A ceremonial pitch can be a memory that lasts forever or a nerve-wracking experience that a person can’t wait to get over with. In my opinion, it’s the coolest way to feel like a Big Leaguer while still wearing street clothes. Every team including the Twins uses this as a way of exposure or as a fun experience. Sometimes it can be both! The person pitching can be a superstar athlete, musician, sponsor, or just an avid Twins fan.
I’ve been right by home plate for each and every first pitch we’ve had so far this season. One thing I’ve noticed is that there’s quite a bit of nerves and anxiety that a person goes through before he or she walks up to the mound. People will tell me beforehand that they are nervous and some even say that they practice throwing at home before they get to the field. I really can’t blame any of them though, since they’re throwing a baseball… at Target Field…. In front of thousands of people!
A few things I do or say to the person throwing out a first pitch is by joking with he/she a little. I sometimes say “My only rule is NO BOUNCING.” Most of the time the nerves go away, but usually they still don’t make it all the way to the plate on the fly. Another thing I have people take note of is how big of a target they have to throw at. The glove that T.C. uses is the size of a small house so it’s tough to miss!
We’re almost half-way through the season but we have MANY first pitches to go. Whether if a person can’t wait to be on the mound or can’t wait to get off of it, they will all still be an entertaining 15 seconds to watch.
Look, I’m very aware of the Twins record on the field, sometimes too aware because as the social media intern, I read all your Facebook and Twitter comments.
Let me just first say that our boys on the field are killing it too, our record may not show it, but the more I get to know this team the more I can honestly say it’s not from a lack of effort. Baseball is a very strange sport where the proverbial ball can bounce your way for days, streaks and entire seasons, and just as quickly begin to bounce the other direction. For goodness sake, R.A. Dickey has thrown two one-hitters already this season and looks like a legitimate Cy Young candidate thus far. If you told me in 2009 that he was going to have that kind of year myself, as well as basically everyone else, would have said you’re crazy. But hey, that’s baseball.
Again, I will never try to downplay the importance of the Twins players, they are the true stars of the organization and the ones the lights shine on the brightest, but with that said there are still well more than 100 front office employees (and currently more than 30 Twinterns) that all work tirelessly to make the Minnesota Twins not only the brand we are on the field, but off the field as well.
As you may have read here in this blog, in any of the local newspapers or saw on the local broadcast news, last week was the second annual Twins Hope Week. With events ranging from the Twins front office helping with Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush with Kindness to a Joe Mauer pizza lunch party with kids from Gillette’s Children’s Hospital to ‘Field Day with the Kids’ at Target Field with kids from the homeless shelters nearby the Twins’ ballpark, and that’s just scratching the top of it.
Truthfully, I’ve always found “hope” to be a funny word. What does hope actually mean? It really is one of those few words that is defined differently to each individual.
I guess my definition of hope was redefined over Twins Hope Week. Since the Twins were letting me run point on both press and social media coverage, I went in just hoping that it got a lot of news attention.
While it most certainly did, I found myself taken back by what really transpired at each of the events. We very much provided “HOPE” to all the individuals and organizations that we set out to help.
To read more about the events and who we helped, scroll down on this blog or check out these Hope Week videos. The guys at Capture Studios did an unbelievable job with the videos and all I can say to those guys is sorry for all the images I unintentionally photo bombed throughout Hope Week.
What Hope Week really showed me, was how powerful gestures from a brand as big and recognizable as the Twins can mean to people who serve(d) the country in the military, are sick or even just down on their luck.
A great example was Carl Pavano’s fishing outing on Thursday. At least it was supposed to be fishing with kids from various disadvantaged youth groups, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and the event got rained out.
We moved everything to a building at a nearby park, but I expected to see a whole lot of disappointed kids. Instead, there wasn’t a single person there, kids, players and volunteers that wasn’t smiling from ear to ear.
I left the week clearly reminded that while we all have plenty of reasons to be down because of our hardships in life, relishing in life’s great moments such as those that happened during Hope Week can leave memories that make every day more enjoyable.
As Pavano put it about Hope Week, “We’re all in this thing together and it’s a nice way to reach out and say thank you.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Often times I have groups come to the ballpark before gates open to watch Twins players take batting practice. It’s fun for people to watch the smooth swing of Joe Mauer up close. People appreciate us doing this because it is an exclusive opportunity. They feel special for being allowed on the field before the general public can enter the stadium. There is also the rare chance that a Twins player will come over and sign items for them.
