Flashback Friday: Twins play their first game in Minnesota 59 years ago this week | KSTP.com

Flashback Friday: Twins play their first game in Minnesota 59 years ago this week

Metropolitan Stadium on April 21, 1961. Photo: Courtesy of Star Tribune Archives. Metropolitan Stadium on April 21, 1961.

Tommy Wiita
Updated: April 24, 2020 01:01 PM
Created: April 23, 2020 10:37 AM

On April 21, 1961, the Minnesota Twins played the franchise's first Opening Day game in front of their new home fans at Metropolitan Stadium. 

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune states a total of 24,606 filled the seats to watch the Twins lose to the new Washington Senators, 5-3. The newspaper noted the game ended in high drama, as the Twins were able to load the bases with one out. Minnesota's Hal Naragon and Pete Whisenant were retired, however, by Senators pitcher Dave Sisler.

The Twins, who had spent their first 60 years of existence as the Washington Senators, had won their first game as the Twins on April 11, in the Bronx as they defeated the New York Yankees 6-0

In the deal that sent the original Senators to the Twin Cities, Washington was able to receive an expansion team to take the Twins' place. That team would eventually become the Texas Rangers.

Although the team couldn't seize the victory, there were some bright spots on that April 21 day. According to historical archives, Twins rookie first-baseman Don Mincher hit a two-run home run 402 feet to straightaway center field, and Lenny Green tied the game with a solo home run in the eighth inning. 

One fan told The Minneapolis Star after the game, "Well, you can't win them all." But it wasn't the game that fans were focused on. It was the fact Minnesota finally had a Major League Baseball team. 

View of a Minnesota Twins game from the upper deck of Metropolitan Stadium, early 1960s. Photograph by Robert Rydeen. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

"Spectators arrived in the sun and 63-degree temperature, but the area soon clouded over and stayed that way. So did the game," a column in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune reads.

Police said that traffic to the game flowed smoothly, as all cars were reported parked 10 minutes before first pitch. According to historical archives, fans were generous during the game, even cheering on great plays made by the opposing team. 

The governor at the time, Elmer L. Andersen, threw out the game's first pitch. 

"I'm just as excited as anybody in this stadium," he told the Minneapolis Morning Tribune. "See that fine bunch of clean-cut young fellows. Our Minnesota youngsters have a whole new group of stars to idolize." 

The fans were the biggest highlight that day. A 69-year-old farmer from Harold had hired a man to help him with the oats, so he could get away for the opener. A delegation of 66 self-claimed "baseball nuts" came by bus from Menomonie, Wisconsin. And some teachers willingly acknowledged that some students would be absent from school on that Friday due to the game.

"This, plus the yellow-smeared hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, hot coffee, beer, a seventh-inning organ rendition of the Mexican clapping song and some muddied parking lots, was the opening of major league baseball in Minnesota," the Minneapolis Morning Tribune reads.

"The team didn't win, but the crowd was big league."

Watch the video below to see a recap on the day's looks and sounds.

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