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  1. No-hitters and perfect games certainly are some of the most entertaining games to watch in baseball. Pitchers have a stressful job on the mound, but they are complemented by another position that sits behind the plate and helps them to get through those moments and games. The catcher is often the forgotten unsung hero of the no-hitters, perfect games, and game-day preparation. Image courtesy of Brad Rempel; USA Today 2018 The battery is an essential component of the game, and catchers are the magicians who orchestrate it all. Let's look at what a catcher does and which Minnesota Twins catchers were the best at each job that a catcher does behind the plate. Terry Steinbach - The Toughest Catcher It's one of the most demanding positions to play on the baseball field: Catchers are constantly beaten up and hit with bats, balls, and sometimes players. They must squat down on their knees for nine or more innings, catching hundreds of pitches of varying speeds, movements, and breaks. A catcher must be in peak physical shape to stay in the game. MLB made a change to emphasize player safety in 2011 after a collision at home plate that saw star catcher Buster Posey suffer a season-ending ankle injury. Before the rule change where a player could no longer run through a catcher, Terry Steinbach was one of the best but most beat-up-on catchers during his time in MLB. Steinbach was no stranger to catching injuries. In 1988 he was hit by a thrown ball during batting practice, suffering five fractures around his left eye and requiring surgery. He also had a collision with future teammate Kirby Puckett just four days after returning from the injured list. Steinbach took a forearm to the jaw from Hall of Famer Cal Ripken during a collision and, later in the season, was hospitalized after taking a hit to the head from pitcher Bobby Thigpen in a contentious, tied late game. Steinbach, a Minnesota native who started his career on the west coast but ended with the Twins, spent 14 seasons behind the plate. As one of the Twins' best catchers, he also had his best season when he came to join the Twins in 1996 with 34 home runs, and his 100 RBI were the most by an Athletics catcher since Mickey Cochrane in 1932. He also caught Eric Milton's no-hitter in May of 1999 before retiring. Joe Mauer - The Best Defensive Catcher The catcher helps dictate the game because they touch the ball on nearly every pitch. They help set the players before the game and let players know where to stand based on different hitters. Crouched behind home plate, they call and receive pitches from the pitcher, frequently field bunts, and throw out runners trying to steal bases. Catchers frame close strikes, blocks balls in the dirt, and react with lightning quickness as the entire game plays out before them. The position requires a rare combination of spryness, strength, durability, and leadership. Joe Mauer, the best Minnesota Twins catcher in history, won three consecutive gold glove awards from 2008 through 2010. He had a lifetime .995 fielding percentage as a catcher and a caught-stealing percentage of 33%. Mauer led AL catchers multiple times in caught-stealing and fielding percentages. Brian Harper - The Modest Catcher It may seem cruel and unfair, but it's the truth. When watching a game, the focus will always be on the pitcher and their performance. Being able to put aside ego and pride is a huge thing for someone in this position. They have to know that while they contribute heavily in many ways, it's ultimately about the pitcher and helping them succeed. Having humility and the ability to selflessly support the staff, unseen, takes a special person, Brian Harper was that Minnesota Twin. Harper spent six of his 16 MLB seasons with the Minnesota Twins. One of the best catchers in the organization, he was the primary catcher behind the plate for the Twins during the early 90s. He and Jack Morris created a duo in two games that would be integral in the Twins winning the 1991 World Series. In Game 4, Harper stood out when he received a perfect relay throw from Puckett and Chuck Knoblauch and endured a massive collision with Lonnie Smith at home plate. He held on to the ball through the clash to secure the out. In Game 7, Harper not only caught all 10 innings of Jack Morris' legendary shutout but also turned the pivotal 3-2-3 double play with Kent Hrbek to end the eighth inning and squelch the Braves' most dangerous scoring threat of the game. Other catchers that have stood out for the Twins are guys like Mitch Garver and A.J. Pierzynski, rare examples of backstops who can really bring it with the bat. As we get ready for 2023, looking at what is coming up, do you think the Twins will ever have another catcher that can do what any of these three brought to the table? View full article
