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Kevin Schnepf, Published October 07 2010

Schnepf: Twins, Moss create city of lights

MINNEAPOLIS - Among the sea of red, white and blue Minnesota Twins baseball jerseys roaming Target Field Plaza on Wednesday was Chris Strandlie of Walker.

He was wearing a purple Minnesota Vikings football jersey No. 84 … as in Randy Moss, the all-pro wide receiver whose trade to the Vikings startled the sports world Wednesday.

As outdoor postseason baseball returned to Minneapolis for the first time in 40 years, so did Moss – who started his National Football League career with the Vikings 12 years ago.

So what was bigger news, Moss or the Twins?

“I think the signing of Moss has to be,” said Strandlie, the Cass County attorney who is a diehard Twins and Vikings fan. “Unfortunately, it’s overshadowing the Twins a little bit.”

It was light-years ago (Oct. 4, 1970, to be exact) when the Twins last hosted a playoff game under sunlight and starlight. Add Moss to the mixture and Minneapolis indeed became the city of lights Wednesday.

As sunlight, starlight, moonlight, television spotlights, Bud Lights and Miller Lights drenched Target Field, the national sports spotlight was arguably never brighter on Minnesota.

The New York City media and TBS were here to provide prime-time coverage of Game 1 of the American League Division Series – in which the Twins lost 6-4 to the mighty New York Yankees. No doubt, the New York City press will be writing about Moss – who will play for the Vikings in next Monday night’s nationally televised game against the New York Jets.

Clyde Doepner, the team curator for the Minnesota Twins, simply chuckled when Moss was mentioned. His daughter-in-law works for the Vikings.

“I called her once I heard the news about Moss and asked her, ‘How dare you one-up us on not only the headlines of the sports, but the headlines of the news?’ ” Doepner said with a smirk.

The news certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of Doepner, who as a high school junior attended the very first Minnesota Twins home game in 1961 with his dad. That was at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington – decades later replaced by the tourist attraction we now know as the Mall of America.

When the Twins made the move from outdoors to indoors at the downtown Metrodome in 1982, Doepner collected any Twins memorabilia that was going to be thrown away.

Today, he has collected more than 7,000 Twins items, some of which are displayed at Target Field – the $545 million palace where there has been only one rainout and one suspended game this season.

“Imagine how many days like this we would miss if we were still in the dome,” Doepner said. “Sure, you can be talking to me three weeks from now and we could be shuffling our feet through snow. But outdoors, this is the way baseball is supposed to be played.”

Seventy-year-old Bernard Brommer of suburban Oakdale couldn’t agree more.

Growing up in the southwestern Minnesota town of Ellsworth, he remembers the days of listening to the radio as the Twins played the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1965 World Series. He remembers attending a 1977 game at the old Met on a hot July day and witnessing the batting average of Hall of Famer Rod Carew creep over the magical .400 mark.

“I remember driving up to Metropolitan Stadium and seeing that ballpark rise out in the middle of the prairie,” Brommer said. “I never thought I would see the day of outdoor baseball returning to Minnesota.”

It has. And so has Moss – whose return has Viking fanatics talking Super Bowl again. So what is more realistic, the Vikings winning a Super Bowl or the Twins winning their third World Series?

“I like the Twins’ chances,” said Brommer, who remembers linking arms with his children in his Duluth home watching Viking games. “We never had our prayers answered.”

Mark Herrala, a 53-year-old Twins fan who lives near Elk River, admits he’s not a Vikings fan.

“The Twins will win another World Series before the Vikings will ever win a Super Bowl – with or without Moss,” said Herrala, who along with his wife, Judy, have attended more than 50 Twins games at Target Field this season.

They love the stadium so much, there’s been times security has had to kick them out long after the game has ended.

“We will sit there until the lights are turned out,” he said.

It was anything but dark on Wednesday. Lights, camera, action. Moss and the Twins will surely be big news again today.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or kschnepf@forumcomm.com