The two people I first met who made me feel welcomed when I became a Minnesota Twins beat writer in 2001 were Ray Cook, a longtime guard outside the home team’s clubhouse, and Margaret Imhoff, who worked in the press box.
Cook retired a few years ago shortly after the team moved into its present ballpark. I’ve missed him ever since.
Imhoff passed away Thursday, September 14 after a battle with cancer. She was 79.
Better known to all of us as simply Peg, she warmly greeted media members as we entered the press box area. You’d be foolish to walk by her desk and pass up her always filled candy bowls, or simply not speak to her — if you did, you missed a treat.
Her official title was “Press Box Ambassador,” but she was much more than that.
I knew Peg was a longtime Twins employee, but I didn’t know she worked for the team for 42 years in all three stadiums’ press boxes since the team moved to Minnesota in 1961: Met Stadium, the Metrodome and the downtown ballpark. She was friendly to all media, whether they covered the home team or the visitors. Her popularity was well known around the majors — MLB.com featured a tribute to her after Peg’s passing last week.
The news of her death hit me hard. I had hoped to see her last Friday, to bring her the latest copy of the MSR — Peg was a faithful reader of our paper, read it from front to back, and especially loved reading Dr. Charles Crutchfield III’s health column.
Sometimes Peg and I would discuss something I wrote, or some item published. Sometimes we agreed, or agreed to disagree, but never did we walk away from each other upset by our differences of opinion. I don’t think it was in her nature — others who knew Peg would say the same.
Alfonso Fernandez, the Twins’ Spanish play-by-play announcer briefly reflected on Peg’s death. “My Sundays and Tuesdays [the days he is on the air] will not be same because I [will] miss her very, very much.”
“She touched a lot of people’s hearts. She had a smile and always was friendly. They [the Twins] lost a very good person. She was a great lady,” said Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, now in his 22nd year as color commentator for the Twins. “I did see her a couple of days before she passed,” he added. “You could see she was not doing well.”
At the old Metrodome, Peg fixed the hot dogs and Polish sausages for the media. She always made sure that I got a fresh-off-her-portable-grill dog, and Peg was never wrong. After the team moved, Peg was promoted to her last position, a greeter, and the Twins named the press box dining room after her — “Peg’s Café.”
I haven’t had a hot dog at the place since, partly because of Peg, and partly because the hot dogs were no longer free, and they looked like those hot dogs you find at the convenience store. Peg knew that, and expressed her appreciation of my stance.
We always talked. We talked about her family and mine. We talked about life, our likes and sometimes our problems. Earlier this season asked my advice on how to deal with bad customer service.
In lieu of flowers, I left the latest MSR last Friday on Peg’s desk. I will miss her.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.