The squirrel at the ballgame
At about noon one day last week, I decided on a whim to head down to see the Twins play the Tigers at Target Field.
It was pretty much a Toothbrush Trip, where you grab a toothbrush and go.
I didn't have a ticket, but you can scalp those on the street.
It was too late to call anybody to join me at the park, but that's okay. Some of my best baseball memories come when I go to a game alone and quietly soak it all in.
I determined ahead of time not to buy the first ticket available on the street. I am a sucker for con artists, and my first reaction to a scalper is to feel sorry for him.
This time, I had a map of the seats and I was going to stand up for my interests.
The first guy with tickets was so nice and called me buddy and convinced me that this ticket was right behind home plate.
He was selling the ticket for face value, which seemed cheap enough, so I bit.
When I got into the ball park and started to look for Section 330, it was nowhere near home plate.
After asking an usher for help, I ended up four rows from the back of the upper deck in left field.
Ripped off again.
Was I angry? Nah. There isn't a bad seat in the place. The view from the upper deck was absolutely spectacular. The only thing you couldn't see was the left field fence, which was just below.
Although the rest of the stadium was sweltering, there was just enough of a breeze in the upper deck to keep one cool. The seat was, in the end, ideal.
I wasn't alone for long. As the game began, a couple I knew from up north took their seats two rows down. What are the chances?
I swapped seats to sit by them. One member of the couple is from Norway and the other from Russia, so whether they were interested or not, I spent the first few innings explaining every play to them.
The game started with four crucial flubs on the field by the Twins. Only one mistake was recorded as an error, but for a team which is supposed to do everything right all the time, it didn't look good.
Eventually, the Twins' bats woke up. Mauer and Valencia hit identical ground-rule doubles which bounced over the wall below.
The Twins began to chisel away at the Tigers' three-run lead.
The Twins' gloves got better, too. Jason Repko made a leaping catch against the left field fence. We couldn't see the play, but it gave me chills to have the entire stadium look our way and roar when the catch was made.
All through the game, a little old lady with her hair in a bun just in front of us added her baseball commentary to mine. She knew her stuff, so I had to be careful with my facts.
Then things got interesting, both on and off the field.
As the Twins started the rally that would give them the win, a little rodent crawled onto the neck of the little old lady. I thought sure it was a bat, except it had a tail.
The woman seemed not to realize she had a critter on her neck. I yelled for her to sit still. I intended to grab the thing by the tail and whip it over the back of the upper deck before it bit her on the neck.
Just as I was about to make the grab, the woman reached behind her neck, grabbed the rodent and stuffed it into her bra.
"Don't worry," she said. "It is just a four-week old flying squirrel. I had to bring it along because it still needs feeding."
I eventually convinced the woman to pull the squirrel out from her bra for a picture. I knew nobody would believe me unless I had evidence.
The lady obliged. After the photo session, she put the squirrel in her front pocket where it peeked out oh-so-cute.
Later the lady passed the squirrel around to the surrounding fans, who by this time were not watching the game at all.
The Twins won, but I didn't figure out how until I found a box score.