The Gopher baseball coaches have obviously seen a lot of college baseball, but they have some good Major League Baseball stories, too. With the 2013 World Series underway, we asked assistant coaches Rob Fornasiere and Todd Oakes to share some of their memories of watching the national pastime's biggest event.
Kirby Puckett and Chili Davis at the 1991 World Series (AP photo)
Rob Fornasiere, Assistant Head Coach:
"I was fortunate to attend both the seventh game of the 1987 World Series and games 6 & 7 of the 1991 World Series in the Metrodome. Besides the bedlam inside the Dome for all the games, to witness Kirby Puckett's game winning HR in game 6 of 1991 and Jack Morris' 10-inning gem in 1991 were experiences of a lifetime!
"I also remember my third grade teacher wheeling in a television to the classroom in 1964 to watch the World Series which featured Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals. That was my first recollection that this Baseball thing must be important to interrupt our class schedule."
Todd Oakes, Pitching Coach:
"My wife and I attended game 3 (Oct. 17) of the 1989 World Series between the A's and the Giants. The problem was there wasn't a game - because of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which occured about 15 minutes before game time. It was a beautiful, sunny day in San Francisco and my wife and I were fired up to be there. I was a minor league pitching coach in the Giants organization at the time and our trip to the World Series to see games 3-4-5 was our reward. It was going to be a great 3-4 day stay in SF that turned into a nightmare as we sat in SF for a few days before we were able to fly back home. The World Series resumed 10 days later as the A's swept the Giants in four games. We did not get to go back to SF and see games 3 & 4.
Players and media stand on the field after the earthquake (AP photo)
"Terri and I had been to the VIP tent outside the stadium and had a great time. I had even talked her into approaching Joe DiMaggio (this is a story in itself) and getting his autograph on a ball I had stuck in her purse. We went up to our seats about 30 minutes before the game - behind home plate in the upper deck. We were taking some pictures and enjoying the atmosphere. After we had been in our seats for about 10 minutes, the stadium started shaking and the light towers were swaying side to side. At the time, there was a big plane flying over the stadium and my first reaction was, "Is that plane rumbling over the stadium causing this?" Shortly after, I realized it was an earthquake. It probably lasted 10-12 seconds but seemed much longer. There was an eerie quiet that overcame the packed Candlestick Park for a few seconds and then the crowd cheered wildly, not knowing the severity of the earthquake - thinking it was a good omen for the Giants. We sat in our seats in amazement and wondered what was going on. After they cancelled the game, the crowd left the stadium in an orderly fashion. We got back on the bus and it took us 2-3 hours to get back to the hotel only a few miles away. When we got back to the hotel, we couldn't get in our room because the hotel had shaken so violently that it flipped the safety latch shut. We sat in the lobby for hours until they could go around and unlock the doors. There were aftershocks that night and it was a night of anxiety wondering what was next. We stayed in SF for another day before we were able to get a flight back home. It was rather refreshing to get the heck out of there. My one and only opportunity to experience a World Series and it wasn't meant to be. But I do still have my Joe DiMaggio ball!
"P.S. Terry Steinbach - former Gopher and Twins bench coach - was the starting catcher for the A's.
"I will be content watching this World Series from my recliner."