“Holy Crabby Patty!” Harmon Killebrew And SpongeBob SquarePants Share A Place In History In Minnesota
On June 3, 1967, 6-foot, 195 lb Minnesota Twins first baseman Harmon Killebrew stepped to the plate during a home game against California Angels’ pitcher Lew Burdette. Killebrew proceeded to launch a ball with such force and at such a trajectory that it finally landed 522 feet away in left field. The impact of the ball splintered two old, wooden bleacher seats.
History. It’s one thing that sets baseball apart from the other sports.
We compare successful seasons of individual players on how they fared against the greats of the past. Home runs. Stolen bases. Wins. Saves. Ks. You ain’t no one in baseball until you can measure up to the greats.
We revere our history.
Sometimes, we stumble across it quite by accident.
Recently, my friend, Randon Lane, visited the Mall of America in Minnesota to shop. But, to his -and my- surprise, there is actual baseball history at the Mall of America.
Now, I know, you’re thinking, “Who’s Randon Lane?” and, “If I want baseball history, I’ll head to Cooperstown.”
But, hold on, there are some things even Cooperstown doesn’t have.
The Mall of America was built in Bloomington, Minn., and opened in 1992. It was not the first large building on the site. The property was also once home to the Twins. Metropolitan Stadium opened in 1956 and closed in 1981.
In its place is the mall, which has an amusement park and Nickelodeon Universe. That’s where visitors can meet their favorite Nickelodeon cable television stars, face to face.
But if you take the time to look around, you can also happen across a silver, home-plate-shaped marker. It is the exact location Metropolitan Stadium’s home plate.
Edited Photo by Randon Lane
Imagine the players who stood on that exact location, as a member of the home or visiting team. Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, Tony Oliva, Mickey Mantle: and all of the other American League greats who played in those years… and the beloved Killebrew.
It’s Killebrew who makes this mall cool for baseball fans, 40 years after his laser destroyed part of the park that once stood here.
Now, overlooking Sponge Bob and his playmates, attached to the wall at the mall, is a little red chair, that marks the exact location of where the ball landed, six rows into the second deck, high above what is now the log ride.
According to a marker at the mall, the splintered seats were painted and tickets for those seats were never sold again. “The red chair hanging on the wall marks the place Killebrew’s ball landed, over 520 feet from home plate,” the marker says.
Baseball has a lot of landmarks: the Dodgers’ Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and its almost unfindable marker, Mantle’s childhood home in Commerce, Oklahoma (open for tours) and Comiskey Park’s home plate in Chicago are immortalized, as are many others around our country.
But just maybe, a red chair hanging above Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America is the best demonstration of why America’s pastime is the best keeper of history. We can find it anywhere, any time… even in the mall while Christmas shopping.