Some will say that end of summer is always Labor Day. Some will tell you that it officially ends on September 21st when the calendar tells you it's over. I have always contended that the official-unofficial end of the summer is when the Major League baseball regular season finally ends. This year was the second season that the Minnesota Twins occupied Target Field and was one they would love to forget. The team finished with 99 losses with the highest payroll in team history.
However for myself this was a summer of great experiences.
I found myself having the first three consecutive days off for the first time in nearly three years over the fourth of July holiday weekend. It was also MLB's big "rivalry" weekend so I did what any logical 33 year old would do. I got in my car in Chanhassen at Five o'clock in the morning and drove to Cincinnati Ohio to watch the hometown Reds take on the cross state rival Indians. Eleven hours one way with one stop just north of Indiana a large thunderstorm and I was able to check into my hotel and be at the game just in time for the first inning.
The next morning I awoke and set my course for my favorite city in America outside of Minneapolis-St Paul and that's Chicago. The White Sox were set to take on the Cubs at historic Wrigley Field and I was going to be there. Six more hours behind the wheel in over 100 degree temperatures I arrived two blocks south of Wrigley and stopped to get gas and something to drink. That's when my car decided that I would be going the rest of the trip alone. Having made it this far I was at least going to make an attempt to get into the game which I did very briefly.
At this point it was time to make my way back to the Twin Cities. I ended up booking a ticket online and had to wait at a ma and pa restaurant just outside of the wrigleyville area.
Got home just a few short hours and one expensive cab ride later. Then Sunday I took my parents for their 34 year wedding anniversary to watch the Twins take on the Milwaukee Brewers at Target Field. It's hard to believe but the Twins took two of three from the brew crew and came very close to a three game sweep.
I had a minor setback in the course of getting to my final destination. Although some would consider a vehicle an essential part of a road trip. However had this trip not taken place I never would have had the chance to meet Hall of Famer Joe Morgan in the Reds pressbox. I never would have had a conversation with my waitress who aspired for a career in radio. I also never would have been able to see fourth of July fireworks at sunset from a first class seat on an airplane at thirty thousand feet.
I also had the chance to travel to a ballpark I had yet to visit when I traveled to Denver in late August to watch the Houston Astros take on the Colorado Rockies at beautiful Coors Field. The Astros were about as lifeless as the Twins seemed to be in the second half of the season, but you really can't put a price on a seat watching a big league ball game with the rocky mountains in the background.
The end of July featured what very well may go down as the biggest musical spectacle in the history of Minnesota. Bono and the boys of U2 played a show at TCF bank stadium in front of sixty thousand people. The rain came about halfway through their two and a half hour set but that didn't slow down anyone. The band kept rocking and the crowd seemed to roar with approval every single time the lightning would strike.
This summer for me was defined by my personal connection to the game of baseball. Two years ago I was approached to start the rebirth of the Chanhassen Redbirds baseball team. In saying yes to becoming the manager of this once very proud organization I was welcoming the challenge of leading a group of young men I had never once watched play. It also meant that I was saying goodbye to playing a game that had always consumed my time since I was five years old.
Town baseball in the state of Minnesota is something that I had been involved in for a number of years. It all started with my hometown Faribault Lakers when we took on the Austin Greyhounds and it ended one game short of the state amateur tournament with a loss down in Fairfax. It was a game that also featured my first ever ejection in the bottom of the eighth inning. Disappointment set in initially with not only my actions but our failure to qualify for the state tournament, something I have never done as a player or as a coach.
What followed that disappointment shortly thereafter was pride. I had the opportunity to lead a group of young men who I didn't know and who certainly knew nothing about me. Relationships were formed that I am more than sure will last for a lifetime. The birds had renewed a competitive spark inside of me that for a short period of my life I thought was gone forever. Yeah, it was some kind of summer.