Metrodome remembered, remains open
Twins count down top moments after forcing Game 163
MINNEAPOLIS -- The ceremony that followed Minnesota's regular-season finale Sunday was supposed to be a sendoff to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Former players and coaches were introduced to fans. A video tribute counted down the Top 10 moments in Metrodome history.And the son of the late Kirby Puckett, the Twins legend responsible for the No. 1 moment at the Dome, took down the last number in left field to complete the countdown to outdoor baseball in Minnesota. The only problem was, the 2009 Twins forced a tiebreaker with Detroit by virtue of a 13-4 win over the Royals on Sunday, meaning at least one more regular-season game will be played in the Dome. "You guys went and screwed up our whole speech," former Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek quipped. "I've honestly been a little nervous the past couple days wanting to show those guys that we play the game the right way," Twins outfielder Denard Span said. "I know I'm trying to make those guys proud. Those guys won a couple championships. Just to get an opportunity to get those group of guys in one place and have them watch us play has just been an honor." Players from the division-winning clubs, World Series winners and the All-Metrodome team were honored after Sunday's game as many of the Twins faithful remained in their seats for the ceremony. Radio announcer John Gordon and TV announcer Dick Bremer presided over the event, helping fans recall the greatest moments ever to take place in the Metrodome. "On its turf played such Twins greats as Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett and Joe Mauer," Gordon said. "It has posted no-hitters, division titles, 3,000 hits, an All-Star Game, and two incredible world championships. ... It might not have been the best stadium in baseball, but it was our stadium." "I think today that all of the guys that have been around here are back in town, that's kind of a neat feeling," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. Many of the Top 10 moments centered around those two world championships, which came in 1987 and 1991. Topping the list was Puckett's game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, which spawned the now infamous call of the late Jack Buck: "And we'll see you tomorrow night." Along with the home run and Buck's call, an interview with Puckett was shown on the Metrodome's screens, with the center fielder taking fans through the at-bat. Puckett watched as the first three pitches from Atlanta's Charlie Leibrandt went by him for a 2-1 count. On the next pitch, Metrodome and baseball history were made. "I'm not taking any more pitches," Puckett recalled in the video. "I'm swinging no matter what." Swing he did, launching himself into Twins and Metrodome lore forever. Puckett, who passed away in March 2006 after suffering a stroke, is the only member of the All-Metrodome team no longer living. But his son, Kirby, Jr., was at the Dome to take down the final number in the countdown. "Touch 'em all, Kirby Puckett," said Gordon Sunday, as he once again made what became his signature home run call. Also making the final list of top moments was Puckett's catch at the left-field wall in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series in which he robbed Ron Gant of an extra-base hit. Hrbek found himself on the list a few times, as well, including his disputed tag of Gant at first base in Game 2 of the '91 World Series, and his Game 6 grand slam in 1987. In the video tribute, Hrbek was seen running around the bases, arms extended, a moment etched in the minds of a generation of Twins fans. "We had a lot of fun here," Hrbek said to the crowd. "We saw some great players here. ... Great teammates. Great friends. A lot of great memories." Moment No. 6 on the Top 10 list came just three seasons ago, as the Twins clinched the AL Central title by first beating the White Sox, 5-1, and then watching from the dugout as the Royals beat the Tigers to give Minnesota the division. "That was the most exciting moment I've had on a baseball field," Twins closer Joe Nathan said. The 2006 season finale was a clear-cut best moment for current Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who was named to the All-Metrodome team. And although Morneau won't be playing in Tuesday's one-game tiebreaker, he knows his club has a chance at a little more Dome magic. "Hopefully they're not the last moments," Morneau said. "Hopefully we get to celebrate the same way on Tuesday."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.