Two OLLIs One Ballpark

Two OLLIs One Ballpark

October 14, 2016

On Saturday, August 13, members of the OLLI programs at the University of Minnesota and University of Nebraska-Lincoln combined education and sports entertainment at Target Field in Minneapolis, the home of the Minnesota Twins.

How did this come about? As many great ideas do: through the sharing of good food and great conversation. Our Executive Director Sandra Stevenson sat next to Marvin Almy, then-Board President of the Nebraska OLLI, at a dinner at last year's OLLI National Conference in Carlsbad, California. Said Marv: "We're thinking of heading up to the Twin Cities to take in a Twins game. Maybe we can work something out with our two OLLIs."

"Extra Innings-A Target Field Experience" was born!

Serious planning began in February when Marv reached out to Sandra with more specifics on a possible game date. In addition to the ball game, the four-day trip included visits to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Guthrie Theater (they loved South Pacific!), and the Swedish Institute. Knowing that I am a part-time Senior Guest Services Specialist for the Minnesota Twins, usher, and self-described baseball fanatic, Sandra reached out to me for help coordinating the Twins game with a stadium visit.

Photo of Tom Rooney, OLLI member and Dave St. Peter, Minnesota Twins President

I used my connections with the Twins ball club to develop and facilitate the program. Dave St. Peter, President of the Minnesota Twins, talked with warmth and charm about his professional path and shared his perspective on the Target Stadium, pitching, and the team. Clyde Doepner, Major League Baseball's Best (and only) Curator, talked with his usual self-deprecating humor about his unusual path to becoming a baseball historian, and the trust and responsibility bestowed upon him. These two had the nearly 80 OLLI participants eating out of the palms of their hands. I also used the opportunity to have a little fun telling the group about my "job" in Guest Services and as a section usher (it's not work, it's fun!) and showed them a video about the development of the stadium.

The Nebraska folks bestowed upon me a cornhusker hat and a University of Nebraska OLLI baseball cap. And to think I expected no compensation! Next, we broke up for self-guided tours of the stadium with handouts I'd prepared, had dinner on our own and, then, we all met up again at 6:00 p.m. for the ballgame.

The Twins beat the Royals by 12 runs—ouch! And for one lovely summer day, we became two OLLIs, one ballpark.

Tom Rooney,
OLLI at the University of Minnesota Course Leader
Senior Guest Services Specialist and Usher, Minnesota Twins

These two had the nearly 80 OLLI participants eating out of the palms of their hands.