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30 Years Ago Today in Twins History: A Perfect Day

Posted by Doubles , 30 August 2017 · 963 views

30 Years Ago Today in Twins History:  A Perfect Day The 1987 season was a magical ride for the Minnesota Twins and their fans. The 162 game baseball season is often referred to as a “Marathon, not a sprint.” Thirty years later, one game on a Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee still stands out in my mind above all the rest.

The Twins entered play on Sunday, August 30th, 1987 in a virtual tie with the Oakland Athletics atop the American League West Division, with a record of 68-63. (Coincidentally, the 2017 Twins also enter play on August 30th at 68-63.) Twins manager Tom Kelly sent pitcher Frank Viola to the mound, facing the Brewers Juan Nieves. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Minnesota. Dad & I had gone fishing that afternoon, and we had the ballgame on in the boat. Just a wonderful day.

A first inning RBI single by Kirby Puckett, followed by a solo Puckett homer in the 3rd staked Viola and the Twins to an early 2-0 lead. The Brewers answered with three runs in their half of the 4th, taking a 3-2 lead. The Twins responded with a three run inning of their own in the fifth, reclaiming the lead 5-3.

A one-out single by future Twin player, Manager, and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, brought another future Hall of Famer- Robin Yount- to the plate with the bases loaded. Yount sent a towering fly ball to center field. It looked like a sure grand slam. Enter center fielder Kirby Puckett:
https://youtu.be/o-YeunaFKyA

The Brewers still managed to score three runs in the inning, taking a 6-5 lead after six. But Puckett’s clutch catch kept the inning from getting out of hand and also kept the Twins within striking distance until they could muster up another rally in the top of the eighth inning.

Greg Gagne lead off with a single, followed by Puckett’s second double of the game. Gary Gaetti was intentionally walked to load the bases. The Twins went on to scratch out three runs on a Kent Hrbek sacrifice fly and a two-run single from Gene Larkin to take an 8-6 lead.

Relievers Keith Atherton and Jeff Reardon combined to shut the Brewers down in the eighth inning. The Twins looked to tack on some insurance in the top of the ninth. With two outs and nobody on, Brewers All-Star Closer Dan Plesac got Gagne to swing and miss and strike three. However, the inning was extended when Brewers catcher Bill Schroeder was charged with a passed ball, allowing Gagne to reach first base. That set the stage for Puckett’s final at-bat.

Puckett was cleary in “The Zone” during this series in Milwaukee. The day before, on August 29, 1987- Puckett went 4 for 5 with two home runs in a 12-3 drubbing of the Brew Crew. During that sixth at-bat on Sunday- the one that shouldn’t have even happened in the first place- Puck put an exclamation point on one of the best two-day stretchers a player has had in Major League history. Kirby jumped on an outside fastball from Plesac. Twins fans knew his patented bat-flip was a sure sign that Puckett had gotten ahold of one, and indeed he had. The ball rocketed into the right field bleachers at County Stadium. Six for six. A perfect day.
https://youtu.be/bu-9xO0nMZk

All told, Puckett finished the game with two singles, two doubles, two dingers, four runs scored, and four runs batted it. And don’t forget about Puck’s outstanding catch to rob Yount of a grand slam and to set the stage for the Twins eighth inning rally. This was, without a doubt- the single most dominant performance I have ever seen in baseball by a position player.

The win enabled the Twins to take sole possession of first place in the AL West over Oakland, a lead they would not relinquish. This was the game that really started hooking Twins fans on this team. This was the very moment that Minnesotans started doing something very dangerous: wondering if their team was on the verge of something very, very special. In one of the rarest of all seasons, the home team delivered the goods, as the Twins capped the 1987 season as World Series Champions.

If anyone wonders why baseball is important to me, there are plenty of reasons for that. But days like August 30th, 1987 certainly come to the front of my mind: Fishing with Dad, listening to the Twins on the radio, and the greatest performance by a position player kick-starting the Minnesota Twins to a division title and ultimately a World Championship. A perfect day, indeed.




I never get enough of reading about that game.

It was the only game I ever attended at Milwaukee County Stadium.

Good for me!