The Border Battle Within (or How a Twins Fan Can Also Be a Packers Fan)

Posted: September 24, 2012 by Crackin' Wax in Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Twins, Talkin' Twins
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Going into your read of this particular post, I want you to know that I don’t pretend to be the only person out there that has ever existed to have ever simultaneously been a fan of both the Twins and the Packers. Sometimes, though, it sure feels as if I am.

Living in the Twin Cities on this Monday after the lowly Vikings did what the highly regarded Packers could not do–defeat the Super Bowl favorites, the San Francisco 49ers–has been awkward for the loyal fan in me. Living in the Twin Cities in 2012 after the formerly dominant Twins have done nothing more than spiral out of control for the last two seasons has proven to also be nothing short of awkward for the loyal fan in me. I find myself feeling the need to hide my green and gold in the midst of a sea of purple and gold. I tend to shy away from heated debates discussing the state of professional baseball in Minnesota. When people are more excited about the St. Paul Saints’ new stadium than going to see the Twins take on the Yankees late in the season, it speaks volumes to the depressing state of the team to which I am so loyal.

Nonetheless, my loyalty to the cheeseheads and to the twinkies will never waiver. Those loyalties are deeply rooted in decisions I made early on in my childhood. You see, it all starts with my parents.

My mother is from Southwestern Wisconsin. Her family bleeds green and gold. Even she is an unabashed Packer fanatic. To a lesser degree, they are also fans of the Milwaukee Brewers; the older males in the family are more fond of the Milwaukee Braves. My father and his side of the family are just over the Mississippi in Southeastern Minnesota. The few from that side of the family that enjoyed football were BIG fans of the purple people eaters, and those that cared about baseball were more interested in the Twins. You can immediately see the difficult choices that lay before me, the oldest son of two parents very loyal to their own states’ pro sports teams. As a child, I was not merely choosing to be loyal to a state or a team, I had to choose which parent would receive my loyalty.

The smart decision at the time was to choose BOTH parents.

The first team choice that I made took very little time, very little effort, and very little convincing. When I was very small, I thought that I was a Brewers fan. It was based solely on the fact that one of my parents had taken the time to hang a pennant just like this one on my wall.

At the time, I wasn’t even sure what a World Series was. I remember asking my mom the significance of the pennant (in a more monosyllabicly childish manner, of course) and in return received a short lesson on the teams involved. I was also informed that “we like the Brewers.” For a few years, I believed it. I knew nothing of the team, its history, its players, or even where Milwaukee was. I’m not even sure if I knew that Minnesota had its own team.

Until 1986, that is. Coming home from either a shopping trip or a visit to the Wisconsin-side grandparents (or both), I received my very first pack of baseball cards. It was a pack of the fugly 1986 Topps. The very first card that I pulled out of that cracked wax was of Kirby Puckett.

1986 Topps Kirby Puckett

My very first baseball card, I studied that sucker as if I just picked a bug up out of the grass and wanted to see what its eyes looked like. When I noticed that the Twins were from Minnesota, I began asking more questions about them and who Kirby Puckett was. When I pulled a Greg Gagne out of the same pack, I was told about the famous Gagne wrestlers from Minnesota and was explained that their last names were pronounced differently (Gag-nee, Gahn-yuh). All it took was me pulling Kirby Puckett first out of that very first pack of cards for me to take a shine to the Twins.

Getting to Green Bay, however, was a bit more tedious.

Living in Minnesota, most of my classmates loved the Vikings and Twins, so it was easy to learn more about those teams through them. Being so close to Wisconsin, though, resulted in some classmates who were big followers of the Packers. Knowing that there were other kids in my school that liked the same football team that I did made it much easier to dis the home-state hand-eggers. Being so close to a larger city in Wisconsin also provided us with all of the televised Packers games. It was rare to actually see the Vikings take the field on t.v. back then. At school and at home, I was surrounded by Packers this and Packers that. Even though, at the time, the Vikings had enjoyed recent successes and the Packers were perennially lousy, it was easy for me to get into a team I could actually watch and then talk about with most of the people I was in contact with.

My decision to be Packer-loyal, however, wasn’t concrete for a number of years. Being a Minnesota kid in a Minnesota school, I was a bit timid and shy about revealing my true team of choice. Whenever asked, I either pretended to love the Vikings or feigned any knowledge of football. I’d sit at home and thoroughly enjoy even the worst of the 80s Packers games. For me, guys like Lynn Dickey and Don Majkowski were football idols. It took learning about the heritage of the team to truly appreciate the legacy of the team that I had secretly rooted for. Finally, in the 5th grade, I spoke up. Thankfully, a couple of the bigger kids with whom I got along were also fans of the Packers, so that made it easier to let loose.

Ironically, I never collected Packers cards. I’ve got binders full of Twins cards, no Packers (aside from a couple of relatively recent eBay pick-ups). I rarely ever got to see the Twins on television. The most broadcasting they ever got in my small podunk town was during the 1987 and 1991 World Series. Trading cards got me into the Twins even though I was told by my mother that I liked the Brewers, and the luck of location living in a small Minnesota town so close to a larger Wisconsin city lead to my pride and appreciation for the Packers.

Nowadays, living in the Twin Cities, I can watch as many Twins games on t.v. as I want and I can go to as many Twins games as I can afford. Unfortunately for the Packers fan in me, I can only see the Pack play on nationally televised games (tonight being one of them).

So, today, a fully grown adult capable of defending himself, I find myself in much the same position I was in when I was in grade school. A fierce Twins fan among his own ilk hanging his head in the disappointment of yet another lost season, a proud Packers fan trapped in the very hub of purple pride. I’m about to do, though, what my 5th grade self did so many years ago. I’m going to rise above those purple horns and wave my flag of green and gold.

Now all I need is find a couple of bigger guys who are also Packers fans so I can publicly wear this new shirt that I just ordered today without fear of physical harm.

I love the Twins, even though they have recently been one of the worst teams in baseball. They were in the same place in the late 90s and I loved them through those hard times, too. They are my local home-town team, they’ve been to the Series three times and brought back the trophy twice–something that the Brew Crew has yet to do. I love the Packers, even though they could not do what the local team did just yesterday–at least I can say that the Packers have done more times than any other team what the local team has never done.

At the age of 35, parental loyalty is null and void. Although it may be difficult today to be proud of the teams that I love, I know that my teams have great history and will always have great potential. I feel that I made the right decisions in this regard and I can’t imagine caring about any other professional baseball and football teams more.

For tonight, the Twins take on the hated Yankees and the Packers duke it out with the new-look Seahawks. Of course, I’ll always root for the Twins to spoil the Yankees, even though the history between the two is heavily in New York’s favor, and I’ll be out there grilling brats and inside cheering loudly for the Pack Attack, even though I’m not entirely convinced they’ll pull away with a convincing victory. No matter what the outcome is for either game, I’ll be cheering on both teams tonight, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.

WIN TWINS! GO PACK GO!

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