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  1. We may be deprived of current player baseball news due to the lockout, but the Minnesota Twins provided an update on their team Hall of Fame Thursday when it was announced Ron Gardenhire, Dan Gladden, and Cesar Tovar would join the ranks. The trio will become the 35th, 36th, and 37th members of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. The organization began the Hall of Fame with its inaugural class back in 2000. In the 22 years since, we’ve seen names like Bert Blyleven, Torii Hunter, Zoilo Versailles, and Justin Morneau added to the ranks. The lone player to be elected but not inducted was Chuck Knoblauch back in 2014. Ron Gardenhire served the Twins as a manager for 13 seasons. He posted a .507 winning percentage owning a final record of 1,068-1,039. His wins trail only Tom Kelly for most all-time in team history. During six of Gardy’s 13 seasons as manager, the Twins won the American League Central Division. Gardenhire’s high win total came in 2006 when Minnesota recorded 96 wins. The team was strapped in the postseason, having recently lost starting lefty, Francisco Liriano. He went on to win the American League Manager of the Year award in 2010 when the Twins ripped off 94 victories. Ron Gardenhire will always be synonymous with the strong divisional Twins clubs of the 2000s. Dan Gladden may now be most known for his work with Twins Radio but has been a member of the organization for 28 years. Winning two World Series rings in Minnesota, Gladden operated as the leadoff hitter and owns the club record for postseason runs scored and stolen bases. Gladden crossing home plate in the bottom of the 10th inning during Game 7 of the 1991 World Series gave the Twins their second World Series. A staple on Twins Radio, Gladden is coming up on an opportunity to land himself as the fourth-longest tenured broadcaster in club history. Cesar Tovar has long been advocated for enshrinement by fans and now will finally get his due. Playing eight seasons for the Twins, Tovar racked up MVP votes in five consecutive years from 1967-1971. A speed threat, Tovar is third all-time in stolen bases for the Twins and ranks seventh in triples. While position players pitching may have become a thing now, Tovar became the second player in American or National League history to play all nine positions in a single game on September 22, 1968. The Minnesota Twins announced that on-field ceremonies would take place pre-game on August 20 and 21st at Target Field before Minnesota’s tilts with the Texas Rangers. What are your favorite memories of Gardy, Gladden, and Tovar? Who would you like to see inducted next season? View full article
  2. The trio will become the 35th, 36th, and 37th members of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. The organization began the Hall of Fame with its inaugural class back in 2000. In the 22 years since, we’ve seen names like Bert Blyleven, Torii Hunter, Zoilo Versailles, and Justin Morneau added to the ranks. The lone player to be elected but not inducted was Chuck Knoblauch back in 2014. Ron Gardenhire served the Twins as a manager for 13 seasons. He posted a .507 winning percentage owning a final record of 1,068-1,039. His wins trail only Tom Kelly for most all-time in team history. During six of Gardy’s 13 seasons as manager, the Twins won the American League Central Division. Gardenhire’s high win total came in 2006 when Minnesota recorded 96 wins. The team was strapped in the postseason, having recently lost starting lefty, Francisco Liriano. He went on to win the American League Manager of the Year award in 2010 when the Twins ripped off 94 victories. Ron Gardenhire will always be synonymous with the strong divisional Twins clubs of the 2000s. Dan Gladden may now be most known for his work with Twins Radio but has been a member of the organization for 28 years. Winning two World Series rings in Minnesota, Gladden operated as the leadoff hitter and owns the club record for postseason runs scored and stolen bases. Gladden crossing home plate in the bottom of the 10th inning during Game 7 of the 1991 World Series gave the Twins their second World Series. A staple on Twins Radio, Gladden is coming up on an opportunity to land himself as the fourth-longest tenured broadcaster in club history. Cesar Tovar has long been advocated for enshrinement by fans and now will finally get his due. Playing eight seasons for the Twins, Tovar racked up MVP votes in five consecutive years from 1967-1971. A speed threat, Tovar is third all-time in stolen bases for the Twins and ranks seventh in triples. While position players pitching may have become a thing now, Tovar became the second player in American or National League history to play all nine positions in a single game on September 22, 1968. The Minnesota Twins announced that on-field ceremonies would take place pre-game on August 20 and 21st at Target Field before Minnesota’s tilts with the Texas Rangers. What are your favorite memories of Gardy, Gladden, and Tovar? Who would you like to see inducted next season?
  3. Still, it’s a good month and a half until pitchers and catchers report, and absent a Josh Donaldson signing or a franchise-altering trade, you have a grim winter stretch ahead of you. You’ll need to start talking yourself into Bailey and Hill being the saviors this rotation so desperately needs. Here’s how: Homer Bailey has thrown two no-hitters in his career. Yes, they were 7-8 years ago. But! The Rule of Threes exists for a reason. He’s due! Rich Hill just got arrested because his wife got arrested over the NFL’s exquisitely dumb personal bag policy. He’s a bad boy who fights for justice and stands up for his family! This is arguably the most interesting thing a Twins player has done off the field since Steve Lombardozzi and Dan Gladden started wrasslin’ on the Dazzle Man’s property. This is just a note that I would watch a 30-for-30 about that fight right now. The AL Central is going to be bad again. Detroit and Kansas City will be SuperFund sites. Chicago will be interesting and annoying but probably nothing more than that. Nobody knows what Cleveland is doing but no one thinks it’s good. You can probably ride this rotation as it stands to another title and move the impact pitching goal posts to a midseason trade. Reiterating that we need a documentary about the Lombo/Gladden fight or the bad vibes of the whole 1988 season. Gaetti finding the Lord and alienating Hrbek, the Brunansky/Herr disaster, the trade of future Moneyball architect Billy Beane…it’s all there, folks. Houston gets a postseason ban for cheating. Hey, they do it in college sports all the time! Take a seat, you garbage can-banging scofflaws. The New York Yankees get contracted for reasons. The Twins are going to the World Series with Homer Bailey and Rich Hill leading the way. There. I’ve talked you into it. If the Gophers can beat Auburn in a New Year’s Day bowl game, this can happen too. (That said they should definitely trade for somebody. Anybody. Please.)
  4. This is an excerpt from a story originating at Zone Coverage. Please click here to read the full story. One thing I really like about baseball is that there’s always just so much going on. If you don’t pay attention 100 percent, you can easily miss something. One thing I hone in on is weird personality quirks or tics players have while on the field. Josh Willingham used to open his eyes really wide before stepping into the batter’s box. Addison Reed immediately props his cap atop his head the second he walks off the mound because he hates how they feel pulled all the way down. But the other night, I tweeted that one of my favorite things this season was the “Bobby Wilson monocle” celebration every time he gets a hit. This is what it looks like: To me, it looks like Mr. Peanut and perhaps could signify a seeing-eye single. In baseball slang, a seeing-eye single is a ball that just sneaks through the infield. In some circles, you might hear it called a “Texas Leaguer,” but the general idea is all the same. But when I approached Wilson’s locker to talk to him about a completely unrelated subject — for a column that’ll come out sometime this weekend — I figured I might as well shoot my shot and find out what it was all about. I wasn’t expecting much of an answer. Wilson isn’t exactly Chris Gimenez as far as quotes go, but he’s a friendly face in the clubhouse who is always willing to talk shop. In this business, you grow to like the guys who let you put away the recorder and notebook as much as those who fill them up. Wilson is one of those guys, but it isn’t like I served him a hunk of choice beef waiting for him to sear it and send it back medium-rare. It was me lobbing him a softball to break the ice for the conversation I was really hoping to have. “It’s actually a good story,” Wilson said as he reached into his locker. “I was going through an especially difficult stretch offensively, and I went up to (Twins radio voice and former player) Danny Gladden and just said, ‘Danny, I need a hug.'” Wilson got his hug, but not before he got an education. “You ever heard of the Eye of the Tiger?” Gladden quizzed Wilson. Wilson thought for a while, and was like, “Uh, you mean like the song from Rocky or whatever?”
  5. March 25, 1874 Birthdate of Bill Carney It’s the birthdate of Bill Carney, born 144 years ago in St. Paul. He played outfield in his only two major league games with the Chicago Cubs on August 22, 1904 at age 30, going 0-for-7 in a doubleheader. He played 16 professional seasons altogether, as both a pitcher and outfielder, including stints in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Carney passed away July 31, 1938 at age 64. He is buried at Grandview Cemetery in Hopkins. March 25, 1983 Twins Trade Butera The Twins and Tigers swap catchers, with Minnesota sending Salvatore Butera to Detroit for minor leaguer Stine Poole and cash money. Sal had made Twins history on May 29, 1982, throwing out four baserunners in a 6-4 loss to the Yankees at home in the Dome. The Twins re-signed Butera as a free agent on May 22, 1987. Sal and Drew Butera are the only father-son combination to play for the Twins. They have pretty impressive big league pitching résumés, too. Sal did not allow a hit in his two major league pitching appearances. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning for Montreal in 1985. In 1986 he pitched a scoreless ninth for the Cincinnati Reds, walking one and striking out one. Drew, meanwhile, pitched a hitless bottom of the eighth for the Twins on May 20, 2012, walking one Brewer and striking out Carlos Gómez. Playing for the Dodgers, he pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth versus the Marlins on May 14, 2014. While playing with the Dodgers in 2014, Drew pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning versus the Miami Marlins. Altogether, major league hitters have gone 3-for-15 (.200) with a walk in five games versus Butera. March 26, 1989 Twins Trade Atherton for Castillo The Twins trade relief pitcher Keith Atherton to Cleveland for corner outfielder Carmelo Castillo. The Twins had originally acquired Atherton from Oakland on May 20, 1986. On May 28 he was one of a Twins record five pitchers to work the eight-run eighth inning in a 14-8 loss to Toronto at the Metrodome on May 28, 1986. He made 59 regular season appearances, and three postseason appearances in 1987. He relieved Frank Viola in the bottom of the sixth of Game 4 of the ALCS with the Twins up 4-2 but with the tying run on first. He gave up a RBI single to Dave Bergman, moving Darrell Evans up to third representing the tying run. After Mike Heath bunted Bergman—representing the go-ahead run—up to second, Atherton was relieved by Juan Berenguer. Then, with Lou Whitaker at the plate, Tim Laudner made the play of the series, throwing to Gary Gaetti to pick Evans off third. The Twins escaped the inning clinging to a 4-3 lead, ultimately winning the game 5-3 to take a 3-1 Series lead. After Viola held the Cardinals to one run on just five hits over eight innings in Game 1 of the World Series, Atherton pitched a perfect top of the ninth for a 10-1 Twins win. He entered Game 5 in the bottom of the seventh with the Twins trailing 3-0. After grounding out pitcher Danny Cox to start the inning, he walked speedster Vince Coleman, and balked him to second before giving way to Jeff Reardon. Coleman then stole third, and scored on an Ozzie Smith infield single. The Cardinals went on to win 4-2, taking a 3-2 Series lead. 1989 would be Atherton’s final major league season. Carmelo Castillo had played seven seasons in Cleveland, averaging 66 games a year. After playing 94 games with the Twins in 1989, and 64 in 1990, his major league career fizzled out early in the 1991 season, going 2-for-12 over nine games. He played his final big league game on May 9. March 27 Happy 50th Birthday, Tom Quinlan It’s the birthday of 1986 Hill-Murray graduate Tom Quinlan, born in St. Paul in 1968. Tom was a “Mr. Hockey” finalist his senior season at Hill-Murray. He was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 4th round, and Toronto Blue Jays in the 27th round out of high school. He made his major league debut on September 4, 1990 at age 22. His first at-bat was cut short when current White Sox Executive Vice President was caught try to steal second, ending the inning. Quinlan struck out leading off the following inning. He doubled off Frank Tanana in his next at-bat for his first major league hit. Quinlan hit his only big league homer while playing for the Phillies on May 29, 1994 off Doug Drabek, who would make his only All-Star team that season despite winning 22 games and the NL Cy Young Award in 1990. Quinlan only faced his hometown Twins once, pinch-hitting for Kelly Gruber on September 4, 1992 in Toronto, going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Paul Abbott. Altogether, Quinlan appeared in only 42 games over parts of four seasons. He was briefly a Minnesota Twin in 1996, going 0-for-6 in his final four major league games. Tom’s brother Robb Quinlan had one of the greatest careers in Gophers history, and went on to play parts of eight seasons with the Angels. Read about Robb here: TwinsAlmanac.com/RobbQuinlan. March 27 Happy 39th Birthday, Michael Cuddyer It’s the birthday of 2x All-Star, 2013 National League Batting Champion and current Twins Special Assistant Michael Cuddyer, born in Norfolk, VA in 1979. The Twins drafted Cuddy in the first round (9th overall) in 1997 out of high school. He made his major league debut on September 23, 2001 at age 22 in a 4-2 loss to Cleveland at the Metrodome. He walked in his first at-bat, struck out, and doubled, all off five-time All-Star Chuck Finley. On September 21, 2005, Cuddyer went 4-for-4 with three doubles, a home run, four RBI, and two runs scored in a 10-4 Twins win in Oakland, tying the team single-game record of four extra-hits established by César Tovar on May 21, 1967, and matched by Kirby Puckett in 1987 and ’89, Rich Becker in 1996, and Corey Koskie in 2001. Cuddyer hit eight grand slams in his career—five with the Twins (including his second career home run), and three with the Rockies. He hit two grand slams in a four-day span on June 7 and June 10, 2006. He homered leading off the second for the Twins’ only run of the game in Texas on August 19, 2007 as Johan Santana struck out a team record 17 in just eight innings. Joe Nathanpitched the ninth, saving a 1-0 win. Cuddyer hit for the tenth and most recent cycle in Twins history in an 11-3 win over Milwaukee at the Metrodome on on May 22, 2009. The first nine cycles were hit by Rod Carew (1970), César Tovar (‘72), Larry Hisle (‘76), Lyman Bostock (‘76), Mike Cubbage (‘78), Gary Ward (‘80), Kirby Puckett (‘86), Carlos Gómez (‘08), and Jason Kubel (April 17, 2009). Cuddyer became the only player in Twins history to homer twice in the same inning on August 23, 2009 in Kansas City. The game was tied 1-1 when Cuddyer led off the seventh with a homer. Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Orlando Cabrera combined to drive in five more runs before Cuddyer came up again, this time with Joe Mauer on first, and homered for the second time in the inning. The third place Twins would go on to win 10-3. Every game truly mattered in 2009, as the Twins finished the 162-game schedule in a tie with Detroit. We all know what happened next. Cuddyer collected the first regular season RBI in Target Field history, singling home Denard Span in the first inning on April 12, 2010. Cuddyer, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Frank Quilici, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, Ron Gardenhire, and Paul Molitor served as pallbearers at Harmon Killebrew‘s funeral on May 20, 2011 in Arizona. Cuddyer hit an 0-2 double off the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner as part of eight-straight hits to start the game on June 21, 2011, tying the major league record. Bumgarner struck out Twins pitcher Carl Pavano on three pitches for his first and only out of the inning. He was pulled after Ben Revere doubled for his second hit of the inning, giving the Twins a 8-0 lead. On July 25, 2011, Cuddyer became the first Twins position player to pitch since John Moses in 1990. After professional pitchers had given up 20 runs to the Rangers, Cuddyer pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth. Cuddyer signed with the Rockies prior to the 2012 season. He won the National League batting title with a .331 average in 2013. Former Twins teammate Justin Morneau joined Cuddyer in Colorado for the 2014 season, and won the NL batting crown with a .319 average. Michael Cuddyer was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame on August 19, 2007, the day before former general manager Andy MacPhail. March 27 Happy 28th Birthday, Jake Esch It’s the birthday of 2008 Cretin-Derham Hall graduate Jake Esch, born in St. Paul in 1990. The Marlins drafted the 6-foot-3 righty in the 11th round in 2011 out of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Esch made his major league debut on August 31, 2016 at age 26, making the start in New York against Bartolo Colón and the Mets. After inducing a groundout from four-time All-Star José Reyes, Esch struck out Asdrúbal Cabrera and Yoenis Céspedes swinging for a 1-2-3 first inning. That may have been the peak of his major career career so far. He started the second by walking Curtis Granderson and giving up a two-run home run to Wilmer Flores. He was pulled after 4.1 innings having given up the two runs on seven hits and three walks. He made three starts in total in 2016, pitching just 13 innings, giving up eight runs on 17 hits (four home runs) and six walks while striking out 10. He was selected off waivers by the Padres on March 31, 2017. He made one relief appearance for the Padres in 2017, walking both batters he faced on April 12 at Coors Field. Esch is currently a free agent. March 27, 1973 Perry Okays Trade to Tigers 37-year old pitcher Jim Perry okays a trade to Detroit for pitcher Danny Fife and cash money. The Twins had originally acquired Perry—who finished runner-up to Washington’s Bob Allison in 1959 AL Rookie of the Year balloting—from Cleveland in exchange for Jack Kralick on May 2, 1963. Kralick had pitched the first no-hitter in Twins history the previous season, on August 26, 1962. Perry was used as both a starter and reliever during his first five season in Minnesota, including the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. He played one heckuva game at Yankee Stadium on April 13, 1968—the Twins’ third game of the season—pitching a four-hit shutout and homering in the top of the ninth. Teammate Jim Kaat pitched a shutout and homered in the same game twice in his career. Perry won 20 games in 1969 as the Twins won the American League West pennant. He won two games against the Seattle Pilots on July 20. First he earned the win in a game resumed in the 17th inning from the day before. Then he pitched a shutout in the regularly scheduled game. 1970 was the first season Perry was used exclusively as a starter, and he was used extensively, leading the league with 40 starts, and tying for the major league lead with 24 wins en route to winning the first Cy Young Award in Twins history. Perry played ten seasons in Minnesota altogether. He is fifth in Twins history in both wins (128) and innings pitched. He was inducted into the team Hall of Fame on June 11, 2011. Danny Fife, meanwhile, came up with the Twins in August 1973. After three quality outings, things got pretty ugly pretty fast. His major league career ground to a halt in April 1974, giving up 11 runs on 10 hits and four walks in just 4.2 innings pitched over four games. March 27, 2005 Bob Casey Passes Away World War II veteran and the only public address announcer in Twins history Bob Casey passes away at the VA in Minneapolis as a result of complications of liver cancer and pneumonia, which he had contracted while visiting Twins Spring Training earlier in the month despite his poor health. He was 79 years old. Casey, who was universally liked and respected, developed relationships with many players over the course of his career, one of whom was Alex Rodriguez. When A-Rod learned of Casey’s condition from Twins broadcasters John Gordon and Dan Gladden, he called Casey in the hospital. From Mark Sheldon’s story for the team website: Casey was hoping to work part-time for a 45th season and announce his retirement in June when Rodriguez and the Yankees were scheduled to be in town. “He spoke a lot, but it was hard to understand him,” Rodriguez said of the final conversation with Casey. “His son was kind of translating what he was trying to say. His son told me that Puckett and myself were his favorites, and that he wanted to go out this year in June … (and) have me take him out there and throw out the first pitch. It was very emotional.”Casey was eulogized at St. Olaf Catholic Church on March 30, 2005, and laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden, Jack Morris, John Gordon, and Dave St. Peter served as pallbearers. Also in attendance were Carl Pohlad, Roy Smalley, Juan Berenguer, Tim Laudner, and Scott Leius. If you ask me, the Twins should find a way to incorporate Casey’s Kirby Puckett intro into every Target Field home game. And maybe his “No Smoking” proclamation. Maybe overdub Kent Hrbek saying “Target Field” instead of “Metrodome.” March 28, 1996 Puckett Wakes Up with Vision Problem 36-year-old superstar Kirby Puckett appears poised for a big year, hitting .344 in Spring Training, when, on the last day of camp, he wakes up unable to see out of his right eye. He would be diagnosed with glaucoma and, one day later, placed on the 15-Day Disabled List for the first time in his career. Quoting directly from a New York Times article from March 31, 1996: “Kirby Puckett’s blurry vision is being caused by a partial blockage of a blood vessel in his right eye, and the Minnesota outfielder will miss the season opener, the Twins said Friday after placing him on the 15-day disabled list … retroactive to Thursday, making him eligible to return April 12. During that time, he will undergo treatment and will be able to work out with the club. Matt Lawton, who went 2 for 4 with a run batted in in Puckett’s place Friday, will start against the Tigers tomorrow.”Unfortunately, four surgeries did nothing to improve Puckett’s vision, and he officially retired on July 12. Read the Twins Almanac’s complete profile of Puckett. March 29 Happy 57th Birthday, Mike Kingery It’s the birthday of 1979 Atwater High School graduate Mike Kingery, born in Saint James, MN in 1961. When he was six months old the Kingerys moved to Atwater where Mike’s father was proprietor of the Atwater Bowling Center. Kingery signed with the Royals as an amateur free agent on August 27, 1979. He made his major league debut in Kansas City on July 7, 1986 at age 25, going 2-for-4 in a 8-1 loss to the Orioles. He would go on to play 819 major league games over parts of 10 seasons with Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, Colorado, and Pittsburgh. A career .268 hitter, Kingery’s best season by far came at age 33 in Colorado during the strike-shortened 1994 season when he hit .349 over 105 games. Kingery hit .290 in 24 career games versus the Minnesota Twins, including a home run off Les Straker on July 29, 1987. That same season he hit two home runs off 1973 Highland Park High School graduate Jack Morris. Kingery and Blix Donnelly headlined the seven-member 2014 inaugural class of the West Central Baseball Hall of Fame in Willmar. Mrs. Johnson and I swung into the Moose Lake Dairy Queen a few summers ago, and were interested to see a poster for “The Kingery Family,” a travelling singing and ministry troupe. Turns out Mike and his wife Chris are parents of EIGHT children. In addition to his minstrel work, Mike Kingery operates the Solid Foundation Baseball School in Grove City, MN. March 30, 1981 Twins Trade Landreaux for Hatcher The Twins trade Ken Landreaux to the Dodgers for Mickey Hatcher and a pair of prospects. They had acquired Landreaux and three prospects from the Angels two years earlier in exchange for Rod Carew. Landreaux made Twins history twice during the 1980 season. He compiled a Twins record 31-game hitting streak from April 23 to May 30. Then, on July 3, he tied the modern major league record (since 1900) with three triples in a 10-3 home victory over Texas. Denard Span matched that record on June 29, 2010. Landreaux made his lone All-Star team in 1980 despite actually having one of his least productive seasons, posting a -0.2 WAR (per Baseball Reference). Hatcher made Twins history on April 28, 1985, going 4-for-5 in a 10-1 Twins win over Oakland at the Dome. He had gone 5-for-5 the previous day, giving him nine consecutive hits, tying the team record established by Tony Oliva in 1967. Todd Walker matched the feat in 1998. Hatcher, who had become a real fan-favorite, was released near the end of Spring Training 1987, but more on that in a moment. March 31, 1971 Twins Release Tiant Luis Tiant posted double-digit wins his first five seasons in Cleveland, including 21 in 1968, with a league-leading 1.60 ERA and 0.871 WHIP. Detroit’s Denny McLain led the majors with 31 wins, while St. Louis’s Bob Gibson led the majors with a 1.12 ERA and 0.853 WHIP. Quite a season for pitchers. Tiant tied for the major league lead with 20 losses in 1969, while still posting a 3.3 WAR. The Twins acquired Tiant and Stan Williams from Cleveland in exchange for Dean Chance, Ted Uhlaender, Graig Nettles, and Bob Miller on December 10, 1969. Tiant pitched in only 18 games for the Twins in 1970, going 7-3 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.349 WHIP, and 1.2 WAR. He was released by the Twins on March 31, 1971, signed by Atlanta on April 16, and released again on May 15 before finally signing with the Red Sox May 17. After one of the worst seasons of his career in 1971, Tiant posted double-digit wins the next eight consecutive seasons, including three seasons with 20+ wins. Thirty-one years later the Twins released David Ortiz, but that’s a story for another Almanac. March 31, 1987 Twins Acquire Gladden, Release Hatcher The Twins release fan-favorite Mickey Hatcher and acquire the much more dynamic Dan Gladden from San Francisco in exchange for two prospects and a player to be named later, who turned out to be 1982 Bemidji grad and Golden Gophers all-time great Bryan Hickerson. Hatcher was still owed $650,000 for 1987, and had a $100,000 buyout clause for 1988. It was the most expensive contract the Twins had eaten to date, but it would prove to be a prudent business decision, as Gladden would be a key contributor to the only two World Series championship teams in Twins history. A major appeal of Gladden was his game-changing speed. A newspaper headline the morning after the trade read “Popularity Sacrificed for Steals,” a motivation confirmed by Twins executive vice president Andy MacPhail, who said that “the reason we got him is he gives us speed. He can steal bases. He’s a good turf player.” Hatcher, who had been with the Twins since 1981, and peaked in ‘84, was a pretty one-dimensional player. “He just didn’t fit in,” Tom Kelly said; “there’s no place for him to play on this team. We have better athletes. We didn’t need him as a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, either.” The Gladden trade was the third significant move of the 1987 offseason. In February the Twins had acquired Jeff Reardon and Al Newman in separate trades with Montreal. They would trade for Joe Niekro on June 6, Dan Schatzeder on June 23, Steve Carlton on July 31, and Don Baylor on September 1. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Facebook and Twitter.
  6. This week's Almanac features former Twins Sal Butera, Keith Atherton, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Perry, Bob Casey, Kirby Puckett, Ken Landreaux, Mickey Hatcher, Luis Tiant, and Dan Gladden, and Minnesotan major leaguers Mike Kingery, Tom Quinlan, Jake Esch, and Bill Carney. March 25, 1874 Birthdate of Bill Carney It’s the birthdate of Bill Carney, born 144 years ago in St. Paul. He played outfield in his only two major league games with the Chicago Cubs on August 22, 1904 at age 30, going 0-for-7 in a doubleheader. He played 16 professional seasons altogether, as both a pitcher and outfielder, including stints in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Carney passed away July 31, 1938 at age 64. He is buried at Grandview Cemetery in Hopkins. March 25, 1983 Twins Trade Butera The Twins and Tigers swap catchers, with Minnesota sending Salvatore Butera to Detroit for minor leaguer Stine Poole and cash money. Sal had made Twins history on May 29, 1982, throwing out four baserunners in a 6-4 loss to the Yankees at home in the Dome. The Twins re-signed Butera as a free agent on May 22, 1987. Sal and Drew Butera are the only father-son combination to play for the Twins. They have pretty impressive big league pitching résumés, too. Sal did not allow a hit in his two major league pitching appearances. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning for Montreal in 1985. In 1986 he pitched a scoreless ninth for the Cincinnati Reds, walking one and striking out one. Drew, meanwhile, pitched a hitless bottom of the eighth for the Twins on May 20, 2012, walking one Brewer and striking out Carlos Gómez. Playing for the Dodgers, he pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth versus the Marlins on May 14, 2014. While playing with the Dodgers in 2014, Drew pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning versus the Miami Marlins. Altogether, major league hitters have gone 3-for-15 (.200) with a walk in five games versus Butera. March 26, 1989 Twins Trade Atherton for Castillo The Twins trade relief pitcher Keith Atherton to Cleveland for corner outfielder Carmelo Castillo. The Twins had originally acquired Atherton from Oakland on May 20, 1986. On May 28 he was one of a Twins record five pitchers to work the eight-run eighth inning in a 14-8 loss to Toronto at the Metrodome on May 28, 1986. He made 59 regular season appearances, and three postseason appearances in 1987. He relieved Frank Viola in the bottom of the sixth of Game 4 of the ALCS with the Twins up 4-2 but with the tying run on first. He gave up a RBI single to Dave Bergman, moving Darrell Evans up to third representing the tying run. After Mike Heath bunted Bergman—representing the go-ahead run—up to second, Atherton was relieved by Juan Berenguer. Then, with Lou Whitaker at the plate, Tim Laudner made the play of the series, throwing to Gary Gaetti to pick Evans off third. The Twins escaped the inning clinging to a 4-3 lead, ultimately winning the game 5-3 to take a 3-1 Series lead. After Viola held the Cardinals to one run on just five hits over eight innings in Game 1 of the World Series, Atherton pitched a perfect top of the ninth for a 10-1 Twins win. He entered Game 5 in the bottom of the seventh with the Twins trailing 3-0. After grounding out pitcher Danny Cox to start the inning, he walked speedster Vince Coleman, and balked him to second before giving way to Jeff Reardon. Coleman then stole third, and scored on an Ozzie Smith infield single. The Cardinals went on to win 4-2, taking a 3-2 Series lead. 1989 would be Atherton’s final major league season. Carmelo Castillo had played seven seasons in Cleveland, averaging 66 games a year. After playing 94 games with the Twins in 1989, and 64 in 1990, his major league career fizzled out early in the 1991 season, going 2-for-12 over nine games. He played his final big league game on May 9. March 27 Happy 50th Birthday, Tom Quinlan It’s the birthday of 1986 Hill-Murray graduate Tom Quinlan, born in St. Paul in 1968. Tom was a “Mr. Hockey” finalist his senior season at Hill-Murray. He was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 4th round, and Toronto Blue Jays in the 27th round out of high school. He made his major league debut on September 4, 1990 at age 22. His first at-bat was cut short when current White Sox Executive Vice President was caught try to steal second, ending the inning. Quinlan struck out leading off the following inning. He doubled off Frank Tanana in his next at-bat for his first major league hit. Quinlan hit his only big league homer while playing for the Phillies on May 29, 1994 off Doug Drabek, who would make his only All-Star team that season despite winning 22 games and the NL Cy Young Award in 1990. Quinlan only faced his hometown Twins once, pinch-hitting for Kelly Gruber on September 4, 1992 in Toronto, going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Paul Abbott. Altogether, Quinlan appeared in only 42 games over parts of four seasons. He was briefly a Minnesota Twin in 1996, going 0-for-6 in his final four major league games. Tom’s brother Robb Quinlan had one of the greatest careers in Gophers history, and went on to play parts of eight seasons with the Angels. Read about Robb here: TwinsAlmanac.com/RobbQuinlan. March 27 Happy 39th Birthday, Michael Cuddyer It’s the birthday of 2x All-Star, 2013 National League Batting Champion and current Twins Special Assistant Michael Cuddyer, born in Norfolk, VA in 1979. The Twins drafted Cuddy in the first round (9th overall) in 1997 out of high school. He made his major league debut on September 23, 2001 at age 22 in a 4-2 loss to Cleveland at the Metrodome. He walked in his first at-bat, struck out, and doubled, all off five-time All-Star Chuck Finley. On September 21, 2005, Cuddyer went 4-for-4 with three doubles, a home run, four RBI, and two runs scored in a 10-4 Twins win in Oakland, tying the team single-game record of four extra-hits established by César Tovar on May 21, 1967, and matched by Kirby Puckett in 1987 and ’89, Rich Becker in 1996, and Corey Koskie in 2001. Cuddyer hit eight grand slams in his career—five with the Twins (including his second career home run), and three with the Rockies. He hit two grand slams in a four-day span on June 7 and June 10, 2006. He homered leading off the second for the Twins’ only run of the game in Texas on August 19, 2007 as Johan Santana struck out a team record 17 in just eight innings. Joe Nathanpitched the ninth, saving a 1-0 win. Cuddyer hit for the tenth and most recent cycle in Twins history in an 11-3 win over Milwaukee at the Metrodome on on May 22, 2009. The first nine cycles were hit by Rod Carew (1970), César Tovar (‘72), Larry Hisle (‘76), Lyman Bostock (‘76), Mike Cubbage (‘78), Gary Ward (‘80), Kirby Puckett (‘86), Carlos Gómez (‘08), and Jason Kubel (April 17, 2009). Cuddyer became the only player in Twins history to homer twice in the same inning on August 23, 2009 in Kansas City. The game was tied 1-1 when Cuddyer led off the seventh with a homer. Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Orlando Cabrera combined to drive in five more runs before Cuddyer came up again, this time with Joe Mauer on first, and homered for the second time in the inning. The third place Twins would go on to win 10-3. Every game truly mattered in 2009, as the Twins finished the 162-game schedule in a tie with Detroit. We all know what happened next. Cuddyer collected the first regular season RBI in Target Field history, singling home Denard Span in the first inning on April 12, 2010. Cuddyer, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Frank Quilici, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, Ron Gardenhire, and Paul Molitor served as pallbearers at Harmon Killebrew‘s funeral on May 20, 2011 in Arizona. Cuddyer hit an 0-2 double off the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner as part of eight-straight hits to start the game on June 21, 2011, tying the major league record. Bumgarner struck out Twins pitcher Carl Pavano on three pitches for his first and only out of the inning. He was pulled after Ben Revere doubled for his second hit of the inning, giving the Twins a 8-0 lead. On July 25, 2011, Cuddyer became the first Twins position player to pitch since John Moses in 1990. After professional pitchers had given up 20 runs to the Rangers, Cuddyer pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth. Cuddyer signed with the Rockies prior to the 2012 season. He won the National League batting title with a .331 average in 2013. Former Twins teammate Justin Morneau joined Cuddyer in Colorado for the 2014 season, and won the NL batting crown with a .319 average. Michael Cuddyer was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame on August 19, 2007, the day before former general manager Andy MacPhail. March 27 Happy 28th Birthday, Jake Esch It’s the birthday of 2008 Cretin-Derham Hall graduate Jake Esch, born in St. Paul in 1990. The Marlins drafted the 6-foot-3 righty in the 11th round in 2011 out of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Esch made his major league debut on August 31, 2016 at age 26, making the start in New York against Bartolo Colón and the Mets. After inducing a groundout from four-time All-Star José Reyes, Esch struck out Asdrúbal Cabrera and Yoenis Céspedes swinging for a 1-2-3 first inning. That may have been the peak of his major career career so far. He started the second by walking Curtis Granderson and giving up a two-run home run to Wilmer Flores. He was pulled after 4.1 innings having given up the two runs on seven hits and three walks. He made three starts in total in 2016, pitching just 13 innings, giving up eight runs on 17 hits (four home runs) and six walks while striking out 10. He was selected off waivers by the Padres on March 31, 2017. He made one relief appearance for the Padres in 2017, walking both batters he faced on April 12 at Coors Field. Esch is currently a free agent. March 27, 1973 Perry Okays Trade to Tigers 37-year old pitcher Jim Perry okays a trade to Detroit for pitcher Danny Fife and cash money. The Twins had originally acquired Perry—who finished runner-up to Washington’s Bob Allison in 1959 AL Rookie of the Year balloting—from Cleveland in exchange for Jack Kralick on May 2, 1963. Kralick had pitched the first no-hitter in Twins history the previous season, on August 26, 1962. Perry was used as both a starter and reliever during his first five season in Minnesota, including the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. He played one heckuva game at Yankee Stadium on April 13, 1968—the Twins’ third game of the season—pitching a four-hit shutout and homering in the top of the ninth. Teammate Jim Kaat pitched a shutout and homered in the same game twice in his career. Perry won 20 games in 1969 as the Twins won the American League West pennant. He won two games against the Seattle Pilots on July 20. First he earned the win in a game resumed in the 17th inning from the day before. Then he pitched a shutout in the regularly scheduled game. 1970 was the first season Perry was used exclusively as a starter, and he was used extensively, leading the league with 40 starts, and tying for the major league lead with 24 wins en route to winning the first Cy Young Award in Twins history. Perry played ten seasons in Minnesota altogether. He is fifth in Twins history in both wins (128) and innings pitched. He was inducted into the team Hall of Fame on June 11, 2011. Danny Fife, meanwhile, came up with the Twins in August 1973. After three quality outings, things got pretty ugly pretty fast. His major league career ground to a halt in April 1974, giving up 11 runs on 10 hits and four walks in just 4.2 innings pitched over four games. March 27, 2005 Bob Casey Passes Away World War II veteran and the only public address announcer in Twins history Bob Casey passes away at the VA in Minneapolis as a result of complications of liver cancer and pneumonia, which he had contracted while visiting Twins Spring Training earlier in the month despite his poor health. He was 79 years old. Casey, who was universally liked and respected, developed relationships with many players over the course of his career, one of whom was Alex Rodriguez. When A-Rod learned of Casey’s condition from Twins broadcasters John Gordon and Dan Gladden, he called Casey in the hospital. From Mark Sheldon’s story for the team website: Casey was hoping to work part-time for a 45th season and announce his retirement in June when Rodriguez and the Yankees were scheduled to be in town. “He spoke a lot, but it was hard to understand him,” Rodriguez said of the final conversation with Casey. “His son was kind of translating what he was trying to say. His son told me that Puckett and myself were his favorites, and that he wanted to go out this year in June … (and) have me take him out there and throw out the first pitch. It was very emotional.” Casey was eulogized at St. Olaf Catholic Church on March 30, 2005, and laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden, Jack Morris, John Gordon, and Dave St. Peter served as pallbearers. Also in attendance were Carl Pohlad, Roy Smalley, Juan Berenguer, Tim Laudner, and Scott Leius. If you ask me, the Twins should find a way to incorporate Casey’s Kirby Puckett intro into every Target Field home game. And maybe his “No Smoking” proclamation. Maybe overdub Kent Hrbek saying “Target Field” instead of “Metrodome.” March 28, 1996 Puckett Wakes Up with Vision Problem 36-year-old superstar Kirby Puckett appears poised for a big year, hitting .344 in Spring Training, when, on the last day of camp, he wakes up unable to see out of his right eye. He would be diagnosed with glaucoma and, one day later, placed on the 15-Day Disabled List for the first time in his career. Quoting directly from a New York Times article from March 31, 1996: “Kirby Puckett’s blurry vision is being caused by a partial blockage of a blood vessel in his right eye, and the Minnesota outfielder will miss the season opener, the Twins said Friday after placing him on the 15-day disabled list … retroactive to Thursday, making him eligible to return April 12. During that time, he will undergo treatment and will be able to work out with the club. Matt Lawton, who went 2 for 4 with a run batted in in Puckett’s place Friday, will start against the Tigers tomorrow.” Unfortunately, four surgeries did nothing to improve Puckett’s vision, and he officially retired on July 12. Read the Twins Almanac’s complete profile of Puckett. March 29 Happy 57th Birthday, Mike Kingery It’s the birthday of 1979 Atwater High School graduate Mike Kingery, born in Saint James, MN in 1961. When he was six months old the Kingerys moved to Atwater where Mike’s father was proprietor of the Atwater Bowling Center. Kingery signed with the Royals as an amateur free agent on August 27, 1979. He made his major league debut in Kansas City on July 7, 1986 at age 25, going 2-for-4 in a 8-1 loss to the Orioles. He would go on to play 819 major league games over parts of 10 seasons with Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, Colorado, and Pittsburgh. A career .268 hitter, Kingery’s best season by far came at age 33 in Colorado during the strike-shortened 1994 season when he hit .349 over 105 games. Kingery hit .290 in 24 career games versus the Minnesota Twins, including a home run off Les Straker on July 29, 1987. That same season he hit two home runs off 1973 Highland Park High School graduate Jack Morris. Kingery and Blix Donnelly headlined the seven-member 2014 inaugural class of the West Central Baseball Hall of Fame in Willmar. Mrs. Johnson and I swung into the Moose Lake Dairy Queen a few summers ago, and were interested to see a poster for “The Kingery Family,” a travelling singing and ministry troupe. Turns out Mike and his wife Chris are parents of EIGHT children. In addition to his minstrel work, Mike Kingery operates the Solid Foundation Baseball School in Grove City, MN. March 30, 1981 Twins Trade Landreaux for Hatcher The Twins trade Ken Landreaux to the Dodgers for Mickey Hatcher and a pair of prospects. They had acquired Landreaux and three prospects from the Angels two years earlier in exchange for Rod Carew. Landreaux made Twins history twice during the 1980 season. He compiled a Twins record 31-game hitting streak from April 23 to May 30. Then, on July 3, he tied the modern major league record (since 1900) with three triples in a 10-3 home victory over Texas. Denard Span matched that record on June 29, 2010. Landreaux made his lone All-Star team in 1980 despite actually having one of his least productive seasons, posting a -0.2 WAR (per Baseball Reference). Hatcher made Twins history on April 28, 1985, going 4-for-5 in a 10-1 Twins win over Oakland at the Dome. He had gone 5-for-5 the previous day, giving him nine consecutive hits, tying the team record established by Tony Oliva in 1967. Todd Walker matched the feat in 1998. Hatcher, who had become a real fan-favorite, was released near the end of Spring Training 1987, but more on that in a moment. March 31, 1971 Twins Release Tiant Luis Tiant posted double-digit wins his first five seasons in Cleveland, including 21 in 1968, with a league-leading 1.60 ERA and 0.871 WHIP. Detroit’s Denny McLain led the majors with 31 wins, while St. Louis’s Bob Gibson led the majors with a 1.12 ERA and 0.853 WHIP. Quite a season for pitchers. Tiant tied for the major league lead with 20 losses in 1969, while still posting a 3.3 WAR. The Twins acquired Tiant and Stan Williams from Cleveland in exchange for Dean Chance, Ted Uhlaender, Graig Nettles, and Bob Miller on December 10, 1969. Tiant pitched in only 18 games for the Twins in 1970, going 7-3 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.349 WHIP, and 1.2 WAR. He was released by the Twins on March 31, 1971, signed by Atlanta on April 16, and released again on May 15 before finally signing with the Red Sox May 17. After one of the worst seasons of his career in 1971, Tiant posted double-digit wins the next eight consecutive seasons, including three seasons with 20+ wins. Thirty-one years later the Twins released David Ortiz, but that’s a story for another Almanac. March 31, 1987 Twins Acquire Gladden, Release Hatcher The Twins release fan-favorite Mickey Hatcher and acquire the much more dynamic Dan Gladden from San Francisco in exchange for two prospects and a player to be named later, who turned out to be 1982 Bemidji grad and Golden Gophers all-time great Bryan Hickerson. Hatcher was still owed $650,000 for 1987, and had a $100,000 buyout clause for 1988. It was the most expensive contract the Twins had eaten to date, but it would prove to be a prudent business decision, as Gladden would be a key contributor to the only two World Series championship teams in Twins history. A major appeal of Gladden was his game-changing speed. A newspaper headline the morning after the trade read “Popularity Sacrificed for Steals,” a motivation confirmed by Twins executive vice president Andy MacPhail, who said that “the reason we got him is he gives us speed. He can steal bases. He’s a good turf player.” Hatcher, who had been with the Twins since 1981, and peaked in ‘84, was a pretty one-dimensional player. “He just didn’t fit in,” Tom Kelly said; “there’s no place for him to play on this team. We have better athletes. We didn’t need him as a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, either.” The Gladden trade was the third significant move of the 1987 offseason. In February the Twins had acquired Jeff Reardon and Al Newman in separate trades with Montreal. They would trade for Joe Niekro on June 6, Dan Schatzeder on June 23, Steve Carlton on July 31, and Don Baylor on September 1. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Facebook and Twitter. Click here to view the article
  7. The nickname “Wrench” -- short for “Mr Goodwrench” -- came from Kent Hrbek. Hrbek said that Dan Gladden looked like he finished performing an oil change on a car. “He reminds you of a guy who took four auto-shop classes in high school,” Hrbek explained to Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy. ''Dan could strike out four times and somehow get dirty. The guy is a piece of work.'' “Wrench” was the perfect description for how Gladden played the game. With his speed, grit and hustle, it sometimes felt like he was hitting you with one.Gladden had a dour demeanor that rubbed some people the wrong way. While with the Giants, he had exchanged blows with teammate Jeffrey Leonard during an on-field batting practice. The scuffle stemmed from Gladden’s tendency to take long batting practice sessions, fouling off balls and taking extra cuts. This practice irked Leonard and one day Leonard let Gladden know it. Gladden, not one to back down from a fight, jumped Leonard. According to Hank Greenwald, the Giants play-by-play announcer who witnessed the melee from the booth, the two went at it next to the batting cage and ended up rolling in the dirt before being separated by other teammates. Brunansky, who faced Gladden in the minors, said that he “hated” the way Gladden played the game back then. “He seemed arrogant,” the Twins right fielder said. “He didn't seem to care how he went about it.” In spite of the reputation, the Twins front office felt that the team needed some of that hard scrabble attitude. Unsatisfied with the performance of veteran Mickey Hatcher, McPhail looked elsewhere for help and targeted Gladden, but the transaction took forever to complete. "Every time I talked to (Giants general manager) Al Rosen, he asked for either Jeff Bumgarner or Steve Gasser,” McPhail told the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman. “I wasn’t going to give either one up.” “We talked about the deal at least once every week until we made it. Atlanta and the Dodgers were very interested in Gladden. The Giants had made a deal with the Reds for Eddie Milner, and they had an abundance of outfielders. Rosen was reluctant to trade him to a team in the National League. He didn’t want Gladden to come back and hurt him.” McPhail said that the trade discussions started early in the offseason during the winter meetings, but the back and forth prolonged the deal until well into spring training. “Rosen finally called one day late in March and said he was going to deal Gladden that day. He said he was willing to make the trade for three of our young pitching prospects. He gave me a list of five, I took two out, and we made the trade.” With Gladden acquired, the Twins cut Hatcher on March 31. It was a shock to the fan base. Hatcher, who had played with the Twins for the last six years with a .284 average but inconsistent playing time, saw the writing on the wall as spring training played out and manager Tom Kelly used him less frequently in the exhibition games. “After two weeks of being here I knew it was over for me,” Hatcher told reporters. “When you’re only playing once every four days, you get the idea. It was obvious they wanted to look at the younger players.” McPhail said he wanted speed. Gladden, who had nabbed 94 bases in 138 attempts with the Giants and was capable of playing center field, would provide that dimension. Additionally, he was tabbed to assume the leadoff hitter role in place of Puckett, who had a breakout power year in 1986, allowing him to hit in the middle of the order where he was better suited and where Tom Kelly wanted him to bat. (Once he assumed the interim manager title the previous September, Kelly shifted Puckett out of the leadoff and into the third spot.) Kelly, however, wasn’t sure what to do with Gladden initially. In the season’s first game Gladden led off but was the designated hitter. It wasn’t until five games later that he got his first start in the outfield, only it was in right field. Kelly preferred Randy Bush and Mark Davidson while spot starting Gladden on occasion. It was not until mid-May that Gladden solidified his role as the team’s starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. Almost immediately, Twins players took notice of Gladden’s attitude. “We didn’t know much about him but we found out soon,” said left-handed reliever Dan Schatzeder. “In one of the first games he played for us, he got into a jawing match with an umpire. He was asserting himself right away. We thought, ‘This guy’s going to be interesting.’” Interesting is right. It would be another eight months before his infamous fight with Lombardozzi, but Gladden was about to provide a very memorable punch against the Cardinals. **** In his second at-bat of Game 1, Gladden grounded into a fielder’s choice, erasing Tim Laudner at second. The at-bat was a microcosm of who Gladden was as a leadoff hitter. Magrane struggled with his command, walking three of the last four hitters he faced. Common baseball sense would be to exert patience and make the rookie pitcher sweat through his polyester. However, rather than making Magrane squirm, Gladden took a cut at the the first pitch -- a big curve, no less -- and bounced the ball harmlessly to Lawless at third who fired to Herr at second to retire Laudner. That was the frustrating part of Gladden as a leadoff hitter. Of course, even though Gladden ignored standard practice like making a pitcher throw a glutton of pitches, on the bases he was able to set up camp right in the pitcher's mind. In spite of eliminating the lead runner, Gladden, now at first base, became all-consuming to the Cardinals’ rookie lefty who struggle to hold runners. Magrane paid extra attention (and then some) to the irritating long-haired runner who had taken 25 bases on 34 attempts during the regular season. What's more, Gladden was 18 for 21 in attempts in the Metrodome that year. And Magrane was terrible when it came to slowing down the run game -- runners had swiped 18 bases on 21 tries. His big body and lack of a slide step gave runners ample time to trot to the next base. Gladden, with one foot on the turf and one foot in the dirt cut-out, was an itch that Magrane needed to scratch constantly. Before even throwing a pitch to Gagne, he thew over to first nine consecutive times. Afterwards, Magrane admitted the obvious that he had obsessed over Gladden. “I messed around with him too much,” Magrane said. “I felt if he was going to go, it was going to be on the first pitch. I should have gone after the hitter a lot more. But I just messed around with him too much.” A batter later, Gladden eventually did swipe that base but was stranded there when Puckett grounded out to second. It would be in his next at bat, with the bases loaded and Magrane out of the game, that Gladden would break the game wide open. Gladden was rejuvenated during the Detroit series after the second half of the year saw his production drop off a cliff. After hitting .283/.337/.405 in the first half, he went .195/.273/.290 the rest of the way after the break. In the ALCS Gladden went 7-for-20 (.350), scored five and drove in another five. He did miss out on the opportunity to add to his RBI total when he failed to convert during a bases loaded appearance in Game 4: With the bags filled and two outs in the second inning, the Tigers’ Frank Tanana threw Gladden three straight breaking balls and ended the threat without the ball being put into play. In the bottom of the fourth inning of Game 1 of the World Series, with Hrbek, Lombardozzi and Laudner occupying the bases, Gladden was given a second chance to do some damage. With his golden hair escaping out of the back of his navy helmet by several inches, Gladden assumed his standard closed stance at the plate -- his front foot almost touching the plate-side batter’s box chalk and his back foot splayed out behind him -- and teased his bat several times in Cardinals' reliever Bob Forsch’s direction. Forsch started Gladden off with a fastball up and away for ball one. On the 1-0 count, the pent-up party atmosphere of the Dome’s left field bleachers released a beach ball onto the field, causing a break in the action while Willie McGee grabbed and tossed the ball over the plastic wall in center. “What’s a ballgame without a beach ball these days,” Michaels inquired to the audience during the brief delay. Dome announcer Bob Casey took that moment to remind the crowd not to throw things on the playing field. After the brief delay, Forsch tried to hit the outside corner again with a fastball but it drifted back over the plate. Gladden was behind and fouled into the first base stands. Forsch then went to the breaking ball on the outer half that Gladden spun down the first base line. Similar to the Detroit series, Gladden now had the bases loaded with two strikes. Then Forsch made a critical mistake. He went back to the curveball. Maybe it wasn’t so much that Forsch went back to the curveball but that he didn’t bury the breaking ball as much as he should have. Forsch’s curve was a looper that started at the belt and broke to the knees. Gladden was out over his front leg when he greeted the pitch and lifted it towards left field. Off the bat, it looked like a chip shot. But it carried. http://i.imgur.com/HRGSXL8.gif “High in the air to deep left field,” Michaels bellowed as Gladden’s shot drifted toward the plexiglass-guarded fans. “Coleman goes back...a grand slam!” The 55,171 people in attendance fell into hysteria. Reports later said that the decibel level reached 118. At that level, it was similar to sitting next to an ambulance siren or a jackhammer, a level of exposure that is only recommended for less than 30 seconds. The Metrodome crowd roared like that for several minutes. The first grand slam in a World Series game since 1970 put the Twins squarely ahead 7 to 1. Gladden later joked to the media that he should have put his “flap” down, the act of keeping one arm motionless while rounding the bases. “I was pretty excited running around the bases” said Gladden, a former Giant. 'I thought about putting my flap down like Jeffrey Leonard, but I thought twice about it.” Had Gladden opted for the flap-down look, it would have been a solid troll move to start the opening game of the series. The St. Louis Cardinals had seen plenty of Leonard’s “one flap down” routine during a contentious National League Championship Series. “I don’t like Jeffrey Leonard,” said Cardinals pitcher John Tudor. “It’s no secret to him or anyone else.” That feeling was shared by most of Tudor’s teammates. In Game 3, Bob Forsch dotted him with a pitch that Leonard felt was intentional. In Game 4, Leonard had already launched a home run deep to left field when later he tried to score from first on a misplayed fly ball. The relay reached home plate and the waiting Cardinals’ catcher Tony Pena in plenty of time. Rather than sliding, Leonard came in high and Pena took the opportunity to place a “tag” right in Leonard’s mug. The Twins were now firmly in the driver’s seat and the stadium was rocking off its hinges. Greg Gagne, who followed Gladden at the plate, said afterwards that the volume of the crowd was unbelievable. “After Gladden hit that grand slam, I was in the batter's box and my ears were ringing. I asked Tony (Pena) if his ears were ringing and he couldn’t even hear me.” **** As bedlam overtook in the Dome, the action outside throughout the Twin Cities was just as Twins-centric. With tickets difficult to obtain, fans waited around the Metrodome ticket offices for over an hour after the start of the game in hopes of landing an unclaimed ticket. At the Orpheum Theater, singer-songwriter Warren Zevon performed in front of 1,500 fans and provided them with continuous updates of the score for Game 1. Zevon worked Kirby Puckett’s name into one of his songs and disparaged the Cardinals in another. For an encore, he returned to the stage with a Twins jersey. Back on the mound Frank Viola remained a magician. Viola was unsolvable for the majority of the game. Having a 10-1 lead didn’t hurt either. Outside of the Puckett misplay that led to the Cardinals’ only run, he was virtually flawless. Prior to being pulled after eight innings, he retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced and did not allow a baserunner past first from the fourth inning on. Interestingly enough, if things had gone differently and the Twins were inclined to shop Viola during the lean years, he may have been in the other dugout. “I’ve always like Viola,” Whitey Herzog told the Star Tribune’s Steve Aschburner. “We’ve tried to get him for years. He’s a premier pitcher. He knows how to pitch, he changes speeds real well. He pitched an outstanding ball game.” Gladden added an RBI double in the seventh inning, cementing his spot as the game’s most valuable offensive player. His five RBI in one game topped the five he drove in through the entire ALCS series. He had gone from a roster afterthought to a celebrity in the span of two and a half hours. The crowd was delirious leaving the ballpark. Outside the Metrodome, each local TV newscast positioned a reporter on the scene and each reporter was inundated with fans chanting “we’re number one” or the Twins fight song. No doubt that the lopsided results of Game 1 had people thinking that this series would be over after the next three games. With the area’s population all clamoring to participate in the largest screamfest the state had ever seen, Kent Hrbek offered up words that every Twins fan unable to join the party thought. “I wished they had built a bigger stadium.” **** Previous installments... Tame The Tigers Dealt The Cards Click here to view the article
  8. Gladden had a dour demeanor that rubbed some people the wrong way. While with the Giants, he had exchanged blows with teammate Jeffrey Leonard during an on-field batting practice. The scuffle stemmed from Gladden’s tendency to take long batting practice sessions, fouling off balls and taking extra cuts. This practice irked Leonard and one day Leonard let Gladden know it. Gladden, not one to back down from a fight, jumped Leonard. According to Hank Greenwald, the Giants play-by-play announcer who witnessed the melee from the booth, the two went at it next to the batting cage and ended up rolling in the dirt before being separated by other teammates. Brunansky, who faced Gladden in the minors, said that he “hated” the way Gladden played the game back then. “He seemed arrogant,” the Twins right fielder said. “He didn't seem to care how he went about it.” In spite of the reputation, the Twins front office felt that the team needed some of that hard scrabble attitude. Unsatisfied with the performance of veteran Mickey Hatcher, McPhail looked elsewhere for help and targeted Gladden, but the transaction took forever to complete. "Every time I talked to (Giants general manager) Al Rosen, he asked for either Jeff Bumgarner or Steve Gasser,” McPhail told the Star Tribune’s Sid Hartman. “I wasn’t going to give either one up.” “We talked about the deal at least once every week until we made it. Atlanta and the Dodgers were very interested in Gladden. The Giants had made a deal with the Reds for Eddie Milner, and they had an abundance of outfielders. Rosen was reluctant to trade him to a team in the National League. He didn’t want Gladden to come back and hurt him.” McPhail said that the trade discussions started early in the offseason during the winter meetings, but the back and forth prolonged the deal until well into spring training. “Rosen finally called one day late in March and said he was going to deal Gladden that day. He said he was willing to make the trade for three of our young pitching prospects. He gave me a list of five, I took two out, and we made the trade.” With Gladden acquired, the Twins cut Hatcher on March 31. It was a shock to the fan base. Hatcher, who had played with the Twins for the last six years with a .284 average but inconsistent playing time, saw the writing on the wall as spring training played out and manager Tom Kelly used him less frequently in the exhibition games. “After two weeks of being here I knew it was over for me,” Hatcher told reporters. “When you’re only playing once every four days, you get the idea. It was obvious they wanted to look at the younger players.” McPhail said he wanted speed. Gladden, who had nabbed 94 bases in 138 attempts with the Giants and was capable of playing center field, would provide that dimension. Additionally, he was tabbed to assume the leadoff hitter role in place of Puckett, who had a breakout power year in 1986, allowing him to hit in the middle of the order where he was better suited and where Tom Kelly wanted him to bat. (Once he assumed the interim manager title the previous September, Kelly shifted Puckett out of the leadoff and into the third spot.) Kelly, however, wasn’t sure what to do with Gladden initially. In the season’s first game Gladden led off but was the designated hitter. It wasn’t until five games later that he got his first start in the outfield, only it was in right field. Kelly preferred Randy Bush and Mark Davidson while spot starting Gladden on occasion. It was not until mid-May that Gladden solidified his role as the team’s starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. Almost immediately, Twins players took notice of Gladden’s attitude. “We didn’t know much about him but we found out soon,” said left-handed reliever Dan Schatzeder. “In one of the first games he played for us, he got into a jawing match with an umpire. He was asserting himself right away. We thought, ‘This guy’s going to be interesting.’” Interesting is right. It would be another eight months before his infamous fight with Lombardozzi, but Gladden was about to provide a very memorable punch against the Cardinals. **** In his second at-bat of Game 1, Gladden grounded into a fielder’s choice, erasing Tim Laudner at second. The at-bat was a microcosm of who Gladden was as a leadoff hitter. Magrane struggled with his command, walking three of the last four hitters he faced. Common baseball sense would be to exert patience and make the rookie pitcher sweat through his polyester. However, rather than making Magrane squirm, Gladden took a cut at the the first pitch -- a big curve, no less -- and bounced the ball harmlessly to Lawless at third who fired to Herr at second to retire Laudner. That was the frustrating part of Gladden as a leadoff hitter. Of course, even though Gladden ignored standard practice like making a pitcher throw a glutton of pitches, on the bases he was able to set up camp right in the pitcher's mind. In spite of eliminating the lead runner, Gladden, now at first base, became all-consuming to the Cardinals’ rookie lefty who struggle to hold runners. Magrane paid extra attention (and then some) to the irritating long-haired runner who had taken 25 bases on 34 attempts during the regular season. What's more, Gladden was 18 for 21 in attempts in the Metrodome that year. And Magrane was terrible when it came to slowing down the run game -- runners had swiped 18 bases on 21 tries. His big body and lack of a slide step gave runners ample time to trot to the next base. Gladden, with one foot on the turf and one foot in the dirt cut-out, was an itch that Magrane needed to scratch constantly. Before even throwing a pitch to Gagne, he thew over to first nine consecutive times. Afterwards, Magrane admitted the obvious that he had obsessed over Gladden. “I messed around with him too much,” Magrane said. “I felt if he was going to go, it was going to be on the first pitch. I should have gone after the hitter a lot more. But I just messed around with him too much.” A batter later, Gladden eventually did swipe that base but was stranded there when Puckett grounded out to second. It would be in his next at bat, with the bases loaded and Magrane out of the game, that Gladden would break the game wide open. Gladden was rejuvenated during the Detroit series after the second half of the year saw his production drop off a cliff. After hitting .283/.337/.405 in the first half, he went .195/.273/.290 the rest of the way after the break. In the ALCS Gladden went 7-for-20 (.350), scored five and drove in another five. He did miss out on the opportunity to add to his RBI total when he failed to convert during a bases loaded appearance in Game 4: With the bags filled and two outs in the second inning, the Tigers’ Frank Tanana threw Gladden three straight breaking balls and ended the threat without the ball being put into play. In the bottom of the fourth inning of Game 1 of the World Series, with Hrbek, Lombardozzi and Laudner occupying the bases, Gladden was given a second chance to do some damage. With his golden hair escaping out of the back of his navy helmet by several inches, Gladden assumed his standard closed stance at the plate -- his front foot almost touching the plate-side batter’s box chalk and his back foot splayed out behind him -- and teased his bat several times in Cardinals' reliever Bob Forsch’s direction. Forsch started Gladden off with a fastball up and away for ball one. On the 1-0 count, the pent-up party atmosphere of the Dome’s left field bleachers released a beach ball onto the field, causing a break in the action while Willie McGee grabbed and tossed the ball over the plastic wall in center. “What’s a ballgame without a beach ball these days,” Michaels inquired to the audience during the brief delay. Dome announcer Bob Casey took that moment to remind the crowd not to throw things on the playing field. After the brief delay, Forsch tried to hit the outside corner again with a fastball but it drifted back over the plate. Gladden was behind and fouled into the first base stands. Forsch then went to the breaking ball on the outer half that Gladden spun down the first base line. Similar to the Detroit series, Gladden now had the bases loaded with two strikes. Then Forsch made a critical mistake. He went back to the curveball. Maybe it wasn’t so much that Forsch went back to the curveball but that he didn’t bury the breaking ball as much as he should have. Forsch’s curve was a looper that started at the belt and broke to the knees. Gladden was out over his front leg when he greeted the pitch and lifted it towards left field. Off the bat, it looked like a chip shot. But it carried. http://i.imgur.com/HRGSXL8.gif “High in the air to deep left field,” Michaels bellowed as Gladden’s shot drifted toward the plexiglass-guarded fans. “Coleman goes back...a grand slam!” The 55,171 people in attendance fell into hysteria. Reports later said that the decibel level reached 118. At that level, it was similar to sitting next to an ambulance siren or a jackhammer, a level of exposure that is only recommended for less than 30 seconds. The Metrodome crowd roared like that for several minutes. The first grand slam in a World Series game since 1970 put the Twins squarely ahead 7 to 1. Gladden later joked to the media that he should have put his “flap” down, the act of keeping one arm motionless while rounding the bases. “I was pretty excited running around the bases” said Gladden, a former Giant. 'I thought about putting my flap down like Jeffrey Leonard, but I thought twice about it.” Had Gladden opted for the flap-down look, it would have been a solid troll move to start the opening game of the series. The St. Louis Cardinals had seen plenty of Leonard’s “one flap down” routine during a contentious National League Championship Series. “I don’t like Jeffrey Leonard,” said Cardinals pitcher John Tudor. “It’s no secret to him or anyone else.” That feeling was shared by most of Tudor’s teammates. In Game 3, Bob Forsch dotted him with a pitch that Leonard felt was intentional. In Game 4, Leonard had already launched a home run deep to left field when later he tried to score from first on a misplayed fly ball. The relay reached home plate and the waiting Cardinals’ catcher Tony Pena in plenty of time. Rather than sliding, Leonard came in high and Pena took the opportunity to place a “tag” right in Leonard’s mug. The Twins were now firmly in the driver’s seat and the stadium was rocking off its hinges. Greg Gagne, who followed Gladden at the plate, said afterwards that the volume of the crowd was unbelievable. “After Gladden hit that grand slam, I was in the batter's box and my ears were ringing. I asked Tony (Pena) if his ears were ringing and he couldn’t even hear me.” **** As bedlam overtook in the Dome, the action outside throughout the Twin Cities was just as Twins-centric. With tickets difficult to obtain, fans waited around the Metrodome ticket offices for over an hour after the start of the game in hopes of landing an unclaimed ticket. At the Orpheum Theater, singer-songwriter Warren Zevon performed in front of 1,500 fans and provided them with continuous updates of the score for Game 1. Zevon worked Kirby Puckett’s name into one of his songs and disparaged the Cardinals in another. For an encore, he returned to the stage with a Twins jersey. Back on the mound Frank Viola remained a magician. Viola was unsolvable for the majority of the game. Having a 10-1 lead didn’t hurt either. Outside of the Puckett misplay that led to the Cardinals’ only run, he was virtually flawless. Prior to being pulled after eight innings, he retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced and did not allow a baserunner past first from the fourth inning on. Interestingly enough, if things had gone differently and the Twins were inclined to shop Viola during the lean years, he may have been in the other dugout. “I’ve always like Viola,” Whitey Herzog told the Star Tribune’s Steve Aschburner. “We’ve tried to get him for years. He’s a premier pitcher. He knows how to pitch, he changes speeds real well. He pitched an outstanding ball game.” Gladden added an RBI double in the seventh inning, cementing his spot as the game’s most valuable offensive player. His five RBI in one game topped the five he drove in through the entire ALCS series. He had gone from a roster afterthought to a celebrity in the span of two and a half hours. The crowd was delirious leaving the ballpark. Outside the Metrodome, each local TV newscast positioned a reporter on the scene and each reporter was inundated with fans chanting “we’re number one” or the Twins fight song. No doubt that the lopsided results of Game 1 had people thinking that this series would be over after the next three games. With the area’s population all clamoring to participate in the largest screamfest the state had ever seen, Kent Hrbek offered up words that every Twins fan unable to join the party thought. “I wished they had built a bigger stadium.” **** Previous installments... Tame The Tigers Dealt The Cards
  9. A new NFL champion will be crowned in at US Bank Stadium later this evening, which will set off a massive celebration in the new champ’s home city. Parties, parades, more merchandise than you can imagine and, of course, commemorative souvenir special sections in their newspapers. Let’s take a quick look back at the Star Tribune’s special sections from the 1987 and 1991 World Series for old times’ sake.Game 7 of the 1987 World Series was Sunday, Oct. 25, and the special section was published that following Thursday. The cover was a giant picture from the parade with this box of text with the headline “Minnesota Magic.” Download attachment: 87FrontText.jpg That may be a little difficult to read, so I typed it up below. I get goosebumps every time I read it. “America, you gotta believe.” The banner hanging in the Metrodome outfield in Game 7 shouted the conviction of a baseball team and its fans. It’s finally Minnesota's turn to be No. 1. World Champions. They were a team of strugglers, overachievers, regular guys — long on heart, short on superstars. That was the best part because it was so Minnesota. A team considered so unlikely to win it all that Las Vegas took 150-1 odds against the Twins. It seemed magical. The Twins were unbeatable in the Dome, where fans created the ultimate home-field advantage. Commissioner Peter Ueberroth watched the World Series and declared, “These are the best baseball fans I have ever seen.” The Minnesota Twins made sports history this October. You helped make it happen. Now remember. This photo of Kent Hrbek losing his mind — arms up in celebration, dogpile already starting to form — is a classic. Download attachment: 87Hrbek.jpg You can’t talk about a Twins title without mentioning the Homer Hanky. Here’s a great ad from the paper: Download attachment: 87AdHanky.jpg Along with all the ring, special news coverage, merchandising and all that stuff, winning a title gives you the opportunity to do all sorts of other silly stuff, like make music videos. Here’s an ad for the Berenguer Boogie: Download attachment: 87AdBerenguer.jpg What was the Berenguer Boogie? Thankfully someone has uploaded it to YouTube, because words can’t do it justice: Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was on Sunday Oct. 27 and, again, the special section was released the following Thursday, which was Halloween. Hmmm, Halloween 1991 … why does that day seem to stick out for some reason? … Download attachment: 91Cover.jpg It was a series to savor, indeed. A variation of this iconic photo of Dan Gladden and an upended Greg Olsen made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Dazzle was tagged out on the play, which came in Game 1 of the series, but the Twins had already built a four-run lead by then. Download attachment: 91Dazzle.jpg Here’s another just incredible shot: The Catch. Download attachment: 91TheCatch.jpg Kirby looks like he must’ve found a trampoline hidden on the warning track to catapult himself that high off the ground. Twins fans looked on with bated breath, but we know Kirby wasn’t going to let the Twins lose that night. His walkoff homer later that evening went to nearly the same spot. Of course, Puckett’s blast cleared the 13-foot tall plexiglass wall and Jack Buck delivered one of the most famous home run calls of all time. Don't worry, we'll get to Jack Morris and Game 7 a little later today. Let’s get some good vibes flowing. What are some of your favorite memories from the Twins’ World Series championships? The Twin Cities are buzzing with the Super Bowl in town, but what was the aftermath of those championship seasons like? Click here to view the article
  10. Game 7 of the 1987 World Series was Sunday, Oct. 25, and the special section was published that following Thursday. The cover was a giant picture from the parade with this box of text with the headline “Minnesota Magic.” That may be a little difficult to read, so I typed it up below. I get goosebumps every time I read it. “America, you gotta believe.” The banner hanging in the Metrodome outfield in Game 7 shouted the conviction of a baseball team and its fans. It’s finally Minnesota's turn to be No. 1. World Champions. They were a team of strugglers, overachievers, regular guys — long on heart, short on superstars. That was the best part because it was so Minnesota. A team considered so unlikely to win it all that Las Vegas took 150-1 odds against the Twins. It seemed magical. The Twins were unbeatable in the Dome, where fans created the ultimate home-field advantage. Commissioner Peter Ueberroth watched the World Series and declared, “These are the best baseball fans I have ever seen.” The Minnesota Twins made sports history this October. You helped make it happen. Now remember.This photo of Kent Hrbek losing his mind — arms up in celebration, dogpile already starting to form — is a classic. You can’t talk about a Twins title without mentioning the Homer Hanky. Here’s a great ad from the paper: Along with all the ring, special news coverage, merchandising and all that stuff, winning a title gives you the opportunity to do all sorts of other silly stuff, like make music videos. Here’s an ad for the Berenguer Boogie: What was the Berenguer Boogie? Thankfully someone has uploaded it to YouTube, because words can’t do it justice: Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was on Sunday Oct. 27 and, again, the special section was released the following Thursday, which was Halloween. Hmmm, Halloween 1991 … why does that day seem to stick out for some reason? … It was a series to savor, indeed. A variation of this iconic photo of Dan Gladden and an upended Greg Olsen made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Dazzle was tagged out on the play, which came in Game 1 of the series, but the Twins had already built a four-run lead by then. Here’s another just incredible shot: The Catch. Kirby looks like he must’ve found a trampoline hidden on the warning track to catapult himself that high off the ground. Twins fans looked on with bated breath, but we know Kirby wasn’t going to let the Twins lose that night. His walkoff homer later that evening went to nearly the same spot. Of course, Puckett’s blast cleared the 13-foot tall plexiglass wall and Jack Buck delivered one of the most famous home run calls of all time. Don't worry, we'll get to Jack Morris and Game 7 a little later today. Let’s get some good vibes flowing. What are some of your favorite memories from the Twins’ World Series championships? The Twin Cities are buzzing with the Super Bowl in town, but what was the aftermath of those championship seasons like?
  11. Jason Castro being the Twins’ biggest offseason addition last year sparked a lot of great discussion locally about catcher framing. But watching him in games, it was difficult to identify how he was working his magic behind the plate. And that’s exactly the point.As I noted in an article earlier this week, Twins rookie reliever Trevor Hildenberger had high praise for the help Castro provided him behind the plate. Dan Gladden, who was one of the interviewers, admitted that he initially questioned the value of framing, but that quickly changed after Castro’s arrival. “I’m not kidding you, after about two months of watching him, yes, I can see it,” Gladden said. That interview is available as a podcast at WCCO. How about we take a closer look at the man in action? Below is some video I slowed down, zoomed in and froze at around the moment Castro caught the ball. Many of these aren’t stolen strikes, they’re just good pitches, but what I’d like to convey here just how little Castro is actually doing. Look at how quiet Castro’s body is. Notice how in a lot of these he gets himself into such a tiny crouch that he’s nearly into the fetal position. Even just look at how and where he sets up before the pitch. Most of what he’s doing is simply making sure the umpire gets a good, clean look at the ball. Even when he calls for a ball up in the zone, Castro makes an effort to not get in his own way. You’ll notice he typically catches the ball with his hand about neck level at the highest. At around the 1:10 mark, he catches the pitch basically right in front of his face. If he had gotten up even taller instead, that may have blocked the umpires window ever so slightly. When there is extra movement, it’s usually productive. On the video of Bartolo Colon included (around the 1:41 mark), you see Castro make an ever so subtle lean back toward the batter, the same direction the pitch is breaking, to further enhance the appearance that the ball had spun back into the zone. There were numerous excellent articles written about Castro and framing, but one of the ones I learned the most from was this piece by Mike Berardino from late May. Here’s an excerpt of Taylor Rogers explaining how the little things make a big difference: “When Kintzler is throwing and Castro sets up outside to a righty, he angles himself back into the plate,” Rogers said. “Not a lot, but just enough. I think that frees him up to bring that two-seamer back. It’s a good visual for the umpire.” Meaning? “That way he’s catching it square on his body,” Rogers said. “It might not be on the plate, but to the umpire it looks like he caught it right on his chest.” Old-school fans like to mock pitch-framing, but to the guys that throw baseballs for a living, it’s a very real thing. “Over time and throughout a game, the impact that has is huge,” Rogers said. “It’s one of those things that go unseen that are big, and I like that kind of stuff. It just allows you to have comfort and confidence out there that he can steal one every now and then.” Per Baseball Prospectus, Castro ranked 32nd among the 110 catchers in Called Strikes Above Average last season. A lot of the statistical side of framing has more to do with the guy in front of and the guy behind the catcher than it does the receiver himself. Pitchers have to at least come close to hitting their spots and the umpires have to fall for the presentation. But either way, it’s great to see Castro still post an above-average mark in that metric. There are a couple things I’d like to point out before we finish up. First, all the pitches included in the video compilation were called third strikes. I’d imagine a lot of Castro’s best work is not included in that sample, but those are the easiest pitches to find highlights for. And second, in digging through stuff I found a number of really great frame jobs by Chris Gimenez. I’d imagine every catcher in baseball is working very hard at framing these days. Click here to view the article
  12. As I noted in an article earlier this week, Twins rookie reliever Trevor Hildenberger had high praise for the help Castro provided him behind the plate. Dan Gladden, who was one of the interviewers, admitted that he initially questioned the value of framing, but that quickly changed after Castro’s arrival. “I’m not kidding you, after about two months of watching him, yes, I can see it,” Gladden said. That interview is available as a podcast at WCCO. How about we take a closer look at the man in action? Below is some video I slowed down, zoomed in and froze at around the moment Castro caught the ball. Many of these aren’t stolen strikes, they’re just good pitches, but what I’d like to convey here just how little Castro is actually doing. https://twitter.com/TwinsHighlights/status/956374405965385728?ref_src=twcamp%5Eshare%7Ctwsrc%5Em5%7Ctwgr%5Eemail%7Ctwcon%5E7046%7Ctwterm%5E1 Look at how quiet Castro’s body is. Notice how in a lot of these he gets himself into such a tiny crouch that he’s nearly into the fetal position. Even just look at how and where he sets up before the pitch. Most of what he’s doing is simply making sure the umpire gets a good, clean look at the ball. Even when he calls for a ball up in the zone, Castro makes an effort to not get in his own way. You’ll notice he typically catches the ball with his hand about neck level at the highest. At around the 1:10 mark, he catches the pitch basically right in front of his face. If he had gotten up even taller instead, that may have blocked the umpires window ever so slightly. When there is extra movement, it’s usually productive. On the video of Bartolo Colon included (around the 1:41 mark), you see Castro make an ever so subtle lean back toward the batter, the same direction the pitch is breaking, to further enhance the appearance that the ball had spun back into the zone. There were numerous excellent articles written about Castro and framing, but one of the ones I learned the most from was this piece by Mike Berardino from late May. Here’s an excerpt of Taylor Rogers explaining how the little things make a big difference: “When Kintzler is throwing and Castro sets up outside to a righty, he angles himself back into the plate,” Rogers said. “Not a lot, but just enough. I think that frees him up to bring that two-seamer back. It’s a good visual for the umpire.” Meaning? “That way he’s catching it square on his body,” Rogers said. “It might not be on the plate, but to the umpire it looks like he caught it right on his chest.” Old-school fans like to mock pitch-framing, but to the guys that throw baseballs for a living, it’s a very real thing. “Over time and throughout a game, the impact that has is huge,” Rogers said. “It’s one of those things that go unseen that are big, and I like that kind of stuff. It just allows you to have comfort and confidence out there that he can steal one every now and then.” Per Baseball Prospectus, Castro ranked 32nd among the 110 catchers in Called Strikes Above Average last season. A lot of the statistical side of framing has more to do with the guy in front of and the guy behind the catcher than it does the receiver himself. Pitchers have to at least come close to hitting their spots and the umpires have to fall for the presentation. But either way, it’s great to see Castro still post an above-average mark in that metric. There are a couple things I’d like to point out before we finish up. First, all the pitches included in the video compilation were called third strikes. I’d imagine a lot of Castro’s best work is not included in that sample, but those are the easiest pitches to find highlights for. And second, in digging through stuff I found a number of really great frame jobs by Chris Gimenez. I’d imagine every catcher in baseball is working very hard at framing these days.
  13. April 2, 1962 Twins Trade Ramos For Stigman It what is commonly considered the first major trade in Twins history, Minnesota trades Pedro Ramos for Nimrod native, 1954 Sebeka High School graduate, and 1960 All-Star Dick Stigman. Pedro Ramos started the first regular season game in Twins history, pitching a complete game three-hit shutout vs. Whitey Ford at Yankee Stadium on April 11, 1961. He was involved in an interesting piece of Twins history on May 12, 1961 as he and Angels pitcher Eli Grba traded homers off of each other. Grba homered off of Ramos in the top of the fifth to give the Angels a 3-2 lead. Ramos returned the favor in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. Ramos added a two-run single in the sixth. The Twins held on to win 5-4, with the pitcher driving in the Twins’ final three runs. April 2, 2010 First MLB Game at Target Field The Twins and St. Louis Cardinals play an exhibition game at Target Field, the first major league game at the new ballpark, and Denard Span has himself a day. The center fielder collects the stadium’s first hit (a triple, of course), first home run, and first run scored. Jacque Jones, attempting a comeback with the club, pitch-hits and receives a moving standing ovation. I sure wish the Twins would make this kind of footage available. If they want to monetize it, fine, but don’t just keep in the damn vault! April 3, 1982 First MLB Game at the Dumb Metrodome The Twins and Philadelphia Philles play an exhibition game at the Metrodome, the first major league game at the new ballpark, and 1978 Bloomington Kennedy grad Kent Hrbek has himself a day. The Phillies’ Pete Rose collects the Dome’s first basehit, but the hometown kid hits the first AND second home runs in Metrodome history, powering the Twins to a 5-0 win. April 3, 1997 Old Man Grand Slam 40-year-old Twins DH Paul Molitor hits a grand slam off Detroit’s Willie Blair at home in the Dome, driving in Todd Walker, Chuck Knoblauch, and Rich Becker. It is the third and final grand slam of Molitor’s career. The second came off of Minnesota’s Dave Stevens on July 5, 1994. The first was way back on April 22, 1981. April 4, 1990 Twins Trade Pomeranz for Ortiz The Twins trade future-KARE11 anchor Mike Pomeranz to Pittsburgh for Junior Oritz and minor league pitcher Orlando Lind. Oritz, who wore number 0, is best-rememberd as Scott Erickson’s peronal catcher during the Twins’ 1991 World Series Championship season. April 5, 2004 Michael Wuertz Makes MLB Debut 1997 Austin, Minnesota High School graduate Michael Wuertz strikes out the first two batters he faces in his major league debut, pitching a 1-2-3 sixth in a 7-4 Cubs win in Cincinnati. Wuertz would pitch 426 major league games over eight seasons with the Cubs and Oakland A’s. April 5, 2014 Gardy Gets Win 1,000 Brian Dozier homers on the second pitch of the game, leading the Twins to a 7-3 victory over the Cleveland ballclub for Ron Gardenhire’s 1,000th managerial win. The milestone victory doesn’t come without a new gray hair, however, as 2001 Stillwater grad Glen Perkins gives up two runs in the bottom of the ninth before securing the Kyle Gibson win. April 6 Happy 66th Birthday to Bert Blyleven It’s the birthday of Rik Aalbert “Bert” Blyleven, born in Zeist, Holland in 1951. Blyleven grew up in Garden Grove, California and was drafted by Minnesota out of high school in the 3rd round in 1969. After only 21 minor league starts, Bert made his major league debut on June 2, 1970 at age 19. Blyleven would pitch for 22 seasons, 11 in Minnesota (‘70-’76, ‘85-’88). He is a 2x World Series Champion, winning his first in 1979 as a Pittsburgh Pirate, and his second as a member of the ‘87 Twins. Blyleven won 149 games as a Twin, 2nd only to Jim Kaat (190). He pitched three one-hitters with the Twins, two in 1973 and another in 1974. He pitched a no-hitter in his final game as a Texas Ranger, September 22, 1977. His 3,701 career strikeouts rank fifth in major league history. Only Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton had more strikeouts. Bert Blyleven was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011, his 14th year on the ballot. His number 28 is retired by the Minnesota Twins. April 6, 1973 First DH Home Run With Rod Carew aboard in the top of the first on Opening Day, Tony Oliva hits the first home run by a designated hitter in major league history off of Oakland’s Catfish Hunter. Bert Blyleven pitches the first of 25 complete games on the season in the Twins’ 8-3 victory. April 6, 1982 First Regular Season Game in the Dome The Twins opened the 1982 season vs. Seattle at home in the dumb new Dome. 1977 St. Cloud Tech graduate Jim Eisenreich had the honor of being the first Twins batter to the plate. He grounded out to short. Two batters later right fielder Dave Engle homered for the first regular season hit in Metrodome history. In his first at-bat in the dumb new Dome, Gary Gaetti was thrown at at home trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run. He put the ball over the fence in his next two at-bats, going 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored. The Twins fell to the Mariners, however, 11-7. April 7, 1970 Alyea Has Record-Setting Opening Day Outifielder Brant Alyea, who the Twins had just acquired on March 21, drives in a Twins record seven runs to back Jim Perry on Opening Day. He will go on to drive in 21 runs in the Twins’ first 12 games. Quite remarkably, 19 of those 21 RBI come in Jim Perry’s first four starts. Alyea matched his own record, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and driving in all seven Twins runs in a 7-6 win on September 7, 1970. Glenn Adams broke Alyea’s record with 8 RBI on June 26, 1977. Randy Bush matched that on May 20, 1989. Alyea’s career had gotten off to an Eddie Rosario-esque start, homering on the first big league pitch he saw as a Washington Senator on September 11, 1965. April 8, 1988 The Dazzle Man Has Himself a Day Dan Gladden goes 4-for-5 with two home runs, four RBI, and three runs scored in a 6-3 Twins win vs. Toronto at home in the Dome. Gladden homered to lead off the Twins’ half of the first, and knocked out another in the bottom of the eighth. With Kent Hrbek batting in the seventh, Gladden stole home off of David Wells. It was the first of three times that Gladden would steal home in his career. He would do so again later in the ‘88 season, and once more in 1989. He was caught trying to steal home five times in his career. Rod Carew stole home 17 times and in his caeer, and Paul Molitor did so 10 times. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter, and on Facebook.
  14. March 26, 1989 Twins Trade Atherton for Castillo The Twins trade pitcher Keith Atherton to the Cleveland ballclub for outfielder Carmelo Castillo. Atherton’s name is attached to one of the more dubious records in team history as one of the record five Twins pitchers to work the eighth inning in a 14-8 loss to Toronto at the Metrodome. Atherton made 59 relief appearances for the 1987 World Series Champion Twins. He faced two batters in Game 4 of the ‘87 ALCS, and made two appearances in the World Series, pitching a perfect top of the ninth in the Twins’ 10-1 Game 1 victory. He would make 32 relief appearances for Cleveland in 1989, his final major league season. Carmelo Castillo’s major league career fizzled out early in the Twins’ 1991 World Series Championship season, going 2-for-12 over nine games. He played his final big league game on May 9, 1991. March 27 Happy 49th Birthday to Tom Quinlan It’s the birthday of 1986 Hill-Murray graduate Tom Quinlan. Tom was a “Mr. Hockey” finalist his senior season at Hill-Murray. He was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 4th round, and Toronto Blue Jays in the 27th round out of high school. He made his major league debut on September 4, 1990, doubling in his second at-bat vs. Frank Tanana for his first big league hit. His first at-bat was cut short when current Executive Vice President of the White Sox Ken Williams was caught trying to steal second. Quinlan would strike out leading off the following inning. Quinlan hit his only big league homer while playing for the Phillies on May 29, 1994 off of 1990 NL Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. Despite winning 22 games in 1990, Drabek made his one and only All-Star team in 1994 as a member of the Astros. Quinlan appeared in only 42 games over parts of four seasons. He was briefly a Minnesota Twin in 1996, going 0-for-6 in his final four major league games. March 27 Happy 38th Birthday to Michael Cuddyer It’s the birthday of 2x All-Star, 2013 National League Batting Champion and current Twins Special Assistant Michael Cuddyer, born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1979. The Twins drafted Cuddy in the first round (9th overall) in 1997 out of high school. He made his major league debut as a September call-up in 2001. In June, 2006 he hit two grand slams in a span of four days. He hit for the cycle on May 22, 2009. And on August 23, 2009 he became the only player in Twins history to homer twice in the same inning. This past January 27 the Twins announced the Michael Cuddyer and Andy MacPhail were elected to the team Hall of Fame. March 27, 1973 Jim Perry Okays Trade to Tigers 37-year old pitcher Jim Perry okays a trade to Detroit for pitcher Danny Fife and cash money. The Twins had originally acquired Perry from the Cleveland ballclub for Jack Kralick on May 2, 1963. Kralick had pitched the first no-hitter in Twins history the previous season, on August 26, 1962. . During Perry’s first five seasons with the Twins he was used as both a starter and a reliever, including the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. In 1969 he started 36 of the 46 games he appeared in, winning 20 as the Twins won the American League West pennant. Perry won the Cy Young Award in 1970, his first season in Minnesota in which he was used exclusively as a starter, and tied for the league lead with 24 wins as the Twins again won the West. Perry played ten seasons in Minnesota. He is fifth in Twins history in both wins (128) and innings pitched. In 2011 he became the sixteenth member of the Twins Hall of Fame. March 27, 2005 Bob Casey Passes Away Iconic Twins public address announcer Bob Casey passes away at the VA in Minneapolis as a result of complications of liver cancer and pneumonia, which he had contracted while visiting Twins Spring Training earlier in the month despite his poor health. He was 79 years old. Casey was the only public address announcer in the Twins’ 44-year history up until the day of his death. Casey, who was universally liked and respected, developed relationships with many players over the course of his career, one of whom was Alex Rodriguez. When A-Rod learned of Casey’s condition from Twins broadcasters John Gordon and Dan Gladden, he called Casey in the hospital. From Mark Sheldon’s story for the team website: Casey was hoping to work part-time for a 45th season and announce his retirement in June when Rodriguez and the Yankees were scheduled to be in town. "He spoke a lot, but it was hard to understand him," Rodriguez said of the final conversation with Casey. "His son was kind of translating what he was trying to say. His son told me that Puckett and myself were his favorites, and that he wanted to go out this year in June ... (and) have me take him out there and throw out the first pitch. It was very emotional." If you ask me, the Twins should find a way to play Bob Casey’s Kirby Puckett introduction at every home game. Maybe let two or three fans do their best impersonations during the seventh inning stretch. Thoughts? March 28, 1996 Kirby Puckett Wakes Up with Vision Problem 36-year-old Twins superstar Kirby Puckett appears poised for a big year, hitting .344 in spring training, when, on the last day of camp, he wakes up unable to see out of his right eye. He is diagnosed with glaucoma and placed on the Disabled List for the first time in his career. Four surgeries do nothing to improve his vision, and he officially retires on July 12. March 29 Happy 56th Birthday to Mike Kingery It's the birthday of 1979 Atwater High School graduate Mike Kingery, born in Saint James, Minnesota in 1961. When he was six months old the Kingerys moved to Atwater where Mike’s father was proprietor of the Atwater Bowling Center. Kingery signed with the Royals as an amateur free agent on August 27, 1979. He made his major league debut on July 7, 1986 and would go on to play 819 major league games over parts of 10 seasons with Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, Colorado, and Pittsburgh. A career .268 hitter, Kingery’s best season by far was with the Rockies in 1994, when, at age 33, he hit .349 over 105. Kingery hit .290 in 24 games vs. the Minnesota Twins, including a home run off of Les Straker on July 29, 1987. That same season he hit two home runs off of 1973 Highland Park High School graduate Jack Morris. Kingery and and Blix Donnelly headlined the seven-member 2014 inaugural class of the West Central Baseball Hall of Fame in Willmar. Mrs. Johnson and I swung into the Moose Lake Dairy Queen on our way home from Duluth last summer, and I was interested to see a poster for “The Kingery Family,” a travelling singing and ministry troupe. Turns out Mike and his wife Chris are parents of EIGHT children. In addition to his minstrel work, Mike Kingery operates the Solid Foundation Baseball School in Grove City, MN. March 29, 1996 Puckett Placed on 15-Day Disabled List Quoting directly from a New York Times article from March 31, 1996: “Kirby Puckett's blurry vision is being caused by a partial blockage of a blood vessel in his right eye, and the Minnesota outfielder will miss the season opener, the Twins said Friday after placing him on the 15-day disabled list … retroactive to Thursday, making him eligible to return April 12. During that time, he will undergo treatment and will be able to work out with the club. Matt Lawton, who went 2 for 4 with a run batted in in Puckett's place Friday, will start against the Tigers tomorrow.” March 30, 1981 Twins Trade Landreaux to Los Angeles The Twins trade Ken Landreaux to the Dodgers for Mickey Hatcher and minor leaguers Mathew Reeves and Kelly Snider. The Twins had acquired Landreaux from the Angels along with three other prospects just over two years earlier for Rod Carew. Lanreaux made Twins history twice during the 1980 season. He compiled a Twins record 31-game hitting streak from April 23 to May 30. Then, on July 3, he tied the modern major league record with three triples in a 10-3 home victory vs. Texas. Denard Span matched that record on June 29, 2010. Landreaux made his lone All-Star team in 1980, despite having one of his least productive seasons according to Baseball Reference who calculates his 1980 WAR as -0.2. Mickey Hatcher also appears in the Twins record book, and just for having the largest glove anyone has ever seen. On April 28, 1985 Hatcher went 4-for-5 in a 10-1 Twins win over Oakland at the Metrodome. He had gone 5-for-5 the previous day, giving him nine consecutive hits, tying Tony Oliva’s 1967 club record. Todd Walker matched the feat in 1998. The Twins released Hatcher on March 31, 1987 to make room for Dan Gladden who they had acquired in a trade with the Giants. March 30, 2005 Bob Casey Laid to Rest The inimitable Bob Casey, who had passed away three days prior from complications of liver cancer and pneumonia, is eulogized at St. Olaf Catholic Church and laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden, Jack Morris, John Gordon, and Dave St. Peter served as pallbearers. Also in attendance were Carl Pohlad, Roy Smalley, Juan Berenguer, Tim Laudner, and Scott Leius. March 31, 1987 Twins Trade for Gladden The Twins release fan-favorite Mickey Hatcher and pick up San Francisco outfielder Dan Gladden for two minor league pitchers and a player to be named later, who would turn out to be Bemidji native and 2x Gophers Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year Bryan Hickerson. Hatcher was still owed $650,000 for 1987 and a $100,000 buyout clause for the ‘88 season. At the time it was the most expensive contract the Twins had eaten. It would prove to be a prudent business move. Gladden, of course, was a key contributor to both World Series Championship teams, coming up with clutch hits in both Series. He hit a grand slam in Game 1 of the 1987 Series, and hustled out one of the most important hits in Twins history, a broken-bat AstroTurf double leading off the bottom of the tenth in Game 7 of the ‘91 Series. Chuck Knoblauch then executed one of the most underrated plays in Twins history, a textbook sacrifice bunt to move Gladden to third with one out. Atlanta then intentionally walked Kirby and Hrbie to set up a potential inning-ending double play. Pinch-hitter Gene Larkin foiled that strategy, however, elevating the first pitch he saw to left-center giving the Twins a 1-0 walk-off victory. The Gladden trade was the third significant move of the ‘87 off season. Back in February the Twins had acquired Jeff Reardon and Al Newman in separate tradres with Montral. The Twins would make several more significant moves during the season, including trades for Joe Niekro and Don Baylor. Dan Gladden signed with Detroit as a free agent following the ‘91 World Series. March 31, 2010 Span Hits His Mother Leading off a Spring Training game vs. the Yankees in his hometown of Tampa, Denard Span fouls Phil Hughes’s 3-2 pitch over the third base dugout striking his own mother square in the chest. It was a scary moment at the ballpark but she was not seriously hurt. March 31, 2014 Mounds View’s Seth Rosin Makes MLB Debut With his Rangers trailing the Phillies 14-10 on Opening Day, 2007 Mound View graduate and three-year Golden Gopher Seth Rosin makes his major league debut, pitching a scoreless ninth, striking out 2006 National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Howard on three pitches for his first Big League K. Rosin signed a minor league deal with the Twins on February 23, 2017. April 1, 2002 Twins Hit 5 HRs on Opening Day The Twins tie an American League record by clubbing five home runs on Opening Day in Kansas City. Jacque Jones hit a solo and three-run home run, while David Ortiz, Brian Buchanan, and Torii Hunter each hit solo shots in the 8-6 Twins win. The Twins are the most recent of five American League teams to hit five home runs on Opening Day. The previous four were the Yankees in 1932, Red Sox in 1965, Brewers in 1980, and the Cleveland ballclub in 1995. The Mets set the major league record with six Opening Day home runs in 1988. April 1, 2007 Herb Carneal Passes Away Legendary Twins radio broadcaster Herb Carneal passes away at the age of 83. Carneal spent 44 years with the Twins, joining Ray Scott and Halsey Hall in 1962, the Twins’ second season in Minnesota. Carneal received the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award in 1996. He and Jim Kaat comprised the sophomore class of the Twins Hall of Fame, inducted on July 7, 2001. On a personal note, when I was in elementary school I won a drawing at Hardee’s (true story) and got to spend an inning in the booth with Herb Carneal and John Gordon. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter, and on Facebook.
  15. Several members of the 1987 Minnesota Twins World Series championship team were on the 1500ESPN stage for a half-hour with Patrick Reusse on Friday night. Following the on-air portion, the players stayed on the stage along with their manager, Tom Kelly. Twins President Dave St. Peter came to the stage and announced to the crowd that the Twins would be adding an eighth bronze statue to their collection surrounding Target Field. Work has begun on a bronze statue of Twins manager Tom Kelly. “The Minnesota Twins are excited to have this opportunity to further celebrate and recognize the incredible career of the one-and-only Tom Kelly,” Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter said. “Tom’s contributions to the Twins organization and Upper Midwest baseball community are quite significant. This statue will help memorialize Tom’s greatness and ensure future generations are aware of the T.K. story.”Kelly told reporters following the announcement that he has known for a couple of weeks. They are currently working on the pose, spending a lot of time on which uniform he'll be in. There was no timeline given for completion. Kelly joins several legendary Twins figures to be honored with a bronze statue including Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Kent Hrbek, Calvin Griffith and the Pohlads (Carl and Eloise). Five years ago, Kelly's #10 was retired by the organization. As per usual, Kelly remained humble in talking about the honor, noting even his hesitance to promote it happening in previous years. He prefers to point out that the game is about the players on the field not their manager. And likely, that is why he was as successful as a manager and leader as he was. Here is a live twitter feed of the announcement as well as some of the conversation with Kelly afterward. Click here to view the article
  16. Kelly told reporters following the announcement that he has known for a couple of weeks. They are currently working on the pose, spending a lot of time on which uniform he'll be in. There was no timeline given for completion. Kelly joins several legendary Twins figures to be honored with a bronze statue including Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Kent Hrbek, Calvin Griffith and the Pohlads (Carl and Eloise). Five years ago, Kelly's #10 was retired by the organization. As per usual, Kelly remained humble in talking about the honor, noting even his hesitance to promote it happening in previous years. He prefers to point out that the game is about the players on the field not their manager. And likely, that is why he was as successful as a manager and leader as he was. Here is a live twitter feed of the announcement as well as some of the conversation with Kelly afterward.
  17. May 7, 1965 Twins Commit Seven Errors The Twins committed 7 errors in a 13-5 loss to the White Sox at home. Shortstop Zoilo Versalles and third baseman Rich Rollins each committed two errors, while Harmon Killebrew, Earl Battey and St. Paul-native, Jerry Kindall, added one each. Every infielder plus the catcher committed an error. Despite the 7 errors, Twins pitching still gave up 10 earned runs. Nimrod, MN-native, Dick Stigman, started the game for the Twins and lasted just 3 ⅔ innings, allowing 4 runs (all earned) on 5 hits. May 7, 1978 Roy Smalley Walks Team-Record 5 Times Roy Smalley set a team single game record when he walked 5 times in a 15-9 Twins win in Baltimore. Smalley also hit a double in his sixth at-bat, driving in left fielder, Willie Norwood. Smalley walked in each of the first three innings, the first two vs. 1990 Hall of Fame inductee, Jim Palmer, who only lasted 1 ⅔ innings, allowing 6 runs on 3 hits and 5 walks. Willie Norwood stole second during each of Smalley’s first three at-bats, which eventually ended in walks anyway. The Twins scored 9 of their 15 runs in the first three innings. Starting for the Twins was Alexandria (MN) High School alumnus, Gary Serum, who only lasted 4 ⅓ innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits, but did not walk a batter. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160430_104832_zpsefqvhtjl.jpg May 7, 1989 Dan Gladden Makes Second Pitching Appearance Dan Gladden made his second big league pitching appearance in a 12-1 loss in Cleveland. Gladden allowed only 1 run on 2 hits and a walk. Not bad considering that Cleveland had scored 11 runs over seven innings against Minnesota’s full-time professional pitchers. May 7, 2000 Tom Kelly Wins 1,000th Game Tom Kelly became the 46th manager in Major League history to win 1,000 games as Minnesota beat Detroit 4-0 at the Metrodome. Joe Mays, who entered the game with an 0-4 record, pitched a complete game, 5-hit shutout for the Twins. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160430_103740_zpsnc7c6kkk.jpg May 7, 2008 Carlos Gomez Hits for the Cycle Leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez hit for the “natural cycle” in reverse in a 13-1 Twins win versus the White Sox in Chicago. Gomez led off the game with a home run, and then hit a triple, double and single, in that order. Gomez had 3 RBI, 2 runs scored and also struck out twice. Nick Punto hit the first of his two home runs of the season. Livan Hernandez pitched the complete game for the Twins, improving to 5-1 Keep in touch by like the Twins Almanac on Facebook, and by following @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.
  18. One of the appeals of Gladden was his game-changing speed. One newspaper headline the morning after the deal read “Popularity Sacrificed for Steals,” a motivation confirmed by Twins executive vice president, Andy MacPhail, who said that “the reason we got him is he gives us speed. He can steal bases, he’s a good turf player.” Hatcher, who had been with the Twins since 1981 and had peaked in ‘84, was a pretty one dimensional player. Though he possessed a career .281 average, he offered very little of the speed and versatility that the Twins sought with the addition of Gladden. “He just didn’t fit in,” manager Tom Kelly said of Hatcher. “There’s no place for him to play on this team. We have better athletes. We didn’t need him as a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, either.” It was a bold decision for the Twins to pull the trigger on the Gladden-for-Hatcher switch. Hatcher was owed $650,000 for the ‘87 season, and a $100,000 buyout for ‘88. It was the most expensive contract that the Twins would eat to that point in team history. The decision would, obviously, pay dividends. Though Gladden wasn’t as good in ‘87 as he had been in ‘86 — or would be in ‘88, for that matter — he was a key component in the Twins winning their first World Series in franchise history. And the trademark grit and hustle he displayed on a broken bat Astroturf double in the bottom of the 10th of Game 7 put the Twins solidly in position to win the 1991 World Series. “Tonight,” Jack Buck said of that Game 7, “it’s so apparent that this is one of the most remarkable baseball games ever played.” After being released by Minnesota Mickey Hatcher returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he had played the first two seasons of his career. After playing sparingly in the 1988 regular season, he replaced the injured Kirk Gibson in the World Series, batting .368 with 2 HRs and 5 RBI as the Dodgers upset the heavily favored Oakland A’s in five games. Hatcher retired after the 1990 season. He began coaching in 1993 with the Rangers, and served as Angels hitting coach from 2000 to 2012 under Dodger teammate, Mike Scioscia. The Angels won the World Series in 2002. Bryan Hickerson, the final piece in the Gladden trade, graduated from Bemidji High School in 1982. He went on to the University of Minnesota, where he won the Gophers’ “Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year” award in ‘85 and ‘86. The Twins selected Hickerson in the 7th round of the June ‘86 amateur draft. He made his major league debut for the San Francisco Giants on July 25th, 1991, entering the game in the top of the 9th with the Giants leading the Mets 8-1. Hickerson struck out the first two big league batters he faced, Kevin McReynolds and Howard Johnson, and induced a groundout from pinch-hitter, Vince Coleman. He pitched primarily in relief, but did start 29 games for the Giants between ‘93 and ‘94. After being released by the Giants, Hickerson pitched for the Cubs and Rockies in 1995 before retiring with a career 21-21 record and 4.72 ERA in 209 Major League games. For stories about the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, like Major Minnesotans on Facebook and follow @MajorMinnesota on Twitter. For the history of Minnesota Twins baseball, told one day at a time, follow @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.
  19. Article below is by Matt Johnson A week before the start of their 1987 championship season, the Twins released fan-favorite, Mickey Hatcher, and traded for the much more dynamic, Dan Gladden. In exchange for the Dazzle Man and a player to be named later, the Twins sent two minor league relievers and a player to be named to the San Francisco Giants. The player to be named that Minnesota would send to San Francisco wound up being Bemidji-native, former Golden Gopher pitcher and Twins ‘86 draft pick, Bryan Hickerson.One of the appeals of Gladden was his game-changing speed. One newspaper headline the morning after the deal read “Popularity Sacrificed for Steals,” a motivation confirmed by Twins executive vice president, Andy MacPhail, who said that “the reason we got him is he gives us speed. He can steal bases, he’s a good turf player.” Hatcher, who had been with the Twins since 1981 and had peaked in ‘84, was a pretty one dimensional player. Though he possessed a career .281 average, he offered very little of the speed and versatility that the Twins sought with the addition of Gladden. “He just didn’t fit in,” manager Tom Kelly said of Hatcher. “There’s no place for him to play on this team. We have better athletes. We didn’t need him as a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, either.” It was a bold decision for the Twins to pull the trigger on the Gladden-for-Hatcher switch. Hatcher was owed $650,000 for the ‘87 season, and a $100,000 buyout for ‘88. It was the most expensive contract that the Twins would eat to that point in team history. The decision would, obviously, pay dividends. Though Gladden wasn’t as good in ‘87 as he had been in ‘86 — or would be in ‘88, for that matter — he was a key component in the Twins winning their first World Series in franchise history. And the trademark grit and hustle he displayed on a broken bat Astroturf double in the bottom of the 10th of Game 7 put the Twins solidly in position to win the 1991 World Series. “Tonight,” Jack Buck said of that Game 7, “it’s so apparent that this is one of the most remarkable baseball games ever played.” After being released by Minnesota Mickey Hatcher returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he had played the first two seasons of his career. After playing sparingly in the 1988 regular season, he replaced the injured Kirk Gibson in the World Series, batting .368 with 2 HRs and 5 RBI as the Dodgers upset the heavily favored Oakland A’s in five games. Hatcher retired after the 1990 season. He began coaching in 1993 with the Rangers, and served as Angels hitting coach from 2000 to 2012 under Dodger teammate, Mike Scioscia. The Angels won the World Series in 2002. Bryan Hickerson, the final piece in the Gladden trade, graduated from Bemidji High School in 1982. He went on to the University of Minnesota, where he won the Gophers’ “Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year” award in ‘85 and ‘86. The Twins selected Hickerson in the 7th round of the June ‘86 amateur draft. He made his major league debut for the San Francisco Giants on July 25th, 1991, entering the game in the top of the 9th with the Giants leading the Mets 8-1. Hickerson struck out the first two big league batters he faced, Kevin McReynolds and Howard Johnson, and induced a groundout from pinch-hitter, Vince Coleman. He pitched primarily in relief, but did start 29 games for the Giants between ‘93 and ‘94. After being released by the Giants, Hickerson pitched for the Cubs and Rockies in 1995 before retiring with a career 21-21 record and 4.72 ERA in 209 Major League games. For stories about the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, like Major Minnesotans on Facebook and follow @MajorMinnesota on Twitter. For the history of Minnesota Twins baseball, told one day at a time, follow @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter. Click here to view the article
  20. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160131_102737_zps4yadfqeb.jpg A week before the start of their 1987 championship season, the Twins released fan-favorite, Mickey Hatcher, and traded for the much more dynamic, Dan Gladden. In exchange for the Dazzle Man and a player to be named later, the Twins sent two minor league relievers and a player to be named to the San Francisco Giants. The player to be named that Minnesota would send to San Francisco wound up being Bemidji-native, former Golden Gopher pitcher and Twins ‘86 draft pick, Bryan Hickerson. One of the appeals of Gladden was his game-changing speed. One newspaper headline the morning after the deal read “Popularity Sacrificed for Steals,” a motivation confirmed by Twins executive vice president, Andy MacPhail, who said that “the reason we got him is he gives us speed. He can steal bases, he’s a good turf player.” Hatcher, who had been with the Twins since 1981 and had peaked in ‘84, was a pretty one dimensional player. Though he possessed a career .281 average, he offered very little of the speed and versatility that the Twins sought with the addition of Gladden. “He just didn’t fit in,” manager Tom Kelly said of Hatcher. “There’s no place for him to play on this team. We have better athletes. We didn’t need him as a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, either.” It was a bold decision for the Twins to pull the trigger on the Gladden-for-Hatcher switch. Hatcher was owed $650,000 for the ‘87 season, and a $100,000 buyout for ‘88. It was the most expensive contract that the Twins would eat to that point in team history. The decision would, obviously, pay dividends. Though Gladden wasn’t as good in ‘87 as he had been in ‘86 — or would be in ‘88, for that matter — he was a key component in the Twins winning their first World Series in franchise history. And the trademark grit and hustle he displayed on a broken bat Astroturf double in the bottom of the 10th of Game 7 put the Twins solidly in position to win the 1991 World Series. “Tonight,” Jack Buck said of that Game 7, “it’s so apparent that this is one of the most remarkable baseball games ever played.” After being released by Minnesota, Mickey Hatcher returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he had played the first two seasons of his career. After playing sparingly in the 1988 regular season, he replaced the injured Kirk Gibson in the World Series, batting .368 with 2 HRs and 5 RBI as the Dodgers upset the heavily favored Oakland A’s in five games. Hatcher retired after the 1990 season. He began coaching in 1993 with the Rangers, and served as Angels hitting coach from 2000 to 2012 under Dodger teammate, Mike Scioscia. The Angels won the World Series in 2002. Bryan Hickerson, the final piece in the Gladden trade, graduated from Bemidji High School in 1982. He went on to the University of Minnesota, where he won the Gophers’ “Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year” award in ‘85 and ‘86. The Twins selected Hickerson in the 7th round of the June ‘86 amateur draft. He made his Major League debut for the San Francisco Giants on July 25th, 1991, entering the game in the top of the 9th with the Giants leading the Mets 8-1. Hickerson struck out the first two big league batters he faced, Kevin McReynolds and Howard Johnson, and induced a groundout from pinch-hitter, Vince Coleman. He pitched primarily in relief, but did start 29 games for the Giants between ‘93 and ‘94. After being released by the Giants, Hickerson pitched for the Cubs and Rockies in 1995 before retiring with a career 21-21 record and 4.72 ERA in 209 Major League games. For stories about the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, like Major Minnesotans on Facebook and follow @MajorMinnesota on Twitter. For the history of Minnesota Twins baseball, told one day at a time, follow @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.
  21. 3/27/73: 37 year old future Twins HOFer, Jim Perry, okays trade to Detroit. 3/27/05: Iconic Twins public address announcer of 44 years, Bob Casey, passes away at age 79. Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden and Jack Morris would serve as pallbearers at his funeral. 3/28/96: On the final day of spring training, Kirby Puckett wakes up unable to see out of his right eye. He would be diagnosed with career-ending glaucoma. 3/30/81: Ken Landreaux is traded to the Dodgers for Mickey Hatcher and 2 others. 3/31/87: Just before opening their championship season, the Twins release fan-favorite Mickey Hatcher, and trade 2 minor league pitchers and a player to be named later to San Francisco for Dan Gladden and others. The Twins would send Bemidji-native, Bryan Hickerson, to the Giants in June to complete the trade. 3/31/10: Leading off a spring training game vs. the Yankees and future-Twins pitcher, Phil Hughes, Denard Span fouls off a 3-2 pitch that hits his mother, sitting behind the third base dugout and wearing a Span Twins jersey, square in the chest. It is a scary moment at the ballpark, but she is not seriously hurt. 4/1/07: Herb Carneal, the radio play-by-play voice of the Twins from 1962-2006 (44 years), passes away at age 83. 4/2/62: The Twins trade pitcherPedro Ramos to Cleveland for Vic Power, and Nimrod, MN-native, Dick Stigman. 4/2/02: The Twins open the regular season with 5 HRs in an 8-6 win vs. KC. Jacque Jones hits solo and 3-run HRs. David Ortiz, Brian Buchanan, and Torii Hunter hit solo HRs. 4/2/10: The Twins play the first MLB game at new Target Field, an exhibition vs. St. Louis. Denard Span collects the stadium’s first hit, a triple, and the first HR and run scored. Jacque Jones, attempting a comeback with the club, pinch-hits and receives a moving standing ovation from Twins fans. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160320_153544_zpswn6qfgcj.jpg For the history of the Minnesota Twins, told one day at a time, follow @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter. For the stories of the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, follow @MajorMinnesota on Twitter, and like Major Minnesotans on Facebook.
  22. And here is The Twins Almanac for the week of March 27th to April 2nd, 2016. 3/27 is the birthday of Michael Cuddyer, born in 1979 in Norfolk, VA. He was the Twins’ 1st round draft pick out of high school in 1997. In 2009 he hit for the cycle (5/22), and homered twice in the same inning (8/23). He was an All-Star in his final season in Minnesota (‘11), and again with Colorado in 2013 when he was the National League batting champ (.331).3/27/73: 37 year old future Twins HOFer, Jim Perry, okays trade to Detroit. 3/27/05: Iconic Twins public address announcer of 44 years, Bob Casey, passes away at age 79. Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden and Jack Morris would serve as pallbearers at his funeral. 3/28/96: On the final day of spring training, Kirby Puckett wakes up unable to see out of his right eye. He would be diagnosed with career-ending glaucoma. 3/30/81: Ken Landreaux is traded to the Dodgers for Mickey Hatcher and 2 others. 3/31/87: Just before opening their championship season, the Twins release fan-favorite Mickey Hatcher, and trade 2 minor league pitchers and a player to be named later to San Francisco for Dan Gladden and others. The Twins would send Bemidji-native, Bryan Hickerson, to the Giants in June to complete the trade. 3/31/10: Leading off a spring training game vs. the Yankees and future-Twins pitcher, Phil Hughes, Denard Span fouls off a 3-2 pitch that hits his mother, sitting behind the third base dugout and wearing a Span Twins jersey, square in the chest. It is a scary moment at the ballpark, but she is not seriously hurt. 4/1/07: Herb Carneal, the radio play-by-play voice of the Twins from 1962-2006 (44 years), passes away at age 83. 4/2/62: The Twins trade pitcherPedro Ramos to Cleveland for Vic Power, and Nimrod, MN-native, Dick Stigman. 4/2/02: The Twins open the regular season with 5 HRs in an 8-6 win vs. KC. Jacque Jones hits solo and 3-run HRs. David Ortiz, Brian Buchanan, and Torii Hunter hit solo HRs. 4/2/10: The Twins play the first MLB game at new Target Field, an exhibition vs. St. Louis. Denard Span collects the stadium’s first hit, a triple, and the first HR and run scored. Jacque Jones, attempting a comeback with the club, pinch-hits and receives a moving standing ovation from Twins fans. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160320_153544_zpswn6qfgcj.jpg For the history of the Minnesota Twins, told one day at a time, follow @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter. For the stories of the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, follow @MajorMinnesota on Twitter, and like Major Minnesotans on Facebook. Click here to view the article
  23. March 5, 2006, was a Sunday. I was at my house surfing the internet. Early in the afternoon, news came out the Kirby Puckett had suffered a stroke. It was a shock, one of those moments where your heart misses a beat. But all along I kept thinking, “Well, it’s Kirby Puckett. He’s going to be OK. He's got to be OK.” It wasn’t long before the tone of the reports shifted and the outlook didn’t look very good. We heard that Dan Gladden and others were traveling to Arizona. I went to work that Monday morning with a heavy heart. As soon as I got to the office, I printed off a picture of Kirby Puckett and taped it up on the overhead bin in my cubicle. Under it, another print-out had the words “Get Well, Kirby!” If I recall, Puckett passed away that morning. I read the news. The “Get Well Kirby” was replaced with “RIP, Kirby! The Greatest!” I had been blogging for about three years already at that time so people around the office knew that I was a baseball fan and a Twins fan. Before noon, I had dozens of people come to my desk and feel the need to talk about, to ask me if I had heard. I answered their questions. But it hurt. I had to leave. I just had to get out of the office. I left the office and went home. I just wanted to be alone. I don’t remember if I shed tears, but I do remember just sitting in a chair, numb. I remember asking myself how many 30-year-olds in Minnesota were feeling the same way I was. That was a rough day. -------------------------------------------------- When you’re young and you play baseball, you have to have a favorite player and a favorite team. Being from Minnesota, of course my favorite team was the Minnesota Twins. Favorite player? Well, everyone had TBS at that time, and I watched quite a few Braves games. For some reason, I never really liked the Cubs, but I loved the Braves. Claudell Washington was my first favorite player. But I was a Twins fan. My parents would take us to the Metrodome a time or two a year. We’d get there for batting practice and try to get some autographs. The Twins were on TV much less at that time, and living in the outstate, it was even more rare. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Twins games were on Midwest Sports Center (and later Fox Sports North) and we could get a large majority of the games. In 1984, I was eight years old. Kirby Puckett was called up to the Twins. He had four hits in his big league debut. I was immediately a fan. Was it because he was short and stocky, like eight-year-old me? Maybe. Was it that he was really fast and the Twins really needed a center fielder badly? I guess, but probably not likely. Was it because he had such a cool name? I think there is a lot of truth in that one. I had been collecting baseball cards since 1982 and had already learned what the numbers on the back meant and could do a lot of the math in my head. By 1984, I was reading box scores in the newspaper most every day. And now I had a name that I could look for first in the paper. Puckett CF 5 1 2 1 When I did watch him more, I just enjoyed it. He swung at pretty much everything. The pitch could be six inches off the plate, and he would swing, and usually end up getting a hit. He played so hard, and he looked like he was having a blast. I remember getting ready for school one day in 1985, Puckett’s second season. It was late April. Puckett did not hit a home run during his rookie season. On April 22, 1985, Puckett hit his first home run. I believe it was after my bedtime. The next morning, I remember sitting on the living room couch, struggling to tie my shoes. My mom came into the room and said, “Seth, did you hear? Kirby Puckett his his first home run last night!” I was so excited, but that’s what it is like for a kid’s favorite player. You remember the minutiae like sitting on the couch and looking at your mom when she walks into the room. Mom walked into the room where I was getting ready for school hundreds of times in my youth. That morning is the only one that I remember vividly. That’s what it is when you have a sports hero. A few years later, I was playing summer baseball on a team where we got real uniforms. What number did I request? 34, of course. While I wasn’t always able to get that number, I tried. When I moved up to varsity basketball as a junior, something strange happened. Home jerseys were odd numbers, and road jerseys were even numbers. My home jersey number was 55. My varsity baseball number had been five, and my high school football number became 55, so I was happy with 55. Because of that, I probably should have gone with uniform 54 on the road in basketball. No, I went with 34. ---------------------------------------------- It’s awesome when the player that you idolized as an eight-year-old becomes a great player too. That doesn’t hurt. And, Puckett was a great, great player. Think about it. As a rookie he hit .292 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. The next year, he hit .288. And then he took off. From 1986 through 1995, he was an all-star all ten years. He won six Gold Gloves in center field and made so many of those leaping catches over the eight-foot wall. He won six Silver Slugger awards. He finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting seven times, finishing second in 1992 and third in 1987 and 1988. Five times he had over 200 hits and led the league four times. Sure, he didn’t like walking, but advanced stats sure showed him to be great. After those first two seasons, his OPS+ never dipped below 119. Because of his physique, people would often talk about how he wouldn't age well on the field. His final two seasons were 1994 and 1995. They were his age 34 and 35 seasons. He posted OPS of .902 and .894, the third and fifth best seasons of his career. ---------------------------------------- Kirby Puckett joined a strong core of young players when he came up, and that core helped the Twins to the 1987 championship. Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, and Tim Laudner were all with the Twins already when Puckett joined them. That 1987 team was special. They were a group of guys who seemed to really gel together as a team, and build into a champion. Twins fans felt it. Twins fans even today recall that team and those players with special fondness. Brunansky was traded early in 1988. Viola won the 1988 Cy Young but in 1989 he was traded. Gary Gaetti left via free agency. However, Puckett and Hrbek were still around. So were Dan Gladden, Al Newman and Gene Larkin. They were now joined by the likes of Knoblauch, Scott Erickson and Rule 5 pick Shane Mack. Kevin Tapani and Rick Aguilera came to the Twins in the Viola trade. The Twins brought in Jack Morris, Chili Davis and Mike Pagliarulo via free agency. That team was also very special. In 1990, the Twins had the worst record in the American League. In 1991, the Twins faced the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. The Braves had finished last in the National League in 1990. The two teams produced what many call the greatest World Series of all time. Kirby Puckett played a big role in each of those World Championships. He had those shining moments that fans just can’t forget. He was fortunate that his teammates helped get the team to the position where Puckett could come up big. Consider the following: 1987 ALCS vs Detroit - He went 1-13 in the first three games of the series before going 4-11 with a homer in the final two games. 1987 World Series - Through game five, Puckett was just 4-20 (.200). Then in Game 6, he went 4-4. Then he went 2-4 with a double in Game 7. 1991 ALCS vs Toronto - He was 1-7 in the first two games. In games three through five, he went 8-14 with a double and two home runs. 1991 World Series - Through the first five games, Puckett went 3-18 (.167). And we all remember Game 6. He had The Catch, and then he had the “We’ll see you tomorrow night” walk-off home run to send it to Game 7. Fans love the story of Puckett going into the the clubhouse before Game 6 in 1991 and telling the team that he was going to put them on his back. And then he came through. Puckett was the clear leader of those Tom Kelly championship teams. In 1987, I was in 7th grade. I remember after Game 5 thinking that the Twins were down 3-2, but they were good at home. I had hope, but it was tough. I remember Game 7. My family was watching the game upstairs on our main TV. I was down in the unfinished basement, watching on a fuzzy, snowy, black-and-white TV. By myself. I couldn’t stand to be around people. It was just too exciting. In 1991, I was a junior in high school. I mean, I remember it much, much more. I remember that feeling in my heart during Game 6. I remember the intensity of Game 7. Jack Morris was tremendous, but so was John Smoltz. Do you remember the 3-2-3 double play? Ron Gant and Kent Hrbek. Chuck Knoblauch deeking Lonnie Smith to save a run. Gene Larkin singling to deep right. Dan Gladden running home from third. Ron Gardenhire running around third base as if he were an airplane. Jack Morris summoning Gladden to and the simultaneous jump of that pile as Gladden hopped on home plate. ------------------------------------------------------------- Things ended unfortunately for Puckett. He was hit by a running Dennis Martinez pitch very late in that 1995 season. His jaw was broken and his season was over. Although that incident is not the reason, it would prove to be the final at-bat of his career. It ended his season. He came to spring training in 1996, and he was just crushing the ball. Paul Molitor had signed with the team, and Chuck Knoblauch was one of the game’s best players at that time. There was a lot of excitement. However, on March 28th, right before the start of the season, Puckett woke up unable to see out of his right eye. Soon, he was diagnosed with glaucoma. Four surgeries later and nothing more could be done. Puckett announced his retirement. At this point, I was in college. It was another moment where my eyes just might have contained some sweat. Watching the press conference and seeing tears flowing from Knoblauch and Molitor’s eyes was hard. ------------------------------------------------- Five years later, he was on the Hall of Fame ballot. In my mind, he was an easy choice to be a Hall of Famer, but until it is official you just never know. In the end, Puckett easily made it in the first ballot. Immediately I made calls to my dad and my brother. We had a trip to plan. Along with a high school friend and his dad, we went to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame induction weekend in 2001. Being there was an amazing experience. The Museum is a bucket list thing for all baseball fans. I’m sure many of you were there too. Based on the number of fans who came from Minnesota I know some of you did. ------------------------------------------------------ Following Puckett’s Hall of Fame induction, things got bad for Puckett. News came out about his personal life that was too terrible to be ignored. There were accusations of domestic abuse. Puckett was shown to be unfaithful to his wife publicly, even though it was clear that Twins media appeared to have some knowledge of it. More and more information came out, and then there was the Frank Deford article in Sports Illustrated. The cover showed Puckett as a player and also at his current state and had the title, “The Secret Life of Kirby Puckett.” It was through that even, again in 2001, that I would never place an athlete or anyone else on a pedestal the way that I had done with Puckett. To this day, I 100% respect any athlete’s ability to play the game, but it’s hard to know what’s really going on behind closed doors. It was an important lesson for me, and it should be for others as well. Respect the player. Respect the way he plays the game and the success that he experiences. Notice and appreciate the work that the players do off the field and in the community. And just leave it at that. Imagine how Puckett might be judged now had Twitter been around at that time. ----------------------------------------------------- Kirby Puckett was my hero. Getting one of his baseball cards was always a good feeling. Watching him play the game for 12 years in a Twins uniform. If you are anywhere near my age I’m guessing the Kirby Puckett holds a special place in your heart to this day. Ten years ago today Puckett’s life came to an end. It was a day of great sadness, and a lot of soul searching. Here I am, ten year later, and thinking about Kirby Puckett still brings back great memories. He wasn’t a perfect player, but he was an all-time great. He was a Hall of Famer. He did a lot in the community. He always played hard, and he always had the big smile on his face. He had some big moments, and he led our favorite team to two World Series championships.
  24. Without question, my first real hero in baseball was Kirby Puckett. Without question, Kirby Puckett was my last real baseball hero. Anyone who grew up a baseball fan in the mid-80s through the mid-90s likely had the same baseball role model as me, Kirby Puckett. Ten years ago today, Kirby Puckett passed away at the age of 45, a day after suffering a massive stroke at his home in Arizona. I’ve shared some of the below at various times in the past, but I felt like sharing my thoughts on Puckett. I’m certain, and I hope, many of you will share your memories as well.March 5, 2006, was a Sunday. I was at my house surfing the internet. Early in the afternoon, news came out the Kirby Puckett had suffered a stroke. It was a shock, one of those moments where your heart misses a beat. But all along I kept thinking, “Well, it’s Kirby Puckett. He’s going to be OK. He's got to be OK.” It wasn’t long before the tone of the reports shifted and the outlook didn’t look very good. We heard that Dan Gladden and others were traveling to Arizona. I went to work that Monday morning with a heavy heart. As soon as I got to the office, I printed off a picture of Kirby Puckett and taped it up on the overhead bin in my cubicle. Under it, another print-out had the words “Get Well, Kirby!” If I recall, Puckett passed away that morning. I read the news. The “Get Well Kirby” was replaced with “RIP, Kirby! The Greatest!” I had been blogging for about three years already at that time so people around the office knew that I was a baseball fan and a Twins fan. Before noon, I had dozens of people come to my desk and feel the need to talk about, to ask me if I had heard. I answered their questions. But it hurt. I had to leave. I just had to get out of the office. I left the office and went home. I just wanted to be alone. I don’t remember if I shed tears, but I do remember just sitting in a chair, numb. I remember asking myself how many 30-year-olds in Minnesota were feeling the same way I was. That was a rough day. -------------------------------------------------- When you’re young and you play baseball, you have to have a favorite player and a favorite team. Being from Minnesota, of course my favorite team was the Minnesota Twins. Favorite player? Well, everyone had TBS at that time, and I watched quite a few Braves games. For some reason, I never really liked the Cubs, but I loved the Braves. Claudell Washington was my first favorite player. But I was a Twins fan. My parents would take us to the Metrodome a time or two a year. We’d get there for batting practice and try to get some autographs. The Twins were on TV much less at that time, and living in the outstate, it was even more rare. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Twins games were on Midwest Sports Center (and later Fox Sports North) and we could get a large majority of the games. In 1984, I was eight years old. Kirby Puckett was called up to the Twins. He had four hits in his big league debut. I was immediately a fan. Was it because he was short and stocky, like eight-year-old me? Maybe. Was it that he was really fast and the Twins really needed a center fielder badly? I guess, but probably not likely. Was it because he had such a cool name? I think there is a lot of truth in that one. I had been collecting baseball cards since 1982 and had already learned what the numbers on the back meant and could do a lot of the math in my head. By 1984, I was reading box scores in the newspaper most every day. And now I had a name that I could look for first in the paper. Puckett CF 5 1 2 1 When I did watch him more, I just enjoyed it. He swung at pretty much everything. The pitch could be six inches off the plate, and he would swing, and usually end up getting a hit. He played so hard, and he looked like he was having a blast. I remember getting ready for school one day in 1985, Puckett’s second season. It was late April. Puckett did not hit a home run during his rookie season. On April 22, 1985, Puckett hit his first home run. I believe it was after my bedtime. The next morning, I remember sitting on the living room couch, struggling to tie my shoes. My mom came into the room and said, “Seth, did you hear? Kirby Puckett his his first home run last night!” I was so excited, but that’s what it is like for a kid’s favorite player. You remember the minutiae like sitting on the couch and looking at your mom when she walks into the room. Mom walked into the room where I was getting ready for school hundreds of times in my youth. That morning is the only one that I remember vividly. That’s what it is when you have a sports hero. A few years later, I was playing summer baseball on a team where we got real uniforms. What number did I request? 34, of course. While I wasn’t always able to get that number, I tried. When I moved up to varsity basketball as a junior, something strange happened. Home jerseys were odd numbers, and road jerseys were even numbers. My home jersey number was 55. My varsity baseball number had been five, and my high school football number became 55, so I was happy with 55. Because of that, I probably should have gone with uniform 54 on the road in basketball. No, I went with 34. ---------------------------------------------- It’s awesome when the player that you idolized as an eight-year-old becomes a great player too. That doesn’t hurt. And, Puckett was a great, great player. Think about it. As a rookie he hit .292 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. The next year, he hit .288. And then he took off. From 1986 through 1995, he was an all-star all ten years. He won six Gold Gloves in center field and made so many of those leaping catches over the eight-foot wall. He won six Silver Slugger awards. He finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting seven times, finishing second in 1992 and third in 1987 and 1988. Five times he had over 200 hits and led the league four times. Sure, he didn’t like walking, but advanced stats sure showed him to be great. After those first two seasons, his OPS+ never dipped below 119. Because of his physique, people would often talk about how he wouldn't age well on the field. His final two seasons were 1994 and 1995. They were his age 34 and 35 seasons. He posted OPS of .902 and .894, the third and fifth best seasons of his career. ---------------------------------------- Kirby Puckett joined a strong core of young players when he came up, and that core helped the Twins to the 1987 championship. Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, and Tim Laudner were all with the Twins already when Puckett joined them. That 1987 team was special. They were a group of guys who seemed to really gel together as a team, and build into a champion. Twins fans felt it. Twins fans even today recall that team and those players with special fondness. Brunansky was traded early in 1988. Viola won the 1988 Cy Young but in 1989 he was traded. Gary Gaetti left via free agency. However, Puckett and Hrbek were still around. So were Dan Gladden, Al Newman and Gene Larkin. They were now joined by the likes of Knoblauch, Scott Erickson and Rule 5 pick Shane Mack. Kevin Tapani and Rick Aguilera came to the Twins in the Viola trade. The Twins brought in Jack Morris, Chili Davis and Mike Pagliarulo via free agency. That team was also very special. In 1990, the Twins had the worst record in the American League. In 1991, the Twins faced the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. The Braves had finished last in the National League in 1990. The two teams produced what many call the greatest World Series of all time. Kirby Puckett played a big role in each of those World Championships. He had those shining moments that fans just can’t forget. He was fortunate that his teammates helped get the team to the position where Puckett could come up big. Consider the following: 1987 ALCS vs Detroit - He went 1-13 in the first three games of the series before going 4-11 with a homer in the final two games.1987 World Series - Through game five, Puckett was just 4-20 (.200). Then in Game 6, he went 4-4. Then he went 2-4 with a double in Game 7.1991 ALCS vs Toronto - He was 1-7 in the first two games. In games three through five, he went 8-14 with a double and two home runs.1991 World Series - Through the first five games, Puckett went 3-18 (.167). And we all remember Game 6. He had The Catch, and then he had the “We’ll see you tomorrow night” walk-off home run to send it to Game 7.Fans love the story of Puckett going into the the clubhouse before Game 6 in 1991 and telling the team that he was going to put them on his back. And then he came through. Puckett was the clear leader of those Tom Kelly championship teams. In 1987, I was in 7th grade. I remember after Game 5 thinking that the Twins were down 3-2, but they were good at home. I had hope, but it was tough. I remember Game 7. My family was watching the game upstairs on our main TV. I was down in the unfinished basement, watching on a fuzzy, snowy, black-and-white TV. By myself. I couldn’t stand to be around people. It was just too exciting. In 1991, I was a junior in high school. I mean, I remember it much, much more. I remember that feeling in my heart during Game 6. I remember the intensity of Game 7. Jack Morris was tremendous, but so was John Smoltz. Do you remember the 3-2-3 double play? Ron Gant and Kent Hrbek. Chuck Knoblauch deeking Lonnie Smith to save a run. Gene Larkin singling to deep right. Dan Gladden running home from third. Ron Gardenhire running around third base as if he were an airplane. Jack Morris summoning Gladden to and the simultaneous jump of that pile as Gladden hopped on home plate. ------------------------------------------------------------- Things ended unfortunately for Puckett. He was hit by a running Dennis Martinez pitch very late in that 1995 season. His jaw was broken and his season was over. Although that incident is not the reason, it would prove to be the final at-bat of his career. It ended his season. He came to spring training in 1996, and he was just crushing the ball. Paul Molitor had signed with the team, and Chuck Knoblauch was one of the game’s best players at that time. There was a lot of excitement. However, on March 28th, right before the start of the season, Puckett woke up unable to see out of his right eye. Soon, he was diagnosed with glaucoma. Four surgeries later and nothing more could be done. Puckett announced his retirement. At this point, I was in college. It was another moment where my eyes just might have contained some sweat. Watching the press conference and seeing tears flowing from Knoblauch and Molitor’s eyes was hard. ------------------------------------------------- Five years later, he was on the Hall of Fame ballot. In my mind, he was an easy choice to be a Hall of Famer, but until it is official you just never know. In the end, Puckett easily made it in the first ballot. Immediately I made calls to my dad and my brother. We had a trip to plan. Along with a high school friend and his dad, we went to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame induction weekend in 2001. Being there was an amazing experience. The Museum is a bucket list thing for all baseball fans. I’m sure many of you were there too. Based on the number of fans who came from Minnesota I know some of you did. ------------------------------------------------------ Following Puckett’s Hall of Fame induction, things got bad for Puckett. News came out about his personal life that was too terrible to be ignored. There were accusations of domestic abuse. Puckett was shown to be unfaithful to his wife publicly, even though it was clear that Twins media appeared to have some knowledge of it. More and more information came out, and then there was the Frank Deford article in Sports Illustrated. The cover showed Puckett as a player and also at his current state and had the title, “The Secret Life of Kirby Puckett.” It was through that even, again in 2001, that I would never place an athlete or anyone else on a pedestal the way that I had done with Puckett. To this day, I 100% respect any athlete’s ability to play the game, but it’s hard to know what’s really going on behind closed doors. It was an important lesson for me, and it should be for others as well. Respect the player. Respect the way he plays the game and the success that he experiences. Notice and appreciate the work that the players do off the field and in the community. And just leave it at that. Imagine how Puckett might be judged now had Twitter been around at that time. ----------------------------------------------------- Kirby Puckett was my hero. Getting one of his baseball cards was always a good feeling. Watching him play the game for 12 years in a Twins uniform. If you are anywhere near my age I’m guessing the Kirby Puckett holds a special place in your heart to this day. Ten years ago today Puckett’s life came to an end. It was a day of great sadness, and a lot of soul searching. Here I am, ten year later, and thinking about Kirby Puckett still brings back great memories. He wasn’t a perfect player, but he was an all-time great. He was a Hall of Famer. He did a lot in the community. He always played hard, and he always had the big smile on his face. He had some big moments, and he led our favorite team to two World Series championships. Click here to view the article
  25. “I’ve been reading about some people who have said that it’s a disgrace to have us representing the American League,” Gary Gaetti told reporters not long before the start of the 1987 World Series. “The way I figure it, we might as well go ahead and disgrace the whole game by winning it.” Yes, while the Twins were heavy underdogs facing the powerful and experienced Tigers in the previous round, sentiments shifted as the battered and bruised Cardinals landed in town. For as much as they wanted to continue to play the role of the dark horse, suddenly people believed in the Twins’ chances. On display in the ALCS was power, pitching and solid decision-making by the rookie manager. More national media types were throwing their weight behind the team that had torn the stuffing out of Detroit in five games. “Now that the Twins have become America’s team, I’ll say Minnesota in six games,” ESPN’s Chris Berman predicted. “Twins in six,” speculated the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Gerry Fraley. “Their pitching staff is in order. They have the first two games at home. They’re relatively healthy. The series is set up perfectly for them.” Tim Kurkjian, who had written that the Tigers would trounce the Twins in the American League Championship Series, now saw them as the superior team. He still threw shade by saying “the Twins will win in seven because the Cardinals are so banged up and because of the Metrodome factor.” While the Twins shifted to favorites, no one was counting St. Louis out. Were the Cardinals injured? Yup. Were they offensively depleted? Of course. But they had speed and speed never slumps. They were battle-tested with recent World Series experience. And they had Whitey Herzog at the helm. Herzog had guided his team to the best record in the National League and pulled them through a bloodbath of a playoff series against the San Francisco Giants. At 95-67, the Cardinals had finished with the National League’s best record. Yet, in many ways, they had lost the magic from the first half of the season. At the All Star Break St. Louis led all of baseball with 56 wins. Despite pitching well and playing good defense throughout the year, it was the offense that was ablaze in the season’s first half, scoring an MLB-best 486 runs. Even though speedsters like Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith and Tommy Herr were getting on and getting over, the vast majority of the lumber was supplied by first baseman Jack Clark, who was hitting .311/.459/.645 with an MLB leading 86 RBI at that point. His loss would be monumental to the Cardinals' lineup. On September 9, while playing at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, his season all but ended. In the top of the sixth, Clark hit a harmless grounder off of Dennis Martinez that third baseman Tim Wallach fielded cleanly only to make a wide throw to Andres Galarraga at first. In an attempt to avoid Galarraga’s tag, Clark rolled his ankle. Herzog would later say that he knew that Clark’s season was finished right then and there. Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch wrote in his biography that the injury was one of the “ugliest” he had ever seen, describing Clark’s foot grossly swollen and the color of an eggplant. ''Without Jack Clark in the lineup we’re missing a big weapon,'' Jim Lindeman, Clark’s replacement, told reporters. “When he walks up to the plate, he's the only guy who gets the crowd buzzing and the other team fidgeting. He's the only guy who intimidates people with his bat.'' Indeed. After Clark's bat in the lineup, there was a prolific drop-off in power for St. Louis. And to make matters worse, the next closest power contributor had also just injured himself. Terry Pendleton, who had the most home runs on the team behind Clark, pulled a muscle in his rib cage during the final game of the National League Championship Series and was not expected to participate much in the World Series. “Right now it is doubtful that he will play at all,” Herzog said addressing the media before the series. Clark and Pendleton’s absence was no doubt felt throughout the Cardinal lineup. Rather than having Clark, a hitter with a 1.055 OPS that season, Herzog was forced to choose from the rookie Lindeman, who possessed a .632 OPS over his last two seasons, or the 35-year-old Dan Driessen, who had spent most of the year in AAA and posted a .625 OPS in 24 games with the Cardinals. In place of Pendleton, who had posted a respectable .772 OPS that year, it was the 30-year-old Tom Lawless, owner of a career .549 OPS. “Two hundred RBIs,” Herzog answered when asked if they team would miss Clark and Pendleton in the heart of the order. “I’d say that is a hole.” Clark led the team with 35 home runs during the regular season. After that, Pendleton’s 12 was a distant second followed by center fielder Willie McGee’s 11. McGee, a light-hitting speedster, sadly represented St. Louis’ biggest long-ball threat. In fact, no other Cardinals starter managed more than five that year. Prior the series, the Star Tribune’s Doug Grow marveled at the juxtaposition of the two teams. “The Twins dig in at the plate and grunt as they play long-ball. Watch ‘em in batting practice. They love that time in the cage. They stand there and laugh and measure how far they hit it,” Grow observed. “When the St. Louis Cardinals step into the batting cage, the walls are safe from baseballs. Batting is something the Cardinals do only so they can get a chance to run.” With so few options Herzog decided to use the right-handed part-time player in Lindeman -- who had nine career home runs to his name -- as his cleanup hitter against left-handed pitching in the postseason. In Game 3 of the NLCS, Lindeman responded by hitting a 1-1 fastball from San Francisco’s Atlee Hammaker over the left-center field fence for a two-run shot (one of two home runs the Cardinals hit that entire seven game series). It was his first cleanup duty since April of that year. "I think the last time I batted cleanup I probably went oh for four and broke three bats," he told reporters after the game. With another left-hander on the mound from Minnesota in Game 1 and the switch-hitting Pendleton unable to swing from the right-side, Herzog went forward with a lineup card that included Lindeman in the middle of the order, another rookie at DH (Tom Pagnozzi and his .583 OPS) and Lawless, who had a .080 batting average in the regular season, at third. They would meet the man affectionately known in Minnesota as Sweet Music. *** On the night of October 17, 1987, 27-year-old Frank Viola was at work and not at his brother’s wedding in New York where he was supposed to be the best man, like he had committed to a year prior. In 1986 the Twins were well out of postseason contention and the left-handed starter figured that if 1987 were anything like the previous year, he would have his October wide open to participate in his brother’s nuptials. After all, how could a team that won just 71 games make up that much ground? “I thought it would be a little far-fetched. I told ‘em, yeah, I shouldn’t have any problem making it. That was last year, when we were 20 games under .500. It’s unbelieveable,” said Viola. Viola was heavily responsible for the Twins making this postseason run. He had finished the year 17-10 with a solid 2.90 ERA (a career-best 159 ERA+). It was a coming out party of sorts. Viola went from a very good pitcher in 1986 to a great one in 1987. When people asked how he was able to shave an entire run off his ERA over the previous year, he attributed it to his changeup. Viola’s development of the changeup was the difference maker from the good pitcher that arrived with the Twins in the early 1980s into the great one towards the end of that decade. In 1983, Viola was a lefty who used a solid fastball and a slider-curveball combination to retire hitters (or not retire them when you consider his 128 earned runs that season was the most in baseball). That same year, Twins pitching coach Johnny Podres taught Viola how to throw a changeup, keeping his arm action consistent with his fastball delivery. When Podres left and Dick Such took over pitching coach duties, Viola’s changeup became a significant weapon. “I had been working on it for 3 ½ years under Podres but was using 15 or 20 grips. None of them worked. When Such joined us, he made a few adjustments and all of a sudden I found myself comfortable throwing a changeup,” Viola said in spring training before the 1986 season. By 1986, he had mastered command of the pitch and scrapped his slider in favor of the off-speed pitch. "The changeup I use now is the one I felt most comfortable with, but it took me two years to throw it over the plate," Viola told the LA Times in August 1987. Because the Twins were pushed out of the pennant race early in 1986, Viola said he was able to experiment with the pitch until he got it right. It was working swimmingly -- after striking out 5.3 hitters per nine innings over his first four seasons, he was now whiffing 7 per nine, a massive jump. Most notably, the changeup also gave Viola an advantage over right-handed hitters he did not have before. From 1982 through 1985, Viola struck out 13 percent of right-handed hitters but saw that rate jump to 19 percent in 1986 through 1987. That's one reason why that, on October 17, 1987, Frank Viola was standing on the mound at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and not at his brother's wedding ceremony. The game started off with a failed bunt attempted by Cardinals' leadoff hitter Vince Coleman on Viola’s first-pitch curve. That brought shortstop Ozzie Smith to the plate. Smith took his stance in the right-handed batters’ box. With the exception of Bill Buckner, no hitter was more difficult to strike out than the Wizard of Oz. From 1982 through 1987, Smith had struck out in just 4.9% of his total plate appearances. If there was one thing Ozzie was going to do, it was put the ball in play. In his first appearance against Viola in his career, the left-hander shot a low-90s fastball on the inner-half of the plate at Smith's knees for strike one and then missed wide on a big curve that skipped in the dirt to even the count. Viola now turned to that off-speed weapon that the National League was not accustomed to. The first changeup he threw split the plate in half while falling rapidly, leaving Smith waving over the top of it. Viola followed that one with a near clone of it that Smith once again swung over for strike three. Up to that point in his career, Ozzie Smith had 55 World Series plate appearances under his belt without a strikeout. If their first match-up was any indication, Frank Viola was showing the Cardinals hitters and viewers across America that something special was afoot. **** When you consider the personnel loss the Cardinals had, it was a near miracle that they were able to overtake the Giants in the NLCS. ABC’s Al Michaels’ suggested that Herzog reached baseball’s pinnacle series by virtue of “paste and glue and tacks and the rest of it”. They were missing Clark. Pendleton had a strained rib cage that kept him from being able to hit right-handed. Everything about the lineup felt patchwork. Following his tendon tear Clark attempted to do everything possible to make it back for the postseason to face his former team. He made a pair of pinch-hitting appearances in the regular season and was kept on the roster for the NLCS despite the inability to put much weight on his right leg. Prior to games, he and some of the coaching staff took private on-field batting practice, away from the attention of his teammates and onlookers. It did not go well. He lunged and lurched at balls and produce off-balanced swings with mediocre contact. "It's going to take a while longer," he said in response to an inquiry about his injury status, "and I don't know how much longer it will be. This is more than just a little twisted ankle. There isn't any medicine I can take. If there were shots or pills that would help, I'd have had them by now.” Herzog used Clark once in the seven game series against San Francisco -- a pinch-hit appearance in Game 3 -- where Clark struck out looking with runners on first and second. Before the start of the World Series, the Cardinals ran Clark through a simulated game. Clark went down looking in his at-bats, barely able to transfer his weight off his front leg. That was enough for Herzog to decide not to keep him on the roster for the series, instead opting to carry reliever Lee Tunnell. Surprisingly, it was Clark’s replacement who got the Cardinals on the board first. Leading off the second inning, Viola ran a fastball off the inside edge of the plate, inciting the right-handed Lindeman to flinch. Naturally, the next offering after going hard in was to throw something soft away. Viola spotted a changeup just off the outside corner but left it too far up and Lindeman, now swinging off his front foot, was able to lift toward center field. Puckett, who enjoyed playing a deep center in order to defend the wall and takeaway would-be home runs, initially froze. Perhaps Puckett misjudged the contact, or lost the ball momentarily in the sea of white Homer Hankies; either way, by the time he made his furious break back toward the infield and the landing spot, the ball hit the artificial turf and Lindeman gained second. Following a Willie McGee fly out to right center that moved him up a base, Lindeman later scored on an RBI groundout by Tony Pena, putting the Cardinals up 1-0. As it turns out, the run proved to be as harmless as a minnow bite. Although Magrane had kept the potent Twins hitless through the first three innings, his habit of falling behind hitters and issuing free passes eventually catch up to him. The Twins offense also used their first plate appearances to calibrate themselves against the young pitcher. After their first looks, they were ready to pounce. Magrane had relied mainly on his sinking fastball -- one that didn’t find the zone consistently. In the bottom of the fourth, he started Gaetti with a fastball inside which the reigning ALCS MVP rapped on the ground down the third baseline. Lawless, playing deep for the power hitter, laid out to snare the ball well behind the bag and came up firing. In a bang-bang play, Gaetti beat it by a step -- the Twins’ first hit of the 1987 World Series was an infield hit. After Gaetti’s single, veteran DH Don Baylor did the same. Ditto for Tom Brunansky. *** Brunansky didn’t know it at the time but he was showcasing his talents his future employer. It was no secret that the Cardinals lacked power. When Clark left as a free agent after the 1987 season, St. Louis was left with a pile of toothpicks for bats. Internally, they hoped that Lindeman would progress in the power department but they looked for more of a proven presence, adding beefy Bob Horner to the mix, much to manager Whitey Herzog’s chagrin. The 30-year-old Horner had averaged 24 home runs in his ten seasons in Atlanta but had spent 1987 in Japan playing for the Yakult Swallows where he smacked another 31 home runs. In his exit interview, Horner took parting shots at the Japanese version of the game, calling out the pitchers for not throwing him strikes, chastising the fans for their choice of whistles and noisemakers, and saying the umpires’ strike zones were prejudice against foreigners. His words nearly incited an international incident. While he never was asked about Horner’s remarks, the Redbirds’ manager wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of adding him based on his pool of play. “I don’t like Horner,” Herzog told reporters where rumors surfaced that Cardinals’ GM Dal Maxvill was targeting the large first baseman. “Of his lifetime homers, about seventy percent were hit in Atlanta. He never could hit in St. Louis. He can’t hit, and he can’t field.” It was true that the bulk of Horner’s home runs had come in Fulton County Stadium -- 174 of his 218 homers came in Atlanta. Herzog’s words, however, eventually reached Horner who had signed with St. Louis on a one-year, $960,000 deal, significantly lower than the $10 million multi-year deal that Yukult offered him to stay. “Obviously it’s not something you want to read,” Horner said. “But even though Whitey had criticized me in making those statements, I would still enjoy the challenge of proving him wrong.” With a need for more power, the Cardinals turned to the Twins. On April 22, 1988, the two sides agreed to swap the outfielder Brunansky for St. Louis’ switch-hitting second baseman, Tommy Herr. According to Sid Hartman, who had learned of the trade on the radio while driving his close, personal friend Bobby Knight to his hotel in Bloomington, he immediately called McPhail at home in the middle of the night to ask “what the hell is going on?” The Twins GM told the Star Tribune columnist that they were convinced Brunansky couldn’t throw the ball from right field any more and was turning into a defensive liability. What’s more, Brunansky was hitting .184 with just a lone home run through the season’s first 14 games. And, more importantly, the Twins were 4 and 9 and looking for a spark. Herr reportedly cried when he heard the news. His desire to play for the Twins was questioned by fans, the media and teammates when he was continually sidelined with injuries. In his autobiography, Kent Hrbek called Herr the only teammate he ever played with that he really didn’t like. Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Brunansky brought with him some of the Twins’ loosy-goosy clubhouse attitude that involved various pranks which endeared him to his coworkers -- possibly with the exception of pitcher Joe Magrane. Later that summer, with the help of Ozzie Smith, the outfielder orchestrated a prank on the pitcher. Magrane, who had a reputation as being a pretty-boy clotheshorse, was sent a telegram from GQ magazine requesting a photoshoot. Smith had been profiled in the April issue so it seemed somewhat plausible that the magazine was interested in more St. Louis subjects -- this time to display winter fashion. On a day in which the heat reached 105 degrees, a photographer and Magrane, along with five winter suits, took to the Busch Stadium field and began a photoshoot that lasted over an hour in the oppressive Missouri summer heat. In his book, Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch described Magrane as “sweating like a stuffed pig” as he ran from the field to the clubhouse for an attire change. Several days later, Magrane received another telegram that said “because of your subpar season, we’ve decided not to use your session in GQ.” A day later, a follow up telegram arrived. It read: “Roses are red, violets are blue. You’ve been had. There’s no GQ.” *** While wearing winter knits in 105 degree heat sounds uncomfortable, it probably was nothing for Magrane compared to the pressure on the mound at the Metrodome with the bases now at maximum capacity (in the form of Gaetti, Baylor and his future teammate Brunansky) and Kent Hrbek coming to the plate looking for a meal. People worried about Hrbek. After all, he went 1-for-20 in the ALCS against Detroit. Fans expressed frustration with their team's best run producer's inability to produce. Was the pressure to carry his hometown team -- his childhood rooting interest -- to their first World Series victory be too much? Throughout the regular season, Hrbek did little against left-handed pitching. While he finished with 34 home runs, all but six came against right-handed pitchers and he posted a .225/.290/.370 line against southpaws in 155 plate appearances. So it was no surprise that the first baseman was batting seventh in the game against Magrane. Magrane had been tough on left-handed opponents, limiting them to a .226 average and just one home run. Given that Magrane held the platoon advantage, it shouldn’t come as surprise that Hrbek’s contact on the 0-1 pitch wasn’t solid. The ball hit the ground inches in front of home then again just beyond second base -- a classic Dome ball that found its way between Smith, arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game, and Herr at second to score Gaetti and Baylor, putting the Twins ahead 2-1. “I just looked at it on the TV, and it was a high fastball away,” Hrbek told the Star Tribune. “I was just trying to hit it to the outfield and go to the left field to get the run in. It’s the old Randy Bush theory. You try to swing as hard as you can in case you hit it.” When Steve Lombardozzi walked, the fifth consecutive Twins hitter to reach base, Whitey Herzog emerged to tell Magrane his night was over. Magrane exited to a chorus of “Happy Trails” by Twins fans. Herzog called on the veteran Bob Forsch, in hope of coaxing a double-play grounder out of catcher Tim Laudner. Forsch did get the grounder but the right-handed hitting Lauds was able to will it through the left-side of the infield between Herr and Lindeman, scoring Brunansky from third and loading the bases once again. That’s when outfielder Dan Gladden came to the plate. ****Come back to TwinsDaily.com tomorrow for more of the "1987 Revisited" series**** View full article
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