  2. The battery is an essential component of the game, and catchers are the magicians who orchestrate it all. Let's look at what a catcher does and which Minnesota Twins catchers were the best at each job that a catcher does behind the plate. Terry Steinbach - The Toughest Catcher It's one of the most demanding positions to play on the baseball field: Catchers are constantly beaten up and hit with bats, balls, and sometimes players. They must squat down on their knees for nine or more innings, catching hundreds of pitches of varying speeds, movements, and breaks. A catcher must be in peak physical shape to stay in the game. MLB made a change to emphasize player safety in 2011 after a collision at home plate that saw star catcher Buster Posey suffer a season-ending ankle injury. Before the rule change where a player could no longer run through a catcher, Terry Steinbach was one of the best but most beat-up-on catchers during his time in MLB. Steinbach was no stranger to catching injuries. In 1988 he was hit by a thrown ball during batting practice, suffering five fractures around his left eye and requiring surgery. He also had a collision with future teammate Kirby Puckett just four days after returning from the injured list. Steinbach took a forearm to the jaw from Hall of Famer Cal Ripken during a collision and, later in the season, was hospitalized after taking a hit to the head from pitcher Bobby Thigpen in a contentious, tied late game. Steinbach, a Minnesota native who started his career on the west coast but ended with the Twins, spent 14 seasons behind the plate. As one of the Twins' best catchers, he also had his best season when he came to join the Twins in 1996 with 34 home runs, and his 100 RBI were the most by an Athletics catcher since Mickey Cochrane in 1932. He also caught Eric Milton's no-hitter in May of 1999 before retiring. Joe Mauer - The Best Defensive Catcher The catcher helps dictate the game because they touch the ball on nearly every pitch. They help set the players before the game and let players know where to stand based on different hitters. Crouched behind home plate, they call and receive pitches from the pitcher, frequently field bunts, and throw out runners trying to steal bases. Catchers frame close strikes, blocks balls in the dirt, and react with lightning quickness as the entire game plays out before them. The position requires a rare combination of spryness, strength, durability, and leadership. Joe Mauer, the best Minnesota Twins catcher in history, won three consecutive gold glove awards from 2008 through 2010. He had a lifetime .995 fielding percentage as a catcher and a caught-stealing percentage of 33%. Mauer led AL catchers multiple times in caught-stealing and fielding percentages. Brian Harper - The Modest Catcher It may seem cruel and unfair, but it's the truth. When watching a game, the focus will always be on the pitcher and their performance. Being able to put aside ego and pride is a huge thing for someone in this position. They have to know that while they contribute heavily in many ways, it's ultimately about the pitcher and helping them succeed. Having humility and the ability to selflessly support the staff, unseen, takes a special person, Brian Harper was that Minnesota Twin. Harper spent six of his 16 MLB seasons with the Minnesota Twins. One of the best catchers in the organization, he was the primary catcher behind the plate for the Twins during the early 90s. He and Jack Morris created a duo in two games that would be integral in the Twins winning the 1991 World Series. In Game 4, Harper stood out when he received a perfect relay throw from Puckett and Chuck Knoblauch and endured a massive collision with Lonnie Smith at home plate. He held on to the ball through the clash to secure the out. In Game 7, Harper not only caught all 10 innings of Jack Morris' legendary shutout but also turned the pivotal 3-2-3 double play with Kent Hrbek to end the eighth inning and squelch the Braves' most dangerous scoring threat of the game. Other catchers that have stood out for the Twins are guys like Mitch Garver and A.J. Pierzynski, rare examples of backstops who can really bring it with the bat. As we get ready for 2023, looking at what is coming up, do you think the Twins will ever have another catcher that can do what any of these three brought to the table?
  3. Brian Raabe dug into the batter’s box on a Sunday afternoon in September at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. And while the 1995 Twins were out of playoff contention the moment couldn’t have been more significant for Raabe. The 5’9 New Ulm, Minnesota native was making his Major League debut for his home state team. Raabe had been preparing for this moment his entire life. A scrappy and consistent hitter, the second baseman had been an All-American for the Minnesota Golden Gophers with talent that earned him a 41st round pick from the Minnesota Twins in the 1990 MLB draft. After consecutive years of batting north of the .300 mark in the minors, Raabe received the late season call-up that every boy dreams of. Perhaps the most special essence of the moment? The catcher squatting behind Raabe was fellow Gophers standout and New Ulm native Terry Steinbach. "How the heck does that happen?" Raabe popped out and the Oakland Athletics went on to defeat the Twins 4-1. But for the small town Minnesota kid, a lifelong goal shaped by hard work, mentors, and a dream had come to fruition. The Mecca of Minnesota Baseball Like most small town kids, Brian Raabe grew up playing a variety of sports. And while he was talented at many, baseball stuck. “Most kids could hit a ball off a tee when they were a few years old. My dad was able to flip it to me and I could hit it,” Brian recalled. Brian wasn’t the only baseball player on the block in New Ulm. Despite being a town of roughly 10,000, the south-central Minnesota community has groomed some of the finest baseball players in the state’s history, many of whom were Raabe’s role models growing