Grady Kruse considers himself a baseball purist, but he admits the length of a typical Major League Baseball game these days is maddening. He sees too much wasted time between pitches.
“They’ve got to do something about it,” he said.
Here’s one way to make a game feel quick: Attend two games in one day. Kruse jumped at that opportunity on Tuesday.
“You think I’m crazy, don’t you?” he asked.
Not necessarily. Who doesn’t enjoy the rare 2-for-1 special?
The Twins and Chicago White Sox played a rare traditional doubleheader at Target Field. One ticket, two games, a 45-minute break in between and 5 hours, 44 minutes of baseball viewing combined.
Kruse, a self-employed electrician, attends about 10 Twins games every season. He put doubleheader on his bucket list after seeing the Twins play a twin bill last season.
“I said if they do that again, I want to do that,” he said.
This was only the second “true” doubleheader in Target Field history. Fans of a certain age can remember when doubleheaders were fairly common. They were built into the schedule and not solely a product of postponements.
“I always liked them [as a player],” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
“Yeah,” he said. “You get twice as many chances to get a hit.”
If your parents were like mine, they viewed doubleheaders as a savvy financial investment. Two games for the price of one is easier on the family budget.
Split doubleheaders have become far more common because teams can charge gate for two games. Business usually comes first.
Hall of Famer Ernie Banks coined the beautiful phrase “Let’s play two!” and the weather gods couldn’t have provided more perfect conditions for a long day at the park. Bluebird skies, 76 degrees, light breeze.
Kruse never leaves a game early, even in blowouts, so naturally, he watched the doubleheader start to finish, all 18 innings. He and a few buddies scored club seats for $36 apiece.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “For two games?!”
Game 1 was a throwback in pace: 2 hours, 37 minutes. Eduardo Escobar earned a standing ovation and curtain call after drilling a three-run home run in the eighth inning for a 4-2 win.
Zach Littell probably wishes he had a do-over to his major league debut in Game 2. The White Sox pounded him for four runs in the first inning and the Twins couldn’t catch up, losing 6-3.
The heartiest of souls stuck around until the final out. That included Ian Baggett and his two young sons, ages 9 and 8. Baggett normally cheers for the Twins, but he grew up south of Chicago in a family of diehard White Sox fans so he found the perfect opportunity for his “family-friendly” bachelor party.
He’s getting married in October. His two brothers planned to visit him with the White Sox in town. When they found out about the doubleheader, party on.
Baggett even broke out his White Sox jersey for the occasion.
“[Doubleheaders] never happen,” he said. “We almost hate the Cubs. But Ernie Banks saying ‘Let’s play two!’ … it’s an old tradition.”
Baggett is 43 and grew up watching doubleheaders as a kid, but this was his first one as a fan. He figured two games meant twice the fun.
“I like the game, I like the atmosphere, it’s a nice day, I like eating junk food and drinking beer,” he said. “To double that? That sounds awesome.”
A doubleheader with his two brothers and two sons was doubly awesome. His brothers flew in from Indianapolis a few hours before first pitch. His sons got out of school a little early. The group planned to stick around to the end, which seemed ambitious with two kids under age 10.
“Feed them snacks and root beer and they’ll be fine,” Baggett said.
Smart. And for the record, they made it to the final out.
Eight-year-old Gavin shared words of wisdom with his dad at one point.
“If you bring someone to a doubleheader,” he said, “you better like baseball.”
Or root beer.
Chip Scoggins email@example.com