My job requires me to escort these groups down to the field and make sure they follow the rules we set for them. I stand there as if I have been there a thousand times before. What people don’t know is that some of them have done it more than I have. It is not only fun for them, but fun for me as well. I don’t have much interaction with the players, so to see them up close on the field is just as special for me. When I am not chatting with the group I am paying attention to the players taking cuts and fielding ground balls. Not many people can say part of their job is watching major league baseball players take batting practice. As an intern I only have a limited amount of time to enjoy this perk, and it is something that I quietly enjoy. (At least until I blogged about it)
Twins Hope Week came to a conclusion last Friday afternoon as dozens of kids from the local programs People Serving People, CommonBond, and Mary’s Place filed into Target Field for an opportunity to play games on the field with the Minnesota Twins.
The day began with the kids sitting in the seats in right field beaming with anticipation. The rest of the volunteers and I handed out Hope Week T-shirts to the crowd of kids and prepared them for the day’s events. The group was divided into five smaller groups that corresponded with the stations on the field. In left field there were two games of whiffle ball, in center field the kids played Frisbee, right field was host to a giant kickball game and home plate was reserved for kids and players to compete in a home run derby with PlayStation’s MLB “The Show” on the huge left field scoreboard!
As soon as the players joined the kids of the field, I knew this was going to be a day that nobody involved would soon forget. The kids spent the rest of the hour running around the outfield, getting all of the autographs they could and using T.C. Bear as a jungle gym. The most impressive part of the whole thing was how involved all of the players were. It was refreshing and reassuring to see a team that was so dedicated on the field be just as dedicated to causes off of the field.
Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau played kickball all day, Josh Willingham and Brian Dozier played a giant game of frisbee, and Trevor Plouffe taught the little ones how to hold and swing a bat during whiffle ball. That’s just to name a few as every Twins player took part in the event.
I even found myself a new friend who I piggy backed around the entire field until we got every last players autograph on her t-shirt, she even wanted mine! All in all the day was one that was completely unforgettable. There really is no better feeling knowing that for one day you were able to make life a little better for people in need. I truly enjoyed my time volunteering this week and am proud to be a part of an organization that so thoroughly enjoys giving back to the community.
At least that was the plan until it looked dark as night with cloud cover at 10 a.m. and oh, by the way the fishing was supposed to start at 10:30.
All the Twins representatives went to the pier hoping that the storm would push through quickly enough so that the kids could still fish, but ultimately mother nature won the day and we had to move on to plan B.
Calm, cool and collected, everybody from the Twins and Tix for Tots kids moved over to Byrant Square Park which was just a few blocks away and had the event at the building there.
The kids got their Subway lunch and then Carl and the Twins players came over and hung out with the group and signed autographs. There wasn’t a single kid in the room without a smile on his or her face.
Finally, the kids were presented with rods and reels so they can go fishing on a day with more accommodating weather, and a fishing professional talked with them for a few minutes giving fishing advice.
It certainly wasn’t the event we hoped for, but the delight the kids showed made it all seem very worthwhile and I’m sure it still will be a great lasting memory for all of them for years to come.
In the three months that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the Twins Community Fund my favorite event, by far, took place this Wednesday. As part of our Hope Week festivities, I had the pleasure of planning a pizza party for kids with long-term illnesses from Gillette Children’s hospitals. Hope Week is the Twins Community Fund’s annual community service extravaganza, involving Twins players, season ticket holders, and staff.
The planning for this event started nearly three weeks ago, when all of the Community Affairs staff sat in a meeting room and started brainstorming about how we could best show the community what the Twins spirit is all about. I volunteered to organize a pizza party featuring Joe Mauer as a special host for some deserving kids who’ve had a tough lifetime with illness and surgeries.
We asked Gillette’s to nominate 10 children and their families, but we kept the fact Joe would be attending a secret. Needless to say, when Joe and several players who’d dropped by to show support stepped in, the kids were blown away! The smiles were bright and enthusiastic, and the kids could barely focus on eating their delicious Davanni’s pizza!
It was so heartwarming to talk to some of the kids’ parents after the event. One in particular told me how her son truly appreciated this event more than he could express. She told me how difficult his week had been, with all the treatments he was receiving. She said that when they got in the car that morning and drove past the hospital, he thought she’d missed the turn. When he found out their true destination, he could barely contain his excitement. It’s stories like those that make this internship one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever been a part of!