up. Players like Tim, Tom, and Terry Steinbach, Doug Palmer, and Jeff Schugel influenced Raabe’s love of the game from a young age. “Those guys were older than me but young enough where I would get to know them and watch them play,” Raabe said. “They played at Johnson Park for years and years and I ended up getting to be bat boys for them a few times." In a small community of baseball excellence with unique talent, the game wasn’t just a hobby for Raabe, it was a way of life. “There weren’t many lakes in the area so if it was a nice night you’d go and watch a baseball game,” Raabe said. “Instead of playing on the hill I was one of those kids who watched the game, asked my dad questions, and was mesmerized by it.” Raabe’s growing love of the game was rooted in the strong baseball culture that New Ulm had cultivated. Talented players like the Steinbach’s and legendary high school coach Jim Senske paved a mindset for Brian that ‘making it’ wasn’t a million dollar dream, it was a reality. “I was able to say, ‘if they can do it, why can’t I?,’” Raabe said. A Jack of all Trades Now 53, Raabe serves as the baseball coach at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Despite putting up incredible minor league numbers, his career in the MLB was limited to three seasons and a total of 33 at bats between time in Minnesota, Seattle and Colorado. Don’t let that fool you on how Raabe reflects on his career. “I have no hard feelings at all, I’m a coach, I understand it,” Raabe said. “That’s life.” Yet instead of bitterness and remorse Raabe is filled with emotions of thankfulness, joy, and gratitude. Through his nine years in professional baseball Raabe got to check a wealth of opportunities off the board that most players only dream of, a list that speaks for itself. Played with Paul Molitor when he got his 3,000th hit Was on the team when Kirby Puckett played his final baseball game Was Derek Jeter’s double play partner in the Arizona Fall League Played against (and almost homered over) Michael Jordan Was on the 1997 Mariners with Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and MVP Ken Griffey Jr. Played alongside 2020 Hall of Famers Larry Walker and Derek Jeter A pretty damn impressive list. After the 1999 season with the Yankees’ AAA affiliate Columbus Clippers, Raabe had a decision to make. The Bronx Bombers had offered Raabe a healthy contract to continue in the organization following the season. Brian had a more important contract on his mind back at home, one that was worth more than money; his daughter Brianna and son Zachary, both young kids. “I had a son and daughter that were playing sports and were young and I wanted to be around them,” Raabe said. “I decided that I wanted to be a dad and if I had to do it 100 times again I’d do it the same way.” Brian’s decision to leave professional baseball wasn’t easy, but it was far from a goodbye to the sport that had gifted him some of his greatest memories. As his kids began to grow so did Brian’s coaching background, coaching both Zach and Brianna in their respective sports. Similar to his dad, Zach took a love of America’s Pastime at a young age. As Zach grew in knowledge and skill, Brian helped mentor his son by coaching the game that he loved; something that benefited Brian as a parent and coach. “ (After professional baseball) I went in a different direction, still in baseball, but coaching youth, then high school and now college baseball. It was well worth it,” Brian said. Dream Weaver Brian Raabe’s son Zach is now the starting second baseman for the Gophers and one of the most talented collegiate players in the country, following in his dad’s footsteps. Dad Brian is just across the Mississippi, a short drive away from Siebert Field to watch Zach play. In the meantime he’s turned Bethel into a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) powerhouse, propelling the Royals to a 2018 MIAC title. And while Raabe's time in professional baseball is in the rearview mirror, he will never forget the memories that evolved from a childhood dream. “My goal was to play college baseball at the University of Minnesota and my dream was to get drafted by the Minnesota Twins and that came true,” Raabe said. “I got to play with some great players, the best part to me? It all started in New Ulm, Minnesota.”
  4. February 25 Happy 57th Birthday, Dana Kiecker It’s the birthday of 1979 Fairfax High School and 1983 St. Cloud State graduate Dana Kiecker, born in Sleepy Eye in 1961. Kiecker was chosen by the Red Sox in the eighth round of the 1983 Draft. He made his major league debut on April 12, 1990 at age 29, pitching four innings of relief in a Red Sox loss at Tiger Stadium. Kiecker pitched in 50 major league games for Boston between 1990 and ‘91, making 30 starts, compiling a 10-12 record with a 4.68 ERA. He made two starts at the Metrodome in 1990. He gave up a home run to Dan Gladden on his second pitch of the game on May 27. He recovered to pitch seven strong innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk before being relieved by Jeff Reardon. Twins rookie Kevin Tapani, however, was better. After putting runners on second and third to start the game, Tapani struck out the next three batters, including cleanup hitter Tom Brunansky, to get out of one heckuva jam. He went on to hold the Red Sox to just one run over seven innings. Rick Aguilera earned the six-out save. He made his second Metrodome start on July 