My bike popped through a hole, and a musical beep came from inside the bag.
I still had to stop at the cafe, but I thought I saw a Harmon Killebrew in the things I found at the gas station.
It was the summer of 1967. The American League pennant race was a free-for-all, and the twins were in the middle of the fight.
And on a hot Saturday morning in June, it felt like I had just won the World Series.
I kicked a box down the alley when the sun flashed off something in the gravel. A quarter? It would buy me five packs of baseball cards without dipping into the little allowance I managed to save.
I walked closer and my heart dropped: the quarter I had already spent turned out to be the cap from a cola bottle.
That’s when I noticed the little red baseball printed on the top of the hood. I picked it up, turned it over and found a black and white picture of Tony Oliva.
“Yes, there are pictures of baseball players under the hoods,” the lady at the cafe explained that afternoon, pushing my cola over the counter. “Do you want your hood?”
“Secure!” I saw.
She stuck in the box that caught the bottle caps that fell from the opener screwed to the back of the bench and gave me a hood with a red baseball on it.
I was too excited to ask my mom if it was okay: “Can I have all your bottle caps?” I asked.
The cafe lady smiled. “Just stop in. If we have any, they’s yours. ”
I spent the rest of the day cycling around the city, with the same request anywhere I found a pop cooler: cafes, gas stations, bowling alley.
It was a circle I made daily, armed with big dreams and a burlap bag. And I quickly learned that some garbage cans around town were more likely to contain baseball bottle caps; the one on the log yard was especially good.
After three weeks, my mother said I could no longer bring the rabbit bag into the house.
Two months later, my collection had grown to almost 500 bottle caps. I created a baseball game with caps and a pair of dice, and switched Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Al Kaline to Twins.
On October 1, the real Twins 1967 season ended with heartache.
In the low season, the bottle caps were forgotten. Once after that, they disappeared.
I often wish I had them back. I even wanted to settle for a Harmon Killebrew. They were part of the best baseball summer ever.
Although they were sticky and smelled like stale cola.
Dan Conradt, a lifelong resident of Mower County, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.