Mackey: 10 (or so) non-playoff game Metrodome memories I will cherish
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By now, we've seen several dozen lists chronicling the top moment in Metrodome history. Most of those lists have, in some order, Games 6 and 7 of the 1991 World Series, Game 7 of the 1987 World Series, Game 163 and the 1998 NFC Championship Game in the top five, and rightfully so.
Here are some of my Metrodome moments that don't involve elimination games:
Chuck Knoblauch gets pelted by dollar hot dogs and batteries
On May 2, 2001, the Twins were the most surprising team in baseball. They also happened to be beating the Yankees 3-0 in the sixth inning of dollar hot dog night. And at the time, left field general admission tickets were under $10. Winning baseball for the first time in nearly a decade, cheap seats and admission, and then-hated former Twin Chuck Knoblauch standing in left field for the Pinstripes. Plenty of reasons for excitement.
Fans expressed their jubilation by pelting Knoblauch with those dollar hot dogs. And batteries. And even a couple of golf balls.
In an effort to calm the rowdy crowd, Tom Kelly walked out and put his arm around Knoblauch, who fell out of favor with Twins fans when he demanded to be traded prior to the 1998 season - and for not really being all that likable. Meanwhile, legendary Metrodome PA announcer Bob Casey delivered this desperate message:
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is an important, championship ballgame. If the trouble in left field does not end, the game will be forfeited and the Yankees will win. Now quit this!"
(Photo credit: Star Tribune)
Todd Tichenor ejects everyone
Todd Tichenor was a 32-year-old fill-in umpire from Triple-A, which helps explain his bizarre Leslie Nielsen impression on May 28, 2009 in a game between the Twins and Red Sox.
Tichenor ejected both starting catchers, Mike Redmond and Jason Varitek, and both managers, Ron Gardenhire and Terry Francona - all in the seventh inning of a 3-1 win by Boston.
The chaos began on a bang-bang play at home plate in which Jeff Bailey attempted to score from third base on Dustin Pedroia's sac fly to right fielder Jason Kubel. Kubel fired home, Redmond applied a tag, and when Tichenor called Bailey safe, Redmond jumped up and threw his hands in the air. Tichenor tossed Redmond instantly.
I remember being in the post-game media scrum around Redmond's locker after the game. Redmond, who is as respectful and honest as any player in recent Twins history, said he didn't use any curse words. "I've done a lot worse out there and stayed in the game."
Gardenhire came out to defend Redmond, and he was promptly tossed. The next inning, Varitek took issue with a close pitch being called a ball. He got run. Then Francona was sent to the showers when he came out to ask about Varitek's ejection.
Here's video of the clownery.
On April 27, 1994, Scott Erickson threw a no-hitter against these Milwaukee Brewers:
CF Alex Diaz
SS Bill Spiers
LF Turner Ward
DH Greg Vaughn
C Dave Nilsson
3B Kevin Seitzer
RF Brian Harper (yes, THAT Brian Harper...)
1B John Jaha
2B Jose Valentin
On Sept. 11, 1999, Eric Milton threw a no-hitter against these Anaheim Angels:
RF Jeff Davanon
CF Orlando Palmeiro
LF Todd Greene
3B Troy Glaus
DH Steve Decker
1B Matt Luke
C Bret Hemphill
2B Trent Durrington
SS Andy Sheets
I happened to be sitting in the upper deck behind home plate with my dad for this game, which began at 11:00 a.m. due to a Gophers football conflict. Sure, it was a September call-up lineup, but a no-hitter is a no-hitter.
Peterson breaks single-game rushing record
Of Peterson's record-setting 297 yards in a Nov. 4, 2007 win over the San Diego Chargers, 253 came in the second half.
Iowa fans tear down goalpost, carry it out of the stadium
Iowa was one of the best teams in the country in 2002, and they capped an undefeated conference season by beating the Gophers 45-21 in front of a sold out Metrodome crowd - a crowd littered with Hawkeye yellow and black.
After the game, Iowa fans stormed the field, ripped down a goalpost, and attempted to take the goalpost up the steps and out of the stadium. Obviously.
Cheap home runs
One of the biggest problems with the Metrodome as a baseball stadium was how unforgiving the playing surface and roof were for outfielders. Some examples I remember witnessing in person, either as a fan or media member:
Oct. 4, 2006: Torii Hunter attempts to make a shoe-string catch on a line drive hit by Mark Kotsay in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Oakland A's, but the ball skipped past him all the way to the wall. Kotsay came all the way around to score, and the A's went on the sweep the Twins.
April 26, 1997: Rich Becker (yes... Rich Becker...) hit a pop-up to medium-depth center field in the bottom of the sixth inning off Rangers starter Bobby Witt. Center fielder Damon Buford never saw it. The ball bounced behind a bewildered Buford and Becker circled the bases for his first and only career inside-the-park home run. I'm proud to say I witnessed it in person.
July 29, 2000: Becker's inside-the-parker wasn't the only obscure inside-the-parker I witnessed as a youth... With runners on first and third and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Twins and Yankees were tied, 2-2. Future journeyman catcher Chad Moeller came up to the plate and smoked a line drive to left field. Yankees left fielder Ryan Thompson sprinted in and attempted to make an inning-ending shoe-string catch (much like Hunter a few years later), but he whiffed. The ball rolled all the way to the wall on the slick Astroturf, and Moeller notched the first home run of his career.
June 17, 2007: Prince Fielder hit this inside-the-park home run off Joe Nathan (and Lew Ford)...
And here's an inside-the-park home run by Shane Mack:
Favre breaks Marino's record
Two years before Favre donned a purple jersey, on Sept. 30, 2007, he broke Dan Marino's career touchdown pass record against the Vikings in the Metrodome.
The record-breaking touchdown pass - Favre's 421st - was a bullet to none other than Greg Jennings.
Favre finds Lewis
Brett Favre was decidedly mediocre through his first two-plus games as a Viking. The Vikings trailed the 49ers late in this Week 3 match-up, but somehow Favre found Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone to win the game and blow the roof off the dome.
The three loudest pops I've ever heard in a stadium or arena are, in no particular order, Favre-to-Lewis, Joe Nathan "inducing" an inning-ending line-out late in Game 163, and Brock Lesnar making a surprise return to the WWE at American Airlines Arena in Miami.
3,000th hits, 500th home run
Three players - all Hall of Famers - collected their 3,000th career hits a the Metrodome: Dave Winfield (Sept. 16, 1993), Eddie Murray (June 30, 1995) and Cal Ripken (April 15, 2000).
Frank Thomas blasted the 500th home run of his career on June 28, 2007.
The Summer of Lou Collins
Who could forget the summer of 1994 when a 12-year-old manager and Lou Collins led the Twins to a Game 163 against the Seattle Mariners?
And, just for fun, here's an amazing Metrodome training video from the 1980's (h/t @RandballStu):