A Slice of Life
The place was absolutely crazy. The noise was deafening. The packed stadium went wild as the baseball soared over the centerfield fence at the old Metrodome in Minneapolis. Put four on the board for the Minnesota Twins!
It was a World Series game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek sent the crowd into a frenzy with thousands of enthusiastic fans twirling those white cloths above their heads. It was 1987, the year of the Homer Hanky.
Sports fans find all sorts of ways to show enthusiastic support for their favorite team. There’s special chants, foot stomping, loud cheering, signs, virtually anything that’s favorable to the home team and maybe even a little intimating, annoying perhaps, to the visitors.
That was the thinking behind the Homer Hanky which proved to be the biggest hit for Twins fans, other than having their team in the Series, since Mudcat Grant beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in game one of the 1967 fall classic at old Metropolitan Stadium. A bit of history here, that’s now the location of the Mall of America.
That bit of trivia aside, it’s baseball, especially playoff baseball, that brings out fan loyalty by the buckets full. It’s wonderful.
I was in the stands for Hrbek’s monstrous home run, a real game changer. It was a special time in so many ways. It was my first World Series game, and I had my dad alongside me. Better yet, I think he was the most excited fan in the place.
When the Twins loaded the bases, the entire crowd knew they had a chance to break the game open. As Hrbek was leaving the on-deck circle and heading to the plate I was about to tear the wrapper off a Grand Slam candy bar. Dad put a hand on my right shoulder just as a fan behind me grabbed my left shoulder. In unison they said, “Hold it up!”
With that dad grabbed my Homer Hanky and began twirling it. I was waving a Grand Slam candy bar. The fan on my left gave me a thumbs up. It was a little Slice of Life, a great memory of a great moment in Twins history!
When the Twins made their way through the playoffs and into the World Series again in 1991 the Homer Hanky came back too. When the hanky was first introduced in 1987, they were snapped up quickly by rabid fans who liked the idea. They became hard to get. A second printing was necessary to meet demand.
The 1991 Homer Hanky, a simple white cloth with a Twins logo on it, was smaller than its predecessor but just as popular. When the Twins took the field in the Metrodome against the Atlanta Braves it seemed every fan in the building was waving one. Incidentally, the Twins won both World Series.
This year the Twins are in the playoffs again. They even broke an 18-game postseason record losing streak. How far they will go I cannot say, but there’s a new Homer Hanky being waved at Target Field. It’s red, not white, but Twins fans seem to be just as enthusiastic about them as they were in ‘87 and ‘91.
I hope fans get plenty of chances to wave them. Baseball creates memories and fans want to be a part of that. I understand it. I’ve outgrown Grand Slam candy bars, but fathers and fans and special moments make for special games, and memories that last forever.