5, opposing Scott Erickson in his third big league game. Kiecker allowed two runs on five hits and four walks over 5.2 innings, taking a no-decision in a 7-4 Red Sox loss. He gave up a three-run home run to fellow southwest Minnesotan Terry Steinbach in the top of the first on September 3, 1990. That blow knocked Kiecker out of the game, having given up five runs to Oakland while only recording two outs. Jim Eisenreich and Kiecker are the only pair of St. Cloud State alumni to play against each other in the major leagues. Eisenreich went 4-for-8 with a walk and two doubles versus Kiecker between 1990 and 1991. They were teammates at St. Cloud in 1980, along with Bob Hegman, who played half an inning in the field for the Kansas City Royals on August 8, 1985. "Dana Kiecker Street" is home to the Fairfax townball field. I've never been there, but it is allegedly a particularly beautiful ballpark. You can hear Kiecker on St. Paul Saints broadcasts this summer. February 26, 1933 Birthdate of Johnny Blanchard It’s the birthdate of probably the most famous backup catcher in baseball history, Johnny Blanchard, born 85 years ago in Minneapolis. Blanchard attended Minneapolis’s De LaSalle and Central High Schools, playing football, basketball, and baseball. He got a thimble of coffee with the Yankees in 1955, playing in the second game of a doubleheader on the final day of the season. He made it back to the majors in 1959, where he would remain for the next seven seasons, making a nice little career of backing up Yogi Berra and Elston Howard. He would appear in five World Series as a Yankee. The highlight of his career came in the 1961 World Series when he hit .400 with two home runs as the Yankees defeated the Cincinnati Reds in five games. Blanchard would earn a second ring in 1962. He tied a major league record by homering in four consecutive at-bats in 1961. Of course in true “Suber Sub” fashion, those four consecutive at-bats came over a six-day span. Blanchard hit a game-winning two-out pinch-hit grand slam at Fenway Park on July 21, 1961. He hit another pinch-hit homer the next day, and then sat out the next three games. He made a rare start on July 26 vs. the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium, homering in his first two at-bats and flying out to the wall in his third. Blanchard played 18 games at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington between 1961 and '65, going 13-for-51 (.255) with seven walks, and three home runs. He hit .222 with seven home runs in 38 games against the Twins overall. Blanchard was a featured guest at Halsey Hall SABR meetings on October 24, 1992 and October 18, 2008. He died of a heart attack at North Memorial in Robbinsdale on March 25, 2009. He was 76 years old. 2018 will be John's son Paul Blanchard's 22nd season as head baseball coach at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. He has been known to make guest lecturer appearances on campus, sometimes even passing around his father's World Series ring. George Rekela wrote about Johnny Blanchard for the book Minnesotans in Baseball (click here). February 26 Happy 60th Birthday, Bob Hegman It’s the birthday of 1976 Sauk Rapids-Rice graduate, St. Cloud State all-time great, former Royals second baseman, and current Twins scout Bob Hegman, born in Springfield, MN in 1958. Hegman improved steadily at the plate during his four years at St. Cloud State, hitting .203 in 1977, .288 in 1978, .372 in 1979, and .381 in 1980. He was 24-for-24 in stolen base attempts over his final three seasons at St. Cloud. He was also a four-year starting point guard on the Huskies basketball team. Hegman was selected by the Royals in the 15th round of the 1980 draft, and reported to their Gulf Coast League team in Florida. He returned to St. Cloud in the offseason and graduated with a degree in Business Management in 1981. Hegman got into his only major league game on August 8, 1985 at age 27, entering as a defensive replacement in the top of the ninth of 10-3 win over Chicago. He did not get the ball hit to him, and did not get an at-bat. Sound familiar? Longtime Chisolm doctor "Moonlight" Graham's major league career also consisted of half an inning in the field on June 29, 1905. I asked Mr. Hegman about the circumstances of his brief stint in the majors. He (specifically his glove) was called up when 1978 first-round draft pick Buddy Biancalana was hampered by an injury, and sent back to Omaha the moment Biancalana was healthy. The Royals went on to win the 1985 World Series. No, Hegman did not receive a ring. In total, Hegman played seven seasons of professional baseball. He joined the Royals front office as an assistant to the Scouting and Player Development Directors in September 1986. In 1992 he was named Director of Minor League Operations, a position he held for ten years. He became an Advance Scout for the Twins in 2003 before moving into his current position of Professional Scout (evaluating pro players) in 2008. Hegman has made his home in the Kansas City area since 1986. 