MINNEAPOLIS -- We've already covered the top Twins moments at the Metrodome. But how about the top moments caused by the Metrodome? You know, those sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating, but always unique circumstances created by the club's former stadium and its air-inflated white roof.
Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay has its share of balls that get trapped by the catwalks encircling the area under its roof, but otherwise, the era of the permanently covered baseball stadium appears to be at its end.
That means the era of these "Only at the Metrodome" moments is unlikely to repeat itself in the Majors anytime soon -- and let's have a look back at the best of them all.
May 4, 1984: Kingman hits a ball... that never comes down
What goes up must come down, right? Well, not quite.
Particularly high fly balls and popups sometimes struck the speakers hanging from the roof, but those would usually just impact the arc of those balls and cause them to ricochet every which way. For example, Chili Davis saw a potential home run carom off a speaker in 1992 -- and fall into the glove of a waiting fielder for an out. But how do you handle it when the ball just never comes down?
It didn't take too long to find out the answer after the the Twins relocated to the 'Dome in '82. With Frank Viola on the mound with the A's in town, Oakland designated hitter Dave Kingman hit a towering popup that actually disappeared into a hole in the roof included as part of a drainage system. He was eventually awarded a ground-rule double, and according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Twins first baseman Mickey Hatcher spent the remainder of the game peeking up at the roof to make sure the ball wouldn't come back down.
Aug. 29, 1992: Power outage delays a game
Remember when the lights went out at Tropicana Field in 2019 and caused some brief chaos? Well, that happened at the Metrodome, too. During the third inning of a summer contest against the Yankees, the lights inside the stadium began to flicker before four banks of them suddenly went out, plunging the game into a 23-minute delay. They didn't even have cell phones with lights back then for fans to have fun in the relative darkness.
May 27 and July 15, 1997: Lawton takes a fly ball off his head... twice
The Metrodome was a particularly tough place to be an outfielder considering the combined impact of both the white fabric of the roof and the powerful lights that illuminated the playing surface. The occasional blooper is understandable -- and even to be expected. Still, longtime Twins outfielder Matt Lawton had a particularly rough go of things during the 1997 season, when he got conked on the noggin by not one, but two fly balls, less than two months apart.
With the Mariners visiting the 'Dome on May 27, designated hitter Edgar Martínez hooked a sharp line drive to right field, and Lawton lost the ball and took it off his cap. It shot over to center field, where it was fielded by center fielder Rich Becker and ruled an RBI single. Somehow, it happened again on July 15, when Ray Durham of the White Sox hit a drive to left, Lawton came in a bit too far, and the ball caromed off his head to the warning track for a two-base, two-run error. Ouch.
Aug. 5, 2001: Air conditioning outage creates indoor heat wave
The weather inside the Metrodome always made for fantastic conditions in which to play ball. Well, almost always. Amid a brutal heat wave around Minnesota with dangerous heat indexes across the state, an equipment failure at the Hennepin County Energy Center shut off the air conditioning at several major facilities in Downtown Minneapolis, including the Hennepin County Medical Center, the county jail and the Metrodome, according to an Associated Press report from the time.
The temperature inside the Metrodome topped out at 91 degrees that day during a 10-5 loss to the Royals -- without the possibility of a hint of a breeze to ease fans' suffering.
May 30, 2002: Guardado's diving catch
Not all of these have to be bloopers -- this one was actually quite the impressive feat. With Twins closer "Everyday Eddie" Guardado on the mound in the ninth inning, Angels designated hitter Tim Salmon popped a ball way up into foul territory, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski didn't really put up a serious fight for the ball, thinking it was headed out of play. But when the popup suddenly caromed off one of the speakers hanging from the Metrodome ceiling and bounced back toward the field of play, Guardado raced off the mound into the foul territory down the first-base line and sprawled out for an impromptu diving catch.
They say a pitcher should leave the popups to his infielders? Take that.
Oct. 2, 2004: Curfew rule suspends game
Seeing as it was a multipurpose facility that was simultaneously home of the Twins, Vikings and Golden Gophers, the Metrodome got rather busy towards the end of a baseball season, as both the NFL and NCAA football seasons got underway. On one notable occasion, that did prove to be an issue.
The Twins started their Oct. 2 game against Cleveland at 11:10 a.m. so that they could get the contest out of the way ahead of a 7 p.m. Gophers kickoff against Penn State, with a 2:30 p.m. "curfew" cutoff so that the Metrodome grounds crew would have enough time to change the field from baseball to football configuration, which typically took around four hours. The problem: Minnesota and Cleveland played extras that day, with a 5-5 tie persisting through 11 innings, at which point the teams had to cease play to make room for football.
Fortunately, the Twins had long since clinched the division at that point, and the suspended game was completed the next day with a walk-off double by Michael Cuddyer in the bottom of the 12th. (At least the Gophers also won, 16-7.)