By Randy Krzmarzick
I was in at Sleepy Eye Repair last week. Uber-mechanic Pete Schumacher called me over and asked if I knew what I was doing 30 years ago that day. "Pete, I don't know what I did yesterday." Pete said I would remember this day. It turns out that on April 6, 1982, the Twins played their first game in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
Oh, yeah - the 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol had predicted for me. I did not actually attend that game; rather I circled it. I somehow convinced my young wife that we should protest the advent of indoor baseball to Minnesota. Our small dissent may have passed quietly had we not ended up in a large Minneapolis Star Tribune photo the next day.
Since I can remember, I've loved the game of baseball. Despite playing ball in April snow flurries, I never thought that you should extract the sky and the wind and the grass from the game. I suppose it's "baseball" inside. It's like when you were a little kid, and your mom announces the "picnic will be inside" because of the weather. C'mon Mom, that's not a picnic.
I also happened to be an intern at the Capitol in 1976 when the Metrodome was being debated. Watching that sausage being made didn't help my feelings toward the Dome.
I think Pam has often wondered how she could possibly have agreed to join my demonstration. She even helped make protest signs! Since, I have suggested other crazy-to-stupid ideas that Pam has declined. But, then, were young and in love; I guess that's the excuse she'd use. So we dropped off our baby at my parents' and headed to the Cities. By then Sylvester and Alyce were used to my crazy-to-stupid ideas.
First we picked up our college friend Sandy; Sandy was game for anything and probably would have jumped off a cliff if it looked anything at all like a party. I told Pam and Sandy about the large throng that they would be part of, and that we would blend right in.
When we got to the Dome, the throng turned out to be, well, three of us. The Save the Met group that had fought to preserve Metropolitan Stadium originally planned to be there. But they changed their plans and decided to tailgate en masse at the old parking lot in Bloomington while listening to the game on the radio.
We were bundled up pretty good. (Game time temp was 70 in the Dome and 28 outside; this did not help my argument for outdoor baseball.) And we had the signs and we were there. So what the heck, off we marched around the Dome. We did meet one other guy with a sign. His made a reference to the end of the world being near. He kind of looked at us like we were nuts.
Fifty two thousand scurried past us to get warm inside. Many had positive things to say and agreed that Twins baseball would never be the same. We also had our detractors. Lots of folks seemed to think we should get jobs. Others suggested we should give it up. And a few thought we should go to a very warm place that rhymes with Jerry Bell. One particularly vociferous fan laying into us turned out to be a store owner from Sleepy Eye. He did a double take when he saw it was customers and sidled off in another direction.
There were quite a few media there, and we talked to someone from Minnesota Public Radio. A photographer came up and asked our names, and said he liked the photo he had just taken of us. When it was all said and done, Sandy, Pam, and I went to warm up and have a beer. We agreed it was a unique evening, that it beat setting home, and figured that was the end of it.
The next morning, I was outside working on some machinery. Big brother Dale came driving into the yard, and said to me, "Whatdidyoudo?" He may have added a few colorful adverbs and adjectives in there. He had been to town early for coffee. That day's Star Tribune had arrived with our photo, and Dale had been given considerable grief about his younger brother's infamy.
I raced to town to buy a paper, and there it was: "As a guy hawked T-shirts, Randy and Pam Krzmarzick of Sleepy Eye, Minn., circled the Metrodome with signs of protest." The t-shirt the guy was holding up said, "I OPENED THE DOME." Next to him was Pam with a "LET THE SUN SHINE IN" sign, looking chilly with a stocking cap pulled over her ears and a big white scarf round her neck. Behind her, was her bearded husband in a Northrup King seed coat with a sign that said, "WELCOME TO CORPORATE BASEBALL."
Thirty years ago, the daily Minneapolis and St. Paul papers were widely read all across the state. Our little outing became a big deal. In today's vernacular, you would say it went "viral." We got calls from everyone we knew and some we didn't. For a few days, any trip to town turned into a conversation about our venture. Much as I liked talking about the evils of indoor baseball, even I grew tired of the attention. Finally, a bunker mentality came over Pam and me, and we just avoided going anywhere for a few days.
Ten years later, I went to my first game under the Teflon sky. My boycott ended when Lefty Lindmeier was able to get us on the field to record some interviews for a Brown County Historical Society project. Over the years, I made my peace with the place. Then two years ago Target Field opened. "Let the sun shine in."