When Target Field opened in 2010, if featured a large green batter’s eye in dead center field with pine trees dotting the landscape on the grassy berm.
Those trees removed from the area after hitters groused that it affected their ability to track the ball from the mound out of the pitcher’s hand — thereby negating a large part of the reason for having a batter’s eye in the first place — and a large black wall was installed.
Justin Morneau was one of the players affected by it. In fact, club owner Jim Pohlad even gave Morneau some good-natured ribbing during his retirement press conference last year, asking the slugger how he ever managed to perfect his swing playing baseball in his yard with all the trees around.
It was a nice moment of levity at the end of one of the better careers in Twins history.
Now as the Twins head into year 10 at Target Field, they’re changing things up a bit on the batter’s eye. After spending the last few winters improving the real estate above it with “Catch” and “Minnie and Paul’s,” the Twins are concentrating their efforts on the batter’s eye itself, adding a little green flair to liven up the space.
To be more specific, the Twins are calling it the “living wall” system — the first of its kind in the big leagues — which will “enhance the aesthetics of the center field hitter’s backdrop, without compromising playability” according to a team release.
Here’s a glimpse of what it’ll look like:
Before the inevitable “it’s just the trees again” jokes roll in, it’s important to note that covering the whole wall in the same color is markedly different from just a part of it with trees scattered sporadically.
Trees have shadows and uneven edges, while these plants will perhaps move a bit in the wind, but will cover the entire wall and any motion should be mostly imperceptible to the human eye at a distance of 450 or so feet.
This will be the largest living wall system in the continental United States at 2,280 square feet, and will be comprised of roughly 5,700 sea green juniper plants, installed individually and secured in a tiered, multiple-tray system attached to the existing structure.
It will be self-irrigated by the existing Pentair system that has helped the Twins win numerous awards for the green-ness of the ballpark’s operations. The junipers will be installed every March, and stored in a local nursery over the winter.
Green Living Technologies International out of Rochester N.Y. is responsible for the manufacturing, and it will be installed by CityScapes, a company out of Boston.
“The Minnesota Twins are excited about plans to install one of the world’s largest living walls at Target Field,” Twins president & CEO Dave St. Peter said in a team release. “Since the removal of the original trees, which were part of Target Field’s batter’s eye in 2010, the Twins have been searching for the right solution which balances playability and aesthetics. We believe the living wall concept delivers on both fronts, while further enhancing the ballpark’s sustainability platform.”
The installation will begin two weeks from Monday, and will be completed in time for the season.
The Twins open the season at home against the Cleveland Indians on March 28 — the earliest outdoor opener in club history.
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