1956 National League All-Star Rip Repulski also attended Sauk Rapids-Rice High School. February 27 Happy 34th Birthday, Denard Span It's the birthday of former Twins center fielder Denard Span, born in Tampa, FL in 1984. Even though it doesn't say so on the Twins' website (see for yourself), Span tied Ken Landreaux's team record and the major league record with three triples at Target Field on June 29, 2010. He went 4-for-4 with a walk, five RBI, and two runs scored in an 11-4 win over Detroit. Jim Thome hit his 572nd home run in the game. February 28, 1887 Birthdate of Joe Fautsch It's the birthdate of Joe Fautsch, born 131 years ago in Minneapolis. He got into one major league game with the Chicago White Sox on April 24, 1916 at age 29, going 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter. According to Baseball Reference, he played for the Red Wing Manufacturers in 1910, and the Winona Pirates in 1913 and '14. He passed away in New Hope on March 16, 1971 at age 84, and is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Minneapolis. If you have any knowledge about Joe Fautsch to share, please leave a comment, or email Matt@TwinsAlmanac.com. February 28, 1909 Birthdate of Lefty Bertrand It's the birthdate of Lefty Bertrand, born 109 years ago in Cobden, MN. Bertrand attended St. Mary's High School in Sleepy Eye. Baseball Reference lists him as having attended St. Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona, but I believe that is a mistake. Bertrand got into one major league game with the Phillies on April 15, 1936 at age 27, pitching the final two innings of a 12-4 loss to the Boston Bees. He gave up two runs on three hits (including a home run), and two walks while striking out one. That's still a better major league record that fellow St. Mary's alumnus Fred Bruckbauer, who gave up three runs without recording an out in his only outing with the Twins on April 25, 1961. If you're looking for a Twins connection in Bertrand's only big league outing, he gave up a single to Sam Mele's uncle Tony Cuccinello. Lefty Bertrand broke into pro ball with the Class D Northern League Brainerd Muskies in 1933. That team moved to Brandon, Manitoba on June 27 and became the Grays. In 1934 he was back with the reformed Brainerd-Little Falls Muskies. Winona native Julie Wera, who played some third base for the '27 Yankees, wrapped up his pro career with the Northern League Crookston Pirates in 1937. As with Joe Fautsch (or anyone/thing else on the Almanac, for that matter), if you have knowledge to share, please get in touch. March 2, 1916 Birthdate of Mickey Rocco It's the birthdate of St. Paul Central alumnus and former Cleveland first baseman Mickey Rocco, born 102 years ago in St. Paul. In addition to baseball, Rocco also played basketball, and was a violinist in the St. Paul Central school orchestra according to biographer Gregg Omoth. After spending time in the Pirates, Braves, White Sox, Dodgers, and Tigers organizations, Rocco made his major league debut with Cleveland at Philadelphia's Shibe Park on June 5, 1943 at age 27. He went 2-for-4 with a triple, double, RBI, and run scored in a 6-5 loss to the Athletics. He started 107 of Cleveland's remaining 114 games that season (they played 153 total). Rocco led the American League and tied for the major league lead with 653 at-bats in 1944. As a townball player, myself, I think this is a really cool stat. I'm always trying to find ways to get some swings in, including supervising 6 AM high school practices so that maybe I'll get a few pitches at the end. How cool would it be to be able to say you got more at-bats than anybody else in the American League? In total, Rocco played 440 games over four seasons with Cleveland, with his final major league game coming on June 24, 1946 at age 30. He hit .258 with 30 home runs. He stuck it out in the minors through 1952. He remained active in baseball, coaching various Twin Cities teams throughout the '50s and '60s. According to biographer Gregg Omoth "a Rosetown team he coached won the Minnesota Legion championship in 1965." Mickey Rocco passed away on June 1, 1997 at age 81. He was laid to rest at Roselawn Cemetary in Roseville. For a much more thorough picture of Rocco, read Gregg Omoth's biography, originally published in the SABR book Who's on First: Replacement Players in World War II (click here). March 2 Happy 67th Birthday, Mike Johnson It’s the birthday of 1969 Faribault High School graduate and former San Diego Padres pitcher Mike Johnson, born in Slayton, MN in 1951. Johnson was signed by Cincinnati Reds scout Bill Clark out of his annual tryout camp at Bell Field in Faribault. Johnson made his major league debut versus Atlanta on July 25, 1974 at age 23, entering with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth of a scoreless game. He induced an inning-ending ground ball from Davey Johnson. He walked Darrell Evans leading off the bottom of the tenth, and Dusty Baker bunted Evans up to second. The Padres then intentionally walked Mike Lum to set up a potential inning-ending double play. It was not to be, however, as Rowland Office came through with a walk-off single. After pitching a 1-2-3 top of the tenth, Tom House—throwing guru to the stars, including Nolan Ryan and Tom Brady—earned the win for Atlanta. In total, Johnson pitched 21.1 innings over 18 relief appearances, giving up 13 runs (11 earned) on 29 hits and 15 walks while striking out 15. He went 0-2 with a 2.063 WHIP and 4.64 ERA. It was his final season of professional baseball. He returned to Faribault where he pitched for the Lakers townball team. March 2 Happy 56th Birthday, Terry Steinbach It’s the birthday of 1980 New Ulm High School graduate, Golden Gopher all-time great, and three-time American League All-Star Terry Steinbach, born in New Ulm in 1962. Here’s a fun story: the Gophers moved hotshot Edina third baseman Greg Olson to catcher to make room for up-and-coming New Ulm third baseman Terry Steinbach. Steinbach was later converted to catcher in the Oakland A’s organization to make room for third baseman Mark McGwire. McGwire, of course, ultimately wound up at first base while Olson and Steinbach each developed into All-Star major league catchers. Steinbach made his major league debut in Cleveland on September 12, 1986 at age 24. With Oakland trailing 8-2, Steinbach entered as a defensive replacement for Mickey Tettleton in the bottom of the sixth. He led off the top of the seventh with a home run off Greg Swindell in his first big league at-bat. Steinbach and Swindell would be teammates with the Twins in 1997 and '98. 