The second annual Twins Hope Week is underway and I had the privilege to organize and carry out one of the events. On Tuesday, Ron Gardenhire, former Twins Kent Hrbek and Tim Laudner, Twins players, front office staff and even T.C. Bear traveled to the VA Hospital in Minneapolis to mingle with some veterans. The VA Hospital was chosen as the setting of the event because Gardy’s father was in the military, so he has made a habit of visiting veterans whenever the opportunity arises.
Gardy, the alumni, players, and the Bear all chatted with veterans who were mobile enough to come to a common room. They signed autographs, took pictures, and were in a couple interviews. After 45 minutes they made their way to the Spinal Cord Injury Clinic, which one of the patients proudly informed us was one of the best in the nation.
Since I had been so concerned about everything going as planned, I hadn’t thought much about how the veterans would respond. When I went to the Spinal Cord Injury Clinic I was really struck by the reactions of the veterans. They explained how grateful they were and I heard one man talk about how much fun it was to have visitors, because sometimes his days in the clinic become mundane. What I was also very struck by was how grateful Gardy and other current/former Twins were in return. I was so concerned about the logistics of the event, the special interactions caught me off guard a bit.
The event was a success and, for me, the cherry on top was exiting the hospital and seeing TC Bear by himself looking for his car in the huge parking lot. Sort of a different spin on a bear being lost in the woods and certainly not something you see every day!
In today’s world with all the distractions it is very easy to lose sight of what really is important and how lucky some of us really have it. One thing that Hope Week does is tries to put it all in perspective for us and reminds us to not take what we do have for granted.
Last Monday, alongside about 25 other Twins Front Office members I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity to help restore the face of a North Minneapolis home that was damaged when a tornado rolled through just over a year ago. At my location the homeowner was a single father of four young kids. As you can imagine, finding time to give his home a facelift isn’t easy to do.
Our group spent the day scraping off old toxic lead based paint from the house, priming the house then applying the first coat of paint. Our team leaders from Habitat for Humanity did a great job in helping us. Even Twins mascot T.C. Bear got in on the action!
I knew there would be a feel good aspect to participating in this but didn’t think it would be as rewarding and fun as it ended up being. This was a great event to support our community and for the Twins to give back to people in need in Twins Territory.
Hey Twins Fans, Guess What? It’s officially here, a week that everyone with the Minnesota Twins organization looks forward to with great joy. HOPE WEEK! In the spirit of Hope week, I just wanted to tell you guys a little about my involvement with the Twins Wives Organization and one of the various causes they are involved with. I’m the Human Resources Intern this year and I have the privilege to assist the Twins Wives with some of their charitable endeavors in the community. Since April, I’ve helped out the wives to sell their cookbooks at Target Field on the main concourse.
The cookbook is one of the wives new endeavors this season. They are filled with recipes from players and coaches with all the proceeds benefitting local charities. The local charity the wives are currently working with is the Minnesota Military Family Foundation. This is where the proceeds from the cookbook sales and the upcoming event “Hang with the Majors” will be going too. The Military Family Foundation assists military families who make many sacrifices both emotional and economical when their loved ones are deployed.
Since we started to sell these cookbooks on the main concourse, I’ve seen people become more interested in what the wives are doing and getting more informed. It’s funny because they are a lot of people who have followed the Twins for a while and are still not aware of how involved the Minnesota Twins as an organization is involved in the community. I thought I’d shed some light this week on the Minnesota Twins Involvement in the community; especially seeing that it is HOPE WEEK. The Twins are so involved and passionate about impacting our surrounding communities that we have dedicated a whole week to giving back to these communities that have supported us.
I mentioned earlier, the “Hang with the Majors” and it’s actually one of our Hope Week events for today (June 11th). It’s an event that has been put on for a few years now. It’s a two-part event led by Carl Pavano and Nick Blackburn that will be held at Toby Keith’s in St. Louis Park. The evening will include a dinner event and Twins players as celebrity bartenders. Other players will also be available at several different stations to autographs items and etc. I get to set-up and help throughout the event and I’m beyond excited about it. I have heard good things about the events and I can’t wait to experience it for myself. It’s going to be a busy busy day and even busier week, but we are thrilled that this week is here yet again.
I hope you guys join participate in some way in our HOPE WEEK events and if you can’t, go out in your own community and volunteer your time in some way and how and give back to your various communities.