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Twins baseball, Red Wing pottery are curator's passions

Red Wing Pottery made a twin ashtray to mark the Minnesota Twins’ appearance in the 1965 World Series. Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is set for July 15, 2014, in Minneapolis and takes place as the Red Wing Collectors Society holds its convention in Red Wing, Minn. (Photo courtesy of Red Wing Collectors Society/Rick Natynski)

RED WING, Minn. -- Clyde Doepner never misses the convention.

But this year he’ll be hard-pressed to fit the Red Wing Collectors Society’s annual gathering into his schedule.

As curator for the Minnesota Twins organization, Doepner will be deeply involved in activities surrounding the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which the Twins are hosting July 15.

It’s the first time the Midsummer Classic will be played in Minneapolis since 1985 and the first time ever at Target Field. Five days of events are planned July 11-15.

Doepner already has taken steps to make sure everyone who comes to Target Field for the All-Star Game will know that these two loves of his — Red Wing Pottery and Twins baseball — have a historic connection.

Forty-nine years ago, in 1965, the Twins hosted the All-Star Game, won the American League Championship and played in the World Series.

Red Wing Pottery created special pieces to celebrate the team’s success — pieces that are on display in one of the 33 display cases at Target Field that Doepner is responsible for filling.

“I do all of the collecting, archiving and displaying” for the Twins, he explained.

In honor of the 2014 All-Star Game, he is featuring the 1965 collection:

-- A bluish-green plate, shaped like home plate, embossed with “1965 All-Star Game” and the location — Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington — plus a message from then-Gov. Karl Rolvaag, and a ball, bat and glove.

-- A brown double bowl/ashtray commemorating the 1965 World Series and the league championship, embossed with Minnie and Paul shaking hands.

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of that stellar year, he pointed out, hinting at how popular it would be to commemorate the event with another piece of pottery.

Doepner changes the display cases to coincide with activities at the stadium, including different homestand series. In June he created a 1984 case celebrating Carl Pohlad’s purchase of the team, Kirby Puckett’s first Twins game and Harmon Killebrew’s election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, plus the top six songs of that year.

Music is another of his passions, Doepner said. With Paul McCartney in concert this summer at Target Field, he’s planning a special Beatles display featuring memorabilia from his personal collection.

Doepner is understandably torn over what to do when his pottery and baseball interests overlap.

For many years, he has been among the first in line for the Saturday morning show and sale. In the early years, he recalled, a person had to get there around 3 a.m. But for him the camaraderie of the day made it worthwhile. He has good memories of visiting with others who always challenged to be at the head of the line.

Doepner would be on the hunt for his other favorite collectible. “I like salt-glazed churns,” he said. He has 18 different ones.

“I will have to find a way to sneak in and keep my streak going.”