1976 Park Center grad Tim Laudner also homered in his first major league game on August 28, 1981. After being maligned by the press as an unworthy starter in 1988, Steinbach homered in his first All-Star at-bat. He later hit a sacrifice fly to lead the American League to a 2–1 victory and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. The AL only carried two catchers in the game, the other being Tim Laudner. Steinbach was also an All-Star in 1989 and 1993. Steinbach hit an Opening Day grand slam when I was in fourth grade (1994). I know this because Mel Allen told me so on This Week in Baseball. I commemorated the event with a crayon drawing that stayed on the fridge for a few months. Steinbach played for the Twins his final three season, from 1997 to 1999. He caught Eric Milton's no-hitter at the Metrodome on September 11, 1999. He had previously caught Dave Stewart's no-hitter while playing for Oakland in Toronto on June 29, 1990. Altogether Steinbach played 14 major league seasons, hitting .271 with 1,453 hits and 162 home runs. Steinbach coached the Wayzata High School baseball team from 2008 to 2012. The Twins hired him as bench coach for the 2013 season, succeeding Steve Liddle. He was not retained when Paul Molitor took over as manager in 2015. March 2 Happy 35th Birthday, Glen Perkins It’s the birthday of 2001 Stillwater Area High School graduate, Golden Gophers all-time great, and former Twins closer Glen Perkins, born in St. Paul in 1983. After redshirting in 2002, Perkins played for the Gophers in 2003 and 2004, going 19-5 with a 2.87 ERA, 13 complete games, two shutouts and 230 strikeouts in 216.1 innings. Perkins set a new Gophers single-season strikeout record in 2003 with 117 in 105.1 innings. He gave his own record a run for it’s money in 2004 with 113 strikeouts in 111.1 innings. Those innings pitched, incidentally, were the second and fifth most in school history. Perkins was named the 2004 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. The Twins drafted Perkins in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2004 draft. He made his major league debut in September 2006 at age 23, the same season as fellow Gopher Jack Hannahan. He made the American League All-Star team in 2013, ‘14 and ‘15, saving 30+ games each of those three seasons. Hampered by a labrum injury, Perkins only made 10 appearances between 2016 and 2017. He retired in January 2018. In total, he pitched in 409 major league games (44 starts) over parts of 12 seasons. His 120 saves rank third in Twins history behind Joe Nathan and Rick Aguilera, and four saves ahead of Eddie Guardado. March 3, 1895 Birthdate of Joe Jaeger It's the birthdate of former Cubs pitcher Joe Jaeger, born 123 years ago in St. Cloud. Jaeger made two relief appearances with the Cubs in September 1920 at age 25, giving up six runs (four earned) on six hits and four walks. Jaeger passed away on December 13, 1963 in Hampton, IA. He was 68 years old. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
  5. I am a 32-year-old student of the game and aspiring baseball writer, born and raised in Zimmerman, MN. I am a ‘02 graduate of the Elk River Area High School. Yes, I was there in 2000, albeit as the backup catcher, when Paul Feiner dealt Joe Mauer the one and only strikeout of his high school career.I recently began a project called Major Minnesotans, telling the stories of the major leaguers who grew up in Minnesota. From the time I was a kindergartener learning to read by studying the backs of 1990 Topps cards, I have been fascinated by the few Minnesotans who have made it to the majors. The genesis of this project, I suppose, is an album of baseball cards of major league Minnesotans that I began putting together about a year ago. As I researched the cards that I would need to assemble to make this album as comprehensive as possible, I stumbled upon one fascinating story after another. Furthermore, I realized that these are stories that hadn't already been rehashed every which way. I don’t have many original insights to offer by way of prognostication or parsing sabermetrics. These stories though, they are that elusive niche I’d been looking for since giving up my Reader Weekly column years ago. The details available in 2016 are mind-boggling. For instance, you can look up Dan Smith (Apple Valley class of ‘87) on Baseball Reference, click “Debut,” scroll down to play by play and see that the first big league batter he faced, Devon White, dropped down a bunt single, promptly stole second, was moved to third by a Roberto Alomar sacrifice bunt, and scored on a Joe Carter sac fly. Welcome to the big leagues, am I right? Incidentally, you will also notice that Smith was opposed in his MLB debut by St. Paul-native, Jack Morris. Does anyone else remember digging through the library basement to do the kind of research you can now do on your phone from anywhere? Another fun fact gleaned from the play-by-play on Baseball Reference is that Greg Olson (Edina East class of ‘79) made his major league debut with Minnesota in 1989, pinch-hitting for Kent Hrbek (Bloomington Kennedy class of ‘78) and replacing Tim Laudner (Park Center class of ‘76) behind the plate. Laudner took over at first. The fact that Greg Olson was playing catcher in the first place is another interesting story. Olson was a third baseman in high school. The Gophers converted him to catcher to make room for third baseman, Terry Steinbach (New Ulm class of 1980). Steinbach was in turn converted to catcher while in the Oakland organization to make room for up-and-coming third baseman, Mark McGwire. Olson went on to become an NL All-Star catcher in 1990, while Terry Steinbach was a 3x All-Star catcher in the American League. McGwire, of course, moved across the diamond and became a 12x All-Star first baseman. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160131_092041_zpswgeabeti.jpg Briefly a resident of Duluth, like myself, Jerry Ujdur is another major league Minnesotan who caught my attention. Second in career wins at the University of Minnesota, Ujdur went on to a brief, wholly unremarkable major league career. A deeper look at his Baseball Reference page, though, shows that he was peculiarly successful against several Hall of Famers: Major Minnesotans will publish its first article on March 17th, the birthday of Washburn High School graduate, Hy Vandenberg, who pitched in the major leagues from 1935 to 1945. For a more succinct look at the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, like Major Minnesotans on Facebook (Facebook.com/MajorMinnesotans), and follow me on Twitter @MajorMinnesota. In addition to Major Minnesotans, I have also started The Twins Almanac, telling the story of the Minnesota Twins one day at a time. The Twins Almanac will revolve around a weekly compendium of Twins history, and also include occasional pieces on specific items of Twins history. Here is a foretaste of The Twins Almanac for the week of April 3rd-9th: 4/3/82: The Twins beat the Phillies 5-0 in an exhibition game, the first major league game played at the Metrodome. Pete Rose collects the first hit, and Bloomington-native Kent Hrbek hits the Dome’s first two homers. 4/4/90: The Twins trade future-KARE 11 anchor, Mike Pomeranz, to Pittsburgh in exchange for Junior Ortiz and a minor league pitcher. Ortiz, who wore #0, is best-remembered as Scott Erickson’s personal catcher during the Twins’ 1991 World Championship season. 4/5/14: The Twins beat Cleveland 7-3 for Ron Gardenhire’s 1,000th managerial win. 4/6 is the birthday of Rik Aalbert “Bert” Blyleven... A little more about myself: my baseball career peaked in 1998 when, at age 15. I threw 18 strikeouts over 10 innings in an 11 inning loss. I majored in English at Gustavus Adolphus College where I took all the classes I could from Minnesota’s current Poet Laureate, Joyce Sutphen. The first piece I ever wrote outside of school, an interview with and profile of the poet Louis Jenkins, made the cover of Duluth's Reader Weekly. My second piece, on the musician Charlie Parr, was also the cover. Nearly a decade later I started Major Minnesotans and The Twins Almanac. For two sample Major Minnesotans articles and The Twins Almanac for the week of April 3rd to the 9th, visit my WordPress site at MajorMinnesotans.WordPress.com. Thank you, Matt http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160316_173242_zpsw33tqxhy.jpg Click here to view the article
  6. I recently began a project called Major Minnesotans, telling the stories of the major leaguers who grew up in Minnesota. From the time I was a kindergartener learning to read by studying the backs of 1990 Topps cards, I have been fascinated by the few Minnesotans who have made it to the majors. The genesis of this project, I suppose, is an album of baseball cards of major league Minnesotans that I began putting together about a year ago. As I researched the cards that I would need to assemble to make this album as comprehensive as possible, I stumbled upon one fascinating story after another. Furthermore, I realized that these are stories that hadn't already been rehashed every which way. I don’t have many original insights to offer by way of prognostication or parsing sabermetrics. These stories though, they are that elusive niche I’d been looking for since giving up my Reader Weekly column years ago. The details available in 2016 are mind-boggling. For instance, you can look up Dan Smith (Apple Valley class of ‘87) on Baseball Reference, click “Debut,” scroll down to play by play and see that the first big league batter he faced, Devon White, dropped down a bunt single, promptly stole second, was moved to third by a Roberto Alomar sacrifice bunt, and scored on a Joe Carter sac fly. Welcome to the big leagues, am I right? Incidentally, you will also notice that Smith was opposed in his MLB debut by St. Paul-native, Jack Morris. Does anyone else remember digging through the library basement to do the kind of research you can now do on your phone from anywhere? Another fun fact gleaned from the play-by-play on Baseball Reference is that Greg Olson (Edina