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Twins Daily Roundtable: Hall of Fame Impact

Twins Daily Roundtable is a weekly series. As part of this series, a question will be posed to the site’s writers and they will respond in 200 words or less (Some writers don’t like to stick to this limit). This will give readers an opportunity to see multiple points of view and then add their own point of view in the comments section.

Two former Twins, Jim Thome and Jack Morris, entered the Hall of Fame over the weekend. Both of them played fewer than two full seasons in a Twins uniform but it is hard to deny their impact on the organization. One willed the Twins to a dramatic Game 7 victory and the other entered the 600 home run club as a member of the hometown nine.

This week’s roundtable discussion question is: “Which Hall of Fame player with ties to the Twins had the greatest impact on the organization?”
Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
John Bonnes
I've followed the Twins since 1972, and in my mind, there is no doubt that Kirby Puckett has had the biggest impact. It wasn't just the World Series championships or the postseason heroics. Indeed that was just a small fraction of what he brought, as was his performance on the field. His personality, specifically his childlike enthusiasm and joy, separated him from any other athlete I've witnessed.

He was also fortunate enough to have his career fall into the perfect media landscape: media was ubiquitous, but not chaotic and social. I wasn't able to witness first-hand the greatness on and off the field that Harmon Killebrew embodied, but I have trouble imagining that any player from the 60s could impact an organization and community the way Puckett did in the 80s and 90s.

Nick Nelson
For me personally, it’d have to be Kirby Puckett. He was easily the team’s biggest star while I was growing up, and had a major impact on my fledgling affinity for Twins baseball at the time.

However, given that Kirby’s playing career was relatively brief (by HoF standards) and his greatness somewhat overstated (*ducks*) I’ve gotta go with Harmon Killebrew. I didn’t have the privilege of watching him play, but the numbers speak for themselves: to still own essentially all the franchise’s power-hitting records 30-plus years after retiring is nothing short of incredible.

Plus, Killebrew stuck around as a fantastic ambassador for the organization many years after his playing career ended, whereas Kirby faded from the spotlight unceremoniously. Puckett’s legacy is ultimately a complicated and checkered one, but Killer’s is rock-solid through and through. He arrived along with the team from Washington in 1961, on the front end of a legendary run, and will forever be emblazoned in my mind as the eternal face of the franchise.

Cody Christie
When looking at the organization, Tony Oliva, a player not in the Hall of Fame, might have had the greatest impact on the organization. He’s been a great ambassador for the game and an asset for the organization. However, other players elected to Cooperstown like Kirby Puckett, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Bert Blyleven have impacted the organization in different ways.

Puckett brought multiple titles to the Twin Cities. Killebrew was the heart and soul of the organization’s first pennant winning team. Carew and his Heart of 29 campaign have brought him back into the fold in Minnesota. Even Blyleven and his terrible announcing have left an impact on the organization.

If I am picking one player, it has to be Killebrew. His on and off the field impacts have touched every generation of Twins fans. Puckett was my idol growing up but his post career life was filled with various demons. Killebrew wasn’t perfect but his reach goes far beyond Twins Territory.

Steve Lein
Just to point this out while I go into my why: this is a tough question for me (for reasons discussed below and others I won’t).

I grew up as a little kid loving baseball and my home/favorite team won two world series before I was ten years old. My views may be a little skewed because of that and the vivid memories I still have (one of those World Series was the first time I can remember my parents letting me stay up late).

Since I’ve grown up and sought to learn much more about the franchise’s history, I know the name Harmon Killebrew should top a lot of our writer’s lists. I don’t know if you could find a Hall of Famer anywhere that without a doubt could be called a better human being. Because of that, while I was in a vintage store this past weekend I was very tempted to drop far too much money on an okay-condition Killebrew baseball card from 1958, while still in a Senators jersey.

But as far as impact on the organization for me, the answer to this question will likely always be Kirby Puckett. He’s unquestionably the reason why you came to the Metrodome during his star-studded career, his joy playing the game was apparent every day with his smile, and his charisma was known throughout the major leagues. He also led his teams to those two World Series Championships, so he’s my pick.

SD Buhr
Given my advanced age, it’s not surprising that I’m going to go with Harmon Killebrew. Many fans may not have an appreciation for just how sorry the Washington Senators franchise was at the time Calvin Griffith moved the team to Minnesota.

Washington won the AL pennant in 1933. From that point until the franchise landed in Minnesota, the Senators had three seasons in which they finished in the top half of the A.L. standings (two were during the talent-challenged World War II era). They finished dead last in the standings in four of their final six seasons in Washington.

That is the legacy that Calvin Griffith brought to Minnesota. Fortunately, he also brought Harmon Killebrew to Minnesota.

With Killebrew as the face of the franchise, the Twins quickly became one of most successful teams of the 1960s.They finished 6th in their debut season of 1961, but finished 2nd in 1962, 3rd in 1963 and won the franchise’s first A.L. pennant in 32 years in 1965. They were runners-up in 1966 and 1967 and then won the first two Western Division pennants of the Divisional era in 1969 and 1970.

Under Griffith’s frugal ownership, the Twins became an also-ran during the following decade and a half, until Griffith sold the team to Carl Pohlad. Killebrew was the virtual embodiment of “Minnesota Nice” off the field, while being a cold blooded “killer” when he stepped into the batter’s box.

If the Twins had continued their Senators legacy of being the league doormats, it’s not hard to imagine that Griffith would have been forced to sell his team much sooner than he did and who knows whether there would have been much local interest in even trying to keep the team in Minnesota.

Thanks to Killebrew and his friends, the Twins were still around when Kirby and his buddies won their Championships.

Andrew Thares
Now batting, number 34, Kirbyyyyyyyyyyyyy Puckett! In the history of the Minnesota Twins, there isn’t a single player who has had a greater impact on the organization than Kirby Puckett.

It would be easy to talk about him being the best player on both World Series winning teams, or reminisce on his brilliant preforming in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, but really it was how Kirby played the game that left the lasting impact on the organization.

As a Twins fan who isn’t old enough to remember Kirby Puckett before he retired, I think it speaks volumes to the fact that he is still my favorite baseball player of all time.

Ted Schwerzler
While Harmon was a man that has been gone from baseball for quite some time now, I think it's safe to say his impact has been felt over multiple generations. He was consistently a figurehead for the Twins organization even after his playing days, and his instruction towards young players is still disseminated today. He instilled a way in which to go about doing things that has been bought into by players like Torii Hunter, and consistently passed down as those guys give back to the organization today.

If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Baseball in 2028
Second Half Star
Sell, Sell, Sell?
Fixing the Offense

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Imagine a city, metropolitan area, state, entire region, that never experienced a major league sport. (Let's pretend that the NBA was not a major-league sport in the 50's....since it really wasn't.)Also, imagine a time when MLB and MLB stars were infinitely more prominent/important in the culture than the NFL or NBA. 


Then imagine being handed one of the best players in MLB, the player that would have more home runs in the franchise's first decade than anyone else...yes, more than Willie Mays, and more than Hank Aaron...and would lead the team to a WS and win an MVP in those formative years.


I'll accept Kirby Puckett as the answer.But, I really don't think even he had more of an impact than Killebrew on the franchise.

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Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was my 11th birthday.  I still vividly remember watching that whole series.  Two World Series, the pinnacle of Baseball, it has to be Kirby!  I will say that the answer to this question will depend on when you grew up, child heroes reign supreme.

    • glunn likes this

I'm not really sure that I can say on is "better" than the other or has had "more" of an impact. To me and my limited intellect and vocabulary, I look at Puckett and Killebrew as two different (but equally important) eras of baseball.


I was born to late to know or enjoy Harmon as a player (although my dad loves to talk about him, and thusly I got him an autographed Killebrew baseball shortly before he passed... Best.Xmas.Present.Ever :)) and I, like many of us grew up and cultivated my love of baseball with Puckett on the field... but, I couldn't really say one is more important than the other.


Both were and are equally important to the franchise during two different and distinct eras.

    • glunn likes this

As an old-timer---it hurts to type those words!!---I experienced both Harmon and Kirby in their primes. I'd have to give the edge to Puckett because he was a complete ballplayer. Killebrew hit tons of homeruns, but he also struck out a lot, rarely hit much over .270, was a liability in the field wherever he tried to play (1b, 3b, lf), and was not the slowest player on the Twins teams of his prime only because Earl Battey was truly molasses incarnate. I remember that in the late 1960s, before injuries brought him down, I thought that Tony Oliva was a better player than Harmon.


Puckett on the other hand was an outstanding defender at a premium position, regularly hit well over .300, and was always a threat to steal or take the extra base, even though his power did not approach Killebrew's numbers.


Both were great players, but Kirby was great in so many dimensions that I just have to give him the edge.

    • glunn likes this
But the question is “greatest impact on the franchise”...not greatest player.

Puckett is the only one even remotely in Killebrew’s category in that regard.
    • glunn likes this

I love this discussion.I have already commented on the fact that I was a first year usher and had wonderful images of Vic Power, Pedro Ramos, Camilo Pascual and other early Twins.Being in my 70's I am not sure how I rank in your old timer list of writers/followers, but I have been wrestling with the right answer and I certainly think that both Killebrew and Puckett are the right answers - in terms of team impact on the fans.

