The plates may have taken an alternate shape from those in which the Minnesota Twins are generally accustomed, but the ballplayers approached them with the same measure of comfort and confidence. On Sunday eve, mere hours after a 5-3 comeback win over the Texas Rangers, more than a dozen Twins gathered at Restaurant Max in Minneapolis to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities.
Nearly 200 patrons (at $250 a plate) attended the third annual event in which players serve guests dinner and drink. Just beyond the dining chalk-lines, the night also included both a silent auction and a live auction called by Twins announcer Dick Bremer, as well as a cache of Michael Cuddyer’s long-celebrated magic tricks.
As Max staff presented starter trays of Tenderloin Crostini, Seared Ahi Tuna Wontons, and a delicious Mushroom Puff (with boursin cheese and Dijon cream), the evening began with bar service performed by Twin-newcomer pitcher Jon Rauch and first baseman Justin Morneau. The 6-foot-11-inch Rauch’s afternoon win over Texas, his first as a Twin, was readily evident via the giant’s highly amicable barside manner. Morneau’s rep for pouring a stiff cocktail was confirmed by Yours Truly with a Grey Goose and tonic that may only be mirrored in power by the Canadian’s celebrated swing.
“This night is always a lot of fun,” barkeep Morneau said of the event’s first incarnation at Max after two successful years at Morton’s Steakhouse. “It’s something different from the golf events and that kind of thing. It’s a different way for us to interact with people.”
As per his bar acumen, Morneau quipped:
“I make a great Bud Light. But I really can mix a Grape Ape shot and also a Water Moccasin.”
A nearby, ice-carved martini luge was manned by pitcher Brian Duensing and injured starter Kevin Slowey, lost for the season with a damaged right wrist.
“This is our opportunity to make a little bit of a difference; to hang out and take some photos — it doesn’t cost us a thing,” the impeccably mannered Slowey said between pouring shakers down the luge, employing his left hand. “Plus, we’ll hopefully get a few bartending skills over the course of the night.”
Relating a deliberate mixing approach to his calculated pitching style, Slowey added:
“Well, I don’t want to give anyone a shoddy product. I’d rather take a little longer and give people what they want.”
In Max’s dining room, myriad ballers later served tables a terrific Arugula Salad, followed by Filet Mignon with Seared Scallops served alongside an herb risotto and chive oil. Among the players, backup catcher Mike Redmond — hours removed from accruing his first triple in over six years — suited up with an apron and a beer.
“It’s a great night for us as players to be able to get out with the fans,” Redmond said. “Since I’ve been with the Twins , I’ve just been amazed how much guys do in the community here, and how each players supports one another. We get to relax a little bit and raise some money for charity.
“I’m on an adrenaline high, so I’m good,” the 38-year-old catcher added to quash concern about any serving energy left post his rare three-bagger. “The folks here are going to get everything I’ve got tonight. Hopefully I won’t cramp up.”
Along with the fine dining, popular auction, and highly accessible ballplayers, event organizers can no doubt take added pride in the fact that the club, at 3-0, is undefeated in games preceding what has become one of the Twin Cities’ most unique charity events.