Hoping to get the most out of my spring training experience, I arrived at Hammond Stadium just after 8 a.m. for the 1 p.m. game. Since it had rained the night before and the skies were still dreary and overcast, there weren’t any players taking early morning practice. The gates weren’t set to open until 10 a.m. so for the next two hours I took pictures throughout the complex.
Here’s the front of Hammond Stadium:
After walking back to the car I noticed that each row of the parking lot was named after a current or former member of the Twins. I particularly liked Killebrew Drive:
I continued by taking a leisurely stroll down this path to the practice fields:
If you look closely in the previous photo you’ll see a Twins coach in the distance. That’s Gene Glynn. We walked passed each other and said hello, but that was the end of our encounter… until he turned around and struck up a conversation. After talking for nearly 10 minutes we discovered we had mutual friends. As it turned out, I know a few of his great nieces and nephews who go to my high school.
After talking with Gene I continued walking until I reached the far end of the complex. Here’s the view looking back towards Hammond Stadium:
Eventually I made my way back to Hammond:
After taking a few pictures of the fountains I got in line to enter the stadium:
Once inside the stadium I headed down to the dugout area to watch the Twins get set up for batting practice:
Most of the team warmed up their arms in shallow left field:
I moved to the seats in right field for the Twins first group of hitters, a group of lefties. After watching Jason Kubel take a few cuts I realized that the ball wasn’t carrying as well as it had been the day before. Because the temp was cooler and the air was more moist today, most of the balls got hung up at the warning track. Regardless, I eventually snagged one of the only homers that Jason Kubel hit during batting practice. When Kubel’s group was done hitting I moved to the grassy area in left field.
Ball 2 of the day was hit by Trevor Plouffe. I caught the line drive home run on the fly while I was running in full stride to my left. Surprisingly a few players complemented me on my catch. Ball #3 was another Plouffe homer that I caught on the fly, but this time I had to descend on the stair case that is between the concourse and the grassy area before catching the moonshot that Trevor hit. I’m not sure why, but once again I was complemented by a few of the fielders. It was kind of cool, but unexpected. My fourth ball of the day was a “home run” hit by Brian Dozier. When Dozier hit a deep line drive to left field I could tell that the ball wasn’t going to clear the wall, but I knew it’d be close. Casey Fien and I both got a beat on the ball, but just from different sides of the fence. As Casey tracked the ball to the warning track I reached over the fence. As Casey leapt at the wall, I reached lower. As soon as I felt the ball inside my glove I watched as Casey landed back on the warning track. I had just made a pretty sweet catch, robbing Casey at the wall! All of a sudden a bunch of fans applauded, and Casey even let out a laugh. He looked genuinely impressed.
This was my view when the Cardinals took the field:
This is when most of the excitement ended. Since the Cardinals had split squad games today, only the scrubs had traveled to Hammond Stadium. There were only a few homers during the rest of batting practice, and I was lucky enough to get one of them. Immediately after picking up the ball I gave it to an elderly lady who was sitting at the railing behind the section. She was absolutely thrilled, and once again I was applauded. It was a little weird.
When the Cardinals left the field I took a somewhat artsy photo:
Shortly after batting practice it began to rain and everything began to get wet:
Because a strong storm was moving in, fans were advised to take cover in the party area near the batting cages and the Twins’ bullpen. After finding my 6th ball near the Twins bullpen I decided to leave. I knew the game would be cancelled, so I didn’t give it a second thought.
Here’s the shot of the baseballs that I kept: