 doughnuts, and I don't know how much coffee and milk we have left," he said at about 7:30 a.m., midway through the Twins' Breakfast at the Plaza promotion. "I think everybody was hungry. We still have some newspapers left."

All of it was free for pedestrians who walked by and drivers who formed a line that backed up the street around the stadium before the giveaways started coming at 6 a.m. Krispy Kreme provided the doughnuts, Land O' Lakes the milk, and the Star Tribune the newspapers for the morning rush-hour rally.

The Twins have done it on Opening Day for about eight years, sometimes handing out hot dogs instead of doughnuts to simulate the ballpark experience. Once Minnesota's dynasty of American League Central titles began three years ago, the tradition was replicated in October, which can be a lot less predictable weather-wise than the mild, overcast morning they had on Friday.

The Twins held afternoon rallies on Monday in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, but this early-morning giveaway is a uniquely Minnesotan way to draw support before Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the Yankees.

By the time traffic eased, well over 1,000 people had passed through, but it has to be more than freebies to get people out this early.

"I think it's just because of the playoffs," said Minneapolis resident Sean Cox, who predicted a 6-2 Twins victory in Game 3. "It's getting people to come on out and celebrate."

Paul Burelis of Minneapolis had been around since 4 a.m. to prepare to give away newspapers. "It's just team spirit, rooting [the Twins] on," he said. "Everyone's coming to work and getting a doughnut or a cup of coffee. It's kind of fun."

It wasn't the tickets drawing them out. The few hundred remaining tickets for Game 3 weren't supposed to go back on sale until 9 a.m., but a few folks volunteered to open up early for those who were waiting.

It's not the team celebrities, unless you count Wally. He's been selling beer at Twins games for 34 years, dating back to Metropolitan Stadium, and he was a popular figure for pedestrians and drivers alike.

"We had quite a gathering down here this morning," he said. "Twins fever is running wild down here at the Metrodome. ... There's something about Minnesotans. They love a winner. And we have a winner in the Twins."

They also love the hankies, which he was passing out in seemingly all directions. But it's easier handing out hankies than selling beer.

"There's no stairs on the street here except this one little [curb]," he said. "I can handle that. But I love selling beer. I love to interact with these people. That's what's great. Everybody's going to be here, having a good time, and the Homer Hankies are going to be waving tonight."

By then, he might need some coffee, but that's fine.

"It only comes around in October," he said.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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