DETROIT -- The Twins' hope throughout the 2009 season was that when they played their final regular season series inside the Metrodome against the Royals, there would be meaningful baseball taking place. And as the club closes a chapter in its history by saying goodbye to the place it's called home for the past 28 years, the Twins will do so with a postseason berth on the line. This weekend's series against the Royals will mark the final three games inside the Metrodome before the Twins move over to their new ballpark, Target Field, for the start of the 2010 season. And while Minnesota will try to rally from a two game deficit behind Detroit in the American League Central with three games to play, there will also be plenty of celebrations taking place to honor the last homestand at the Dome.
Many former Twins players who played a significant roles in the history of the Metrodome, as well as former employees and stadium staff, will be on hand to help say goodbye. "It's going to be bittersweet," said Kent Hrbek. "There will probably be tears shed because I made my livelihood in the Dome. Yeah, it will be sad to see it go. But then as a fan, as a person watching the game now, it will be awesome to watch the game in that new stadium and I'll be ready to start some new memories in that place." On Friday night, the Twins will kick off the weekend's festivities by honoring the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) employees who have helped to serve the team's fans since the Metrodome opened back in 1982. An MSFC representative will throw the first pitch while Wally "The Beer Man" McNeil, who has become a staple during Twins games inside the Metrodome, will turn the number on the Twins countdown to outdoor baseball, removing the No. 3 to mark the fact that only two more games remain in the Dome. On Saturday, the Twins will provide fans with a chance to take photos with many of the players who provided those favorite Metrodome memories. Saturday's contest, originally scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT, has been moved to a 3:10 p.m. start to accommodate the FOX broadcast. So the Twins have made changes to their original weekend schedule. The gates to the Metrodome will open at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the alumni photo sessions running from 1:30 until 2:30 p.m. Among the former players who will be available for pictures are Rick Aguilera, Chili Davis, Gary Gaetti, Corey Koskie, Paul Molitor, Jack Morris, Brad Radke and Frank Viola. Prior to Saturday's game, Viola will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. All of the weekend's celebrations will lead up to Sunday when the Twins will mark their final contest inside the Metrodome with a special hour-long postgame ceremony to celebrate the memorable 28-year run the team has had in the building. During the ceremony, the Twins will honor the members of the All-Metrodome team, the 1987 and '91 World Series champion teams and the AL Central championship teams from 2002, '03, '04 and '06. They will also unveil the final selections of the Metrodome Moments countdown. With so many fans wanting to be in attendance for the final games, the Twins will raise the curtain in the upper deck on Saturday and Sunday. They are expecting close to 45,000 fans on Friday and more than 50,000 for each of the final two games under the Dome's famed Teflon roof. The final game is sold out. "This is bound to be one of the most exciting weekends in Twins' history at the Metrodome," said Kevin Smith, Twins executive director of public affairs. "Former players, a pennant race and more than 130,000 fans will provide the send off the Dome deserves."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.