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The gentlemen from Minnesota!
By Gordy Jones
Congratulations to All-Stars Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins. Both Joe and Glen are from the Twin Cities, and played high school ball at the same time. They are the same age – born one month apart. It’s nice that two Minnesota boys who have been friends for so long got to go to New York and represent their team.
Joe caught six innings and got a base hit; Glen wasn’t used, but was in awe of being part of such a star-studded bullpen. He got to reconnect with former teammates Jesse Crain and Joe Nathan. Known for his fun personality and zany humor, he told the Star Tribune it didn’t take long at all until he was back into the same jokes and routines he shared with those guys when they were Twins.
Joe Mauer’s parents and grandparents went to the game, and his mom and dad celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary there. Not many folks can say they celebrated an anniversary in New York watching their son play in an All-Star Game. How cool is that? Joe’s father and brother-in-law also attended the game, while his wife, Maddie, expecting twins, watched from the couch at home. “The game was a hoot!” exclaimed father-in-law John Bisanz. “It was hot, but we really had a good time!”
The man who decides whether the weather will hold up
I’ve written about many of the jobs surrounding baseball: the umpires, batboy, organ player, groundskeepers and announcers, but when Target Field opened in 2010, it brought a new position to Minnesota baseball. The Twins have their own meteorologist. His name is Craig Edwards, and he’s been a meteorologist for 41 years, 34 of them with the National Weather Service and seven with Public Radio.
Right behind the visitors’ on-deck circle, there is a photo well with a camera for TV, still photographers, head grounds-keeper Larry DiVito, and behind all of that, when the skies are clear, you’ll see Craig perched on his chair, watching the sky and, of course, the game. From the photo well, there is an aisle that goes under the seats, and about 35 feet from his seat is Craig’s weather room. Not only do the Twins subscribe to the most up-to-date satellite and lightning information services, but their stadium operations people who would move the fans to safety if needed, and the umpires who might delay a game, have Craig’s expert opinions to go on when inclement weather moves into the area.
Craig arrives at 5 p.m., for a 7:10 game and usually meets with head groundskeeper Larry DiVito at about 5:30; that’s when Larry has a little down time during batting practice. Larry was the first person to interview Craig before he came on board. Things worked out, and now they seem like life-long pals.
“I started in April of 2010 when the doors opened. I give direct weather information to Larry. We have a unique setup. Larry doesn’t have to watch the radar; he can manage his staff, get people positioned for the tarp and communicate with the umpires. I’m conveniently located in our weather center just outside of the third base dugout. Larry is positioned out there with a good view of the field and close to the crew chief, and I’m in here communicating what time the rain might be arriving and how long before the heavy rain arrives, and Larry shares that with the umpire crew chief.”
Larry told me how educational it has been working with Craig. He can now do many things that he couldn’t when he was with the Nationals, based on what Craig has taught him. He can jump on the computer and begin to figure things out before Craig arrives.
I asked Craig if other teams have such extravagant setups, or if it’s just because of our crazy Minnesota weather. “I don’t know exactly what other teams do. I have checked around, and I know they all have some type of direct weather link, usually with a private company.”
However, many of the services have a different meteorologist nightly.
On this particular night it was perfectly clear, and I joked how Craig was making easy money that night. But then he explained: Even on clear nights, he looks for weather patterns forming in other parts of the country that might affect a game two days from now. “We look to see if we can find a weather window. The game time could be 7:10, 12:10 or 6:10, so I look to see when the best chance of rain might be and the intensity of that rainfall.”
Craig went on to explain that the weather information is important not only for the game, but also for the pregame ceremonies, the throwing of the first pitch and the post-game ceremonies as well, such as running of the bases and fireworks. On this calm evening, Craig joked, “The biggest question tonight is which way the smoke from the fireworks will blow.”
I razzed him: “Nobody’s perfect, especially weathermen. What’s your batting average?” He said: “I’m not Hall of Fame yet, but battling for the Silver Slugger Award. I like to tell my employees that I’m quite adequate.” Then he went on, rubbing his chin methodically, “In my profession, we don’t like to be surprised. So when that happens I just say, ‘This isn’t quite what I expected. I didn’t expect the rain to last this long.’”