Twins fans embark for Chicago, Milwaukee with petition for Selig

Elizabeth Putnam

In the reception room of Gov. Jesse Ventura’s office, a bare Christmas tree stands with one gift underneath it.

Paul Ridgeway, chairman of Keep the Twins at Home, gave copies of more than 100,000 petition signatures to Ventura on Monday before departing in a caravan bound for Chicago. He plans to present the actual petitions to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

Ridgeway spoke briefly with Ventura and got his own gift – a copy of the Commissioner’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics Report to give to Selig.

The report, issued Monday, contains financial data about all MLB clubs and recommends the clubs share at least 40 percent of all local revenues.

“If the recommendations in this report are implemented, there should be no immediate need for contraction,” the report states.

Ridgeway said he was delighted to see the report.

Before reaching the Capitol, the petitions were displayed in the shape of a white baseball diamond on the Metrodome floor.

Ridgeway, president of Ridgeway International, a special-events and transportation company, said his goal was 100,000 signatures, but that has been easily surpassed and the tally is rising.

“The loss of the Twins would affect Minnesota emotionally as well as economically,” Ridgeway said.

He said funding for the trip comes from business owners and fund-raisers.

The caravan consists of a Winnebago nicknamed “Minny Twinny” and five vans decorated with Twins paraphernalia.

In the shower stall of the Winnebago sit copies of the online petition waiting to be signed.

The caravan will make its first stop in Milwaukee, Selig’s hometown.

Ridgeway said he hopes to find Selig at home. Otherwise they will continue to Chicago.

Selig is expected to attend a special owners meeting at the Chicago O’Hare Hyatt Regency on Tuesday.

Also accompanying Ridgeway is former Twins manager and second baseman Frank Quilici.

R.T. Watson, a long-time Twins fan, rearranged his work schedule to ride along.

“The Twins are an integral part of this community, and I wanted to do my part,” Watson said.

Ridgeway said he would like the University community to join in on the petition by logging on to the Web site www.keepthetwins.com.

Ridgeway has the support of University Alumni Executive Director Margaret Carlson, who said she informed her staff, as well as the University Foundation and University Relations, about the opportunity to sign the petition online after Ridgeway called her.

“I thought by e-mailing my staff about the online petition the response could be increased,” Carlson said.

She said she might put a link to the petition on the alumni Web site.

Before disappearing into the Winnebago, Ridgeway gave a thumbs up to reporters and cameras.

“This, Bud, is for you,” he said.

Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]