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What Player Made You Fall in Love With the Twins?


Andrew Mahlke
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I was a youngster in '61 when the Twins arrived from Washington and Harmon was a father figure that I admired. Later, I thought I would like to hang out with Gaetti and Gagne (two very different personalities) who were around my age. Then, I really liked Cuddyer, the kind of guy I would like one of my daughters to bring home from college. 

Throughout the years, I always pulled hardest for the guys who weren't the best player on the team, but were good players. Amongst the pitchers, my favorite was Nathan, whose story of going from a college shortstop to failed starter to All-Star closer over the years. 

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13 hours ago, ashbury said:

I moved to the Twin Cities late in the season, August 1978, so Rod Carew didn't really get a chance to register profoundly.  He made his mark for me more from the trade, and I tried desperately hard to root for Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell, Brad Havens and Ken Landreaux that next season but it didn't quite work out.  Bob Casey announcing BOM-bo Ri-VER-a was supposed to be a hint about whom to be excited about, but that didn't take for me, either.  It was great to have Koosman to root for - you almost felt like the Twins FO was trying - but fall in love, not quite.  It was a dreary era to have chosen to adopt the team.

The article asks about love.  Love is a tricky thing.  Sometimes it takes a lot time before you realize it.  The core that won it all in 1987 and 1991 began to appear on the roster in 1981-2.  The future Mrs Ash showed up in the Twin Cities around that same time, after much minor league seasoning in California, and we were married in 1983.  So that was when the relationships deepened., both with her and with the Twins.

The Twins were no love-at-first-sight situation for me.  Nothing like shallow infatuation.  It wasn't one player.  Hrbie.   Kirby.   Frankie.   Bruno.   The Rat.   Newmie.   Bert.   They all just kind of snuck up on me.  I can't possibly answer the question with one name.

 

Oh man.. I got ALL the feels.... sniff

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I came of age as a Twins fan in 1986, so I had an embarrassment of riches to choose from. However, it was Dan Gladden that made me love the idea of playing baseball at full throttle and with a dirty jersey. I wasn't a tough kid, but I admired his toughness and his fight. I loved that he was a Twin.

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22 minutes ago, Eris said:

Danny Thompson. 1970 First year that started following the Twins. Rod Carew is injured mid season and Danny Thompson is called up and played some great D at 2B. 

I had to lookup Danny Thompson - 28 wRC+ that year... that must have been serious leather to overcome swinging a pool noodle at the dish

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Great topic.  Thanks for sharing it.  I am an old fart so for me I was a Twins fan from the time they arrived, but the player that really got me excited was Tony O.  He was such a complete player, and like some other Twins--Puckett for example--he would get hits off pitches from his toes to his cap.  He was a 5 tool guy.  It is such a shame that he was hurt.  Otherwise, his numbers would be even more impressive.  Pitching wise, I love Camilo.  Boy, he would never have survived with a pitch clock!

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Hrbek. As a child I first became aware of baseball and the Twins in 1982, maybe because of all the buzz surrounding the opening of the dome. Anyway, the team that year was not great, but we had this new guy from Bloomington. He was a big man who hit the ball very far. He will always be my favorite player.

On a side note, I don't think Hrbek gets enough appreciation for what a good player he was. I think people only remember the last few years when he was just another big, out-of-shape guy who got hurt all the time.  For most of his career he not only hit for power, but he had a career OBP .367. He could move well and flash the leather at 1B.

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2 hours ago, LewFordLives said:

Hrbek. As a child I first became aware of baseball and the Twins in 1982, maybe because of all the buzz surrounding the opening of the dome. Anyway, the team that year was not great, but we had this new guy from Bloomington. He was a big man who hit the ball very far. He will always be my favorite player.

On a side note, I don't think Hrbek gets enough appreciation for what a good player he was. I think people only remember the last few years when he was just another big, out-of-shape guy who got hurt all the time.  For most of his career he not only hit for power, but he had a career OBP .367. He could move well and flash the leather at 1B.

I still remember a comment from Peter Gammons on the night Hrbek retired. “If he would have taken better care of himself, he might have made the Hall of Fame,” Gammons said. “But we wouldn’t have loved him as much.” 

As noted above, Tony O made me a Twins fan. But after some time of not paying as much attention to baseball during high school, Hrbek brought the love back for me. 

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Growing up in Buffalo, half the kids were Yankees fans, the other half picked teams like the Big Red Machine, the A's and Pirates. One day I got a package from my grandmother in Minnesota. Twins shirt, pennant, and poster. Looking at the league leaders in the paper I saw the names Hisle, Olivia, Killebrew, Perry, Blyleven. But the name at the top of the batting leaders stuck out. Carew. And he was THE guy for me. Until Kirby came along...

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19 hours ago, Sconnie said:

I had to lookup Danny Thompson - 28 wRC+ that year... that must have been serious leather to overcome swinging a pool noodle at the dish

Yeah, the pleasant surprise when they handed the shortstop job to Danny Thompson in 1972 was seeing that he could indeed hit—especially when  shortstops weren’t expected to.  He became a favorite player for me at that point.

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