ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- St. Paul's Lutheran School is a private school in the small city of New Ulm, Minn., 97 miles southwest of Target Field, but the Twins have a history of making memorable visits.Pete Markgraf is in his first year as the principal of St. Paul's Lutheran School,
ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- St. Paul's Lutheran School is a private school in the small city of New Ulm, Minn., 97 miles southwest of Target Field, but the Twins have a history of making memorable visits.
Pete Markgraf is in his first year as the principal of St. Paul's Lutheran School, but his father previously held the post for 26 years and has recounted visits from Joe Mauer and Kirby Puckett. This time, the Twins not only brought along manager Rocco Baldelli, Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario, but they also had them lead students in various baseball drills in the school's gymnasium.
"These kids will never have another opportunity like that," Markgraf said. "I really appreciate what they've done and I'm really excited about how much the kids are going to be, in the future, looking at the Twins a little bit more."
Around 120 third to sixth graders did agility drills, hit wiffle balls, pitched at a target and practiced grounders with the help of Twins "Play Ball" event staff. Rosario and Berrios gave kids hands-on instruction as they hit balls off tees, while Baldelli was stationed at the pitching station.
"Especially at this age, I think you're going to reach the kids in a different way than for them to just sit there and think," Markgraf said. "'Wow, they came and got me going,' and now they're going to be thinking more about it. The running around at this age level is an awesome idea."
Markgraf's students that fell outside of the age group were disappointed at missing out on the activities, but Twins mascot T.C. Bear saved the day, joining younger students outside to play soccer and basketball before the team bus pulled out of the parking lot.
Hundred-year-old superfan gets to meet her favorite Twin
Twins superfan Nita celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 12, and she has barely stopped smiling since she was told that the Twins and her favorite player, Rosario, were coming to see her.
Nita couldn't have received a better birthday present than finally getting the chance to meet Rosario on the Twins Winter Caravan's Tuesday night stop at the St. Cloud River's Edge Convention Center.
"He's just so enthusiastic," she said. "He reminded me so much of my son in the days we played baseball, from the time he could hold a bat until he decided not to go professional."
Nita has been a fan of the Twins since the franchise moved from Washington in 1961, but she hasn't been able to make it to Target Field. Her husband didn't like to drive in cities, and it became more difficult for them to reach the team when the Twins moved away from Metropolitan Stadium, in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis.
That hasn't stopped Nita from watching every Twins game -- with her intense fandom even taking her caretakers aback at times.
"I thoroughly enjoy the Twins, and if you could only hear me over the television when I'm clapping and hollering," she said. "People kind of think I must be crazy, but I grew up in a baseball family, so I just know baseball."
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.