"Gardy's office is like Bill Gates' office!" Torii Hunter told reporters, in awe of Target Field's amenities. Gardy gave Torii a special tour of the ballpark early Friday afternoon.
"This is almost better—this is better than Yankee Stadium," Torii said. "You can see why guys get there at 1:30 every day. They were playing video games, they were all happy, eating lunch—they have a chef now. I said, 'What did you guys do, spend the night here?'
"This is definitely a dream. They dropped me off in the players' parking lot and I was walking up, I was like in shock—could not believe how beautiful this stadium was on the outside. And then I walked inside, just walked through the home side, the clubhouse, I was in tears.”
Torii might have been one of the most popular Twins for many years, but I was always more of a Jacque Jones person myself. I was still interested, however, to see what Torii would say about Target Field. More specifically, I wanted to see if he would regret leaving the Twins for more money elsewhere. Obviously, he wouldn’t tell the media if he did think that—he could only say that indirectly. He could only say something like "I'm going to tell Denard, say: 'You blessed. You don't know how blessed you are. You better be thankful. Y'all better stop complaining.'”
While the Angels were warming up before Friday night’s game, I looked around for Torii—but he was conspicuously absent.
After the Angels left the field, however, I noticed a player come out to warm up alone.
One of the things I was curious to see was what the fan reaction to Torii would be at Target Field. You may remember that Torii’s first game as an Angel was actually an away game against the Twins at the Metrodome back in 2008. The Twins played a special thank you video for Torii when he was announced in the lineup, and Twins fans cheered him the first time he came up to bat. After that, Torii was booed.
So was Target Field any different?
Here is the Angels’ lineup being announced on Friday night:
So yeah—I suppose it’s a lot easier to get over Torii being a traitor when he comes back crying after seeing how beautiful the Twins’ new ballpark is.
Torii was also cheered when he first came up to bat, but it was no “Jacque Jones returns” type ovation. However, the Twins did do something special for him. Watch Torii’s first at bat below:
Did you catch that? My instincts kicked in as soon as I heard it—Torii’s batting music from his last year as a Twin (“This is Why I’m Hot”). You can see Torii pause and say something to Joe Mauer when it starts to play. I've never heard batting music played for a non-Twin at a Twins home-game before.
Brian Duensing went on to pitch 8 marvelous innings of baseball, and the Twins beat the Angels 7-2. The loss pushed the Angels one game under .500, while the Twins are an amazing 20 games over .500.
Wonder what Torii thinks about that!