Twin Cities protest Twins' contraction

Talk of team-trimming has Minnesota fans digging in

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2001

MINNEAPOLIS -- Wearing her favorite Kent Hrbek-signed baseball earrings, Shirley Fisher spent Sunday standing in the rain outside the Metrodome with thousands of other Twins fans to say that Minnesota needs baseball.

Major league owners want to eliminate two teams next season. If the Twins are one of them, Fisher is finished with baseball.

''I'll never go to Wisconsin. I'll never go to Cooperstown. I'll never spend another nickel on baseball again,'' she said.

Fisher attended the ''Keep the Twins at Home'' rally with her sister.

The two attend dozens of Twins games a year. They were at the World Series in 1987 and 1991. And they went to upstate New York this summer, to see former stars Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield inducted into the Hall of Fame.

''It's just such a shame,'' Fisher said. ''Baseball is America. It's apple pie and family.''

Petition gatherers were busy as politicians, athletes and fans shared their Twins loyalty with the crowd from U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone and Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch to Twins great Tony Oliva and current player Corey Koskie.

Together, the crowd turned away from the Metrodome and faced East to chant, ''Save our Twins'' toward the direction of baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who lives in Milwaukee, Wis., and formerly owned the Brewers.

And when asked if they would invite Selig over for Thanksgiving, there was a bellowing, ''No!''

The grass-roots group ''Keep the Twins at Home'' hopes to gather tens of thousands of signatures on petitions in support of the Twins. The group has sent red, white and blue ''Twins Fans Vans'' across the state. And on the Internet, more than 27,000 of the petitions have been downloaded, group organizers said.

The group had some good news Friday when a district judge ordered the Twins to play its 2002 home schedule in the Metrodome. Twins owner Carl Pohlad also was ordered not to sell the team unless the new owner agrees to have the team play its 2002 home schedule in the ballpark.

Karen Sneed still has her hotel reservations to watch the Twins in spring training next year. Sneed was 6 years old when the Twins arrived in 1961 and she's been a fan since. She listened to games on the radio with her dad and now brings her own daughter to spring training.

''People don't realize that baseball is more than just about money,'' Sneed said. ''It's tradition. It's part of summer.''

She said Gov. Jesse Ventura and state lawmakers are at fault for not helping to get a new stadium. And Pohlad is simply a ''sellout,'' Sneed said as her 11-year-old daughter, Sara, held a sign that read ''God Bless + Save our Minnesota Twins.''

''There's a lot of people who vote,'' Sneed said. ''And this year, we're keeping track.''

A Twins fan for 20 years, Tim Hanson said the team's surprise season this year revived his excitement in the team.

Holding a ''Kirby for Governor'' sign, he said it's disappointing that the community hasn't backed a new stadium with tax money and that Pohlad won't spend some of his millions to keep the team that's just beginning to make noise again.

''I sort of feel ashamed in the community for not supporting the team with a stadium,'' said Hanson, of Minneapolis. ''Instead, they want a couple extra bucks.''



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