That said, I want to make a case for Carew who was a model of consistency and had his career cut short here by the horrible racism of Calvin Griffith.He did not leave the team, the owner of the team made it impossible for him to stay.He was such a master with the bat I can only imagine them trying to put a shift on with him.The most important aspect of his career might have been the fact that the Griffith/Carew collision opened up a better racial attitude and discussion for the team and the future.


We have had short term HOF pitchers like Carlton and Morris, short term batters like Molitor and Winfield. And we had the best non-HOF player in Tony Oliva who did more while he was playing and after he retired that almost any Twin. 


Bert Blyleven was a great pitcher, a Twins and national HOF pitcher, but his stint and relations with the Twins stand out more for the booth than the mound.I was much more impressed by Jim Kaat and Jim Perry for the Twins. 

    • glunn likes this
Kelly Vance
Aug 01 2018 08:31 PM

You can answer this by just looking at the MLB logo.


That's a picture of Harmon Killebrew

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Kelly Vance
Aug 01 2018 08:32 PM

The NBA logo is Jerry West

    • glunn likes this

Kirby Puckett carried two teams on his back for WS wins both through his play and his intangibles in the club house.


I'm not sure there is still a team in Minnesota without those two magical seasons (lest we not forget the contraction risk was all too real a decade-ish later)


He could hit ANYTHING at ANYTIME! His at bats were appointment TV (or radio)


I cannot tell you how many times a stayed in a parked car to finish listening to a Puckett at bat. 


Rosario is a a bit of Puckett lite for me....and has that spark to become a special Twin.

    • glunn likes this

Kirby Puckett... in my opinion... 

    • glunn likes this
This week’s roundtable discussion question is: “Which Hall of Fame player with ties to the Twins had the greatest impact on the organization?>>>>>>>>>>> Since the question seems to lend itself to the impact on the whole of the orginisation it sort of takes simple field performance off the table. And it makes post career performance pertinent. But here goes:

Harmon, great player who continued as a baseball ambassador his entire life. Reportedly as nice in person as he appeared to be as a player. He hit a prodigious amount of home runs without steroids, something some of those who passed him cannot say. While I think it was Jim Bouton who called him "the fat kid", very few pitchers viewed him in that context for long. His power was pure, and legitimate.

Kirby, another great with a ton of on field ability, but who's post career issues negated much of his charisma. So was the bubbly Kirby an act? His WS series heroics can't be washed away, nor can the suddenness of his forced retirement. I am sure all players, as all humans in general have demons. The question is can one control them?

Tony O, who I still think was the best hitter I ever saw. That's a pretty inclusive statement. But he hit anything anywhere, for average and power. He could run, had a great arm, and had issues with the glove, and seemed to always enjoy playing. Think Rosario X 10. He also continues to contribute to baseball and the Twins in many capacities, not the least of his connection to the Hispanic community.

Carew, lacked Oliva's power, but was the ultimate contact hitter. His numbers speak for themselves, and his career was not cut short like Olivas. Some like George Will called him a magician with a bat in his hands. His career was started by Calvin, and his Twins tenure was prematurely ended by Calvin. Never afraid to be heard his voice is now directed to causes like his Heart campaign. Another former Twin who has not simply faded into retirement.

A case can be made for any of the above. But for me it's Harmon, he checks all the boxes, plus he seemed to be simply a very good baseball player for his era, who remained basically a baseball player his entire life.
    • mikelink45 likes this
Tom Froemming
Aug 02 2018 03:23 PM


You can answer this by just looking at the MLB logo.


That's a picture of Harmon Killebrew

That's a popular story, but according to the guy who designed the logo it's not true.

I think Harmon was probably the best to ever wear a Twins uniform, but Kirby had the greatest impact. 

My baseball consciousness goes back to 1967-1968. With all deference to Killebrew, I go with Puckett as far as franchise impact.


Killebrew led a winning team that laid down solid fan roots in the sixties, but that fandom looked like it was dying thanks to stingy, racist Cal Griffith and the Metrodump. Killebrew was an all-or-nothing player. Even as a kid in the sixties, I was more of an Oliva fan. Killebrew did not even end his career here, and he turned his back in bitterness on the town for a period. 


Puckett and crew brought the area a two-time championship sports team and fans into the Dome, and Kirby did it with a workman's ethic and well-spoken charisma. He was only on the scene for a dozen years, but he was a reliable dynamo for all of them, and he came through in the biggest of sports moments.


Notwithstanding his lost years after his career was cut short, Puckett has been my favorite ballplayer for 34 years and counting.

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