Twins’ Players and Fans are “Safe”!
Story and Photos by Gordy Jones
The safety of all Twins fans who attend a baseball game, or any other event at Target Field, is made possible by many people. There are the ushers, the paramedics, monitored cameras, a uniformed security force, and probably plainclothes security people we don’t know about.
The guy responsible for all of them is an ex-St. Paul cop named Dick Dugan. Dick grew up in St. Paul, learned to fly, and became a pilot for Northwest Airlines. During the Vietnam war, he served his country as an air-traffic controller. After the war, Dick joined the St. Paul Police force as a patrolman. Soon he began to receive promotions that allowed him to work in various positions on the force, including burglary and narcotics. After 33 years, he retired in 1999 as a lieutenant running a 9-1-1 center.
One of Dick’s colleagues had been in charge of the Twins’ security force, and was about to accept a new position with the Minnesota State Lottery. The friend recommended Dick to the Twins as his replacement. Dick wanted the job and the Twins wanted him.
Knowing that Dick works around baseball players, who are traditionally the biggest jokers and pranksters in the world, I asked him: What was the funniest thing that has happened in his job? And has any player ever pulled a prank on him? He replied quite soberly, “I’ve heard about a few pranks, although no one has pulled one on me. And as far as the funniest thing I have seen: there’s nothing funny in a security unit. But one of
the most interesting things I have done happened a couple of years after I was hired. I went on the Twins’ caravan and spent a week with Kirby Puckett. That is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Kirby Puckett was one individual who was very friendly, very nice; he joked and liked to have a good time. I’ll never forget that experience. I spent 24 hours a day with him for a week.”
Fortunately Dick claims there have been no frightful security threats, but said that he and his staff are always planning and looking for ways to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. He talked about the new metal detectors, which make the fans more secure, which makes for a better fan experience. He told me that in the beginning of the screening process, fans may have easily been delayed 10 minutes upon entering the park. But he said everyone is learning, including the fans. They are beginning to keep backpacks and metal objects at home, and they are making their entrance much quicker.
All MLB fans will go through this screening process in 2015 — but with Dugan’s foresight, and the All-Star Game being played here in July, Minnesotans are pioneers in high-tech security at sports arena entrances.
Besides the events and games at Target Field, Dick accompanies both current and former players when they make public appearances. One of his favorite things is to attend the Budweiser “unplugged’ sessions, which are player Q & A opportunities for the fans, and a chance for them to win prizes. Unplugged events are held at various bars and restaurants throughout the Twin Cities. Dick explained why he enjoys them: “It’s nice for everyone to see the players away from the ballpark when they are not serious or trying to win a game. They let their hair down, and people ask them many different questions. Listening to them as regular people and not as ballplayers is very interesting. It makes you realize that ballplayers are real people, and they’re friendly people, and they carry on conversations just like anyone else. They don’t act like ‘ballplayers,’ and I really enjoy that. I’ve been to 80 or 90 of these events over the years.”
Which players does he like working with? All of them! But he said: “Brian Dozier is very enjoyable to work with – very friendly and talkative; he’s not stand-offish a bit. I’ve been on day trips with Joe Mauer. If you didn’t know his name is Joe Mauer, you’d think he just another guy having a good time in life. He’s very, very, personable and fun to be with. You wouldn’t know that he is the ‘Joe Mauer’ of the Twin Cities…he’s just a very nice guy.”
Dick is serious about his work, but he does have a sense of humor. We were at an event together with Tom Brunansky and Kent Hrbek. He looked at
Tom and Kent before his eyes surveyed the crowd. His eyes went back to Hrbek, and stayed fixed on him. Suddenly he smiled, laughed and said: “Look at the size of Kent, then look at me. I’m here to protect him, but if anything were to happen, I think I’d hide behind him and ask for his protection!” Then as quickly as his smile appeared, it was gone, and it was back to serious business for Dick Dugan.