We’ve reached the time of year when baseball stuff starts popping up on the calendar with increasing frequency. This is your guide to things you can do for the next couple of weeks that can get you away from the keyboard and talking baseball face-to-face.
*Saturday, January 24 is the 2nd Annual Last Hot Stove League Banquet. Last year was supposed to be the 25th and final banquet, but it was so hot that a 2nd Annual Last banquet was deemed necessary. It will be at the Harriet Island Pavilion in St. Paul. Corey Koskie (someone bring a bat and a chair) and umpire Tim Tschida are the featured entertainment; LaVelle and “Twins Geek” John Bonnes will be there too. Bill “Spaceman” Lee was the featured guest last year and everyone went home with new stories to tell. Some were even true.
There will be an auction of baseball stuff (including a chance to watch a game in Section 220) and I’ll be your MC, which means that if someone brings a bat and a chair, Mr. Koskie will be asked to replicate the Cleveland incident that some say saved the 2004 season. It’s that kind of event. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. You can get ‘em at Anodyne (43rd and Nicollet in south Minneapolis) and Golden Thyme Coffee Shop (921 Selby) in St. Paul. Get in touch with Sam, at 651-644-9254 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you need to know more. The gathering starts at 5:30 p.m, “festivities” begin at 7:10. Proceeds go to St. Paul’s Dunning Field Little League.
*If you want to dress sharp and spend $150 on dinner, the 4th annual Diamond Awards — a collaboration of the Twin Cities chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the Twins and the University of Minnesota — is Thursday, January 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Marriott City Center. Proceeds support medical research at the U and awards will be presented to an assortment of Twins. Here’s the list of winners. LaVelle, who is the BBWAA chair for the Twin Cities, works his butt off on this one and the cause is really good.
*The Twins’ Winter Caravan started Monday and runs through June January 29th. Gardy, Glen Perkins and Joe Vavra are doing northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota this week, including a stop in Fargo on Thursday where Gardy has promised to continue talking about the outfield situation. Mike Redmond and Matt Guerrier are in Ely today, where they’ll learn that the weather doesn’t matter to some people. The complete schedule of about five dozen cities (including stops in the Dakotas, western Wisconsin and Iowa) is here. If you go, it would be great if you’d write about it.
*What off-season is complete without a trip to TwinsFest, which will go from Friday the 23rd through Sunday the 25th at the Dome? It’s the usual collection of autograph booths, player photo stations, National Anthem auditions, vendor tables, clubhouse tours and ticket sales. If you want your picture taken with Carlos Gomez, it would be a good idea to get in line, like, tomorrow. For Nick Blackburn, you’ll be no better than second in line, behind Ms. Baseball. Proceeds go to the Twins Community Fund and you can buy tickets at twinsbaseball.com. Maybe J.J. Hardy will be there.