East class of ‘79) made his major league debut with Minnesota in 1989, pinch-hitting for Kent Hrbek (Bloomington Kennedy class of ‘78) and replacing Tim Laudner (Park Center class of ‘76) behind the plate. Laudner took over at first. The fact that Greg Olson was playing catcher in the first place is another interesting story. Olson was a third baseman in high school. The Gophers converted him to catcher to make room for third baseman, Terry Steinbach (New Ulm class of 1980). Steinbach was in turn converted to catcher while in the Oakland organization to make room for up-and-coming third baseman, Mark McGwire. Olson went on to become an NL All-Star catcher in 1990, while Terry Steinbach was a 3x All-Star catcher in the American League. McGwire, of course, moved across the diamond and became a 12x All-Star first baseman. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160131_092041_zpswgeabeti.jpg Briefly a resident of Duluth, like myself, Jerry Ujdur is another major league Minnesotan who caught my attention. Second in career wins at the University of Minnesota, Ujdur went on to a brief, wholly unremarkable major league career. A deeper look at his Baseball Reference page, though, shows that he was peculiarly successful against several Hall of Famers: Major Minnesotans will publish its first article on March 17th, the birthday of Washburn High School graduate, Hy Vandenberg, who pitched in the major leagues from 1935 to 1945. For a more succinct look at the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, like Major Minnesotans on Facebook (Facebook.com/MajorMinnesotans), and follow me on Twitter @MajorMinnesota. In addition to Major Minnesotans, I have also started The Twins Almanac, telling the story of the Minnesota Twins one day at a time. The Twins Almanac will revolve around a weekly compendium of Twins history, and also include occasional pieces on specific items of Twins history. Here is a foretaste of The Twins Almanac for the week of April 3rd-9th: 4/3/82: The Twins beat the Phillies 5-0 in an exhibition game, the first major league game played at the Metrodome. Pete Rose collects the first hit, and Bloomington-native Kent Hrbek hits the Dome’s first two homers. 4/4/90: The Twins trade future-KARE 11 anchor, Mike Pomeranz, to Pittsburgh in exchange for Junior Ortiz and a minor league pitcher. Ortiz, who wore #0, is best-remembered as Scott Erickson’s personal catcher during the Twins’ 1991 World Championship season. 4/5/14: The Twins beat Cleveland 7-3 for Ron Gardenhire’s 1,000th managerial win. 4/6 is the birthday of Rik Aalbert “Bert” Blyleven... A little more about myself: my baseball career peaked in 1998 when, at age 15. I threw 18 strikeouts over 10 innings in an 11 inning loss. I majored in English at Gustavus Adolphus College where I took all the classes I could from Minnesota’s current Poet Laureate, Joyce Sutphen. The first piece I ever wrote outside of school, an interview with and profile of the poet Louis Jenkins, made the cover of Duluth's Reader Weekly. My second piece, on the musician Charlie Parr, was also the cover. Nearly a decade later I started Major Minnesotans and The Twins Almanac. For two sample Major Minnesotans articles and The Twins Almanac for the week of April 3rd to the 9th, visit my WordPress site at MajorMinnesotans.WordPress.com. Thank you, Matt http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160316_173242_zpsw33tqxhy.jpg
  7. I am a 32 year old student of the game and aspiring baseball writer, born and raised in Zimmerman, MN. I am a ‘02 graduate of the Elk River Area High School. Yes, I was there in 2000 -- albeit as the backup catcher -- when Paul Feiner dealt Joe Mauer the one and only strikeout of his high school career. I recently began a project called Major Minnesotans, telling the stories of the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota. From the time I was a kindergartener learning to read by studying the backs of 1990 Topps cards, I have been fascinated by the few Minnesotans who have made it to the Majors. The genesis of this project, I suppose, is an album of baseball cards of Major League Minnesotans that I began putting together about a year ago. As I researched the cards that I would need to assemble to make this album as comprehensive as possible, I stumbled upon one fascinating story after another. Furthermore, I realized that these are stories that haven’t already been rehashed every which way. I don’t have many original insights to offer by way of prognostication or parsing sabermetrics. These stories, though, they are that elusive niche I’d been looking for since giving up my Reader Weekly column years ago. The details available in 2016 are mindboggling. For instance, you can look up Dan Smith (Apple Valley class of ‘87) on Baseball Reference, click “Debut,” scroll down to play by play and see that the first Big League batter he faced, Devon White, dropped down a bunt single, promptly stole second, was moved to third by a Roberto Alomar sacrifice bunt, and scored on a Joe Carter sac fly. Welcome to the Big Leagues, am I right? Incidentally, you will also notice that Smith was opposed in his MLB debut by St. Paul-native, Jack Morris. Does anyone else remember digging through the library basement to do the kind of research you can now do on your phone from anywhere? Another fun fact gleaned from the play by play on Baseball Reference is that Greg Olson (Edina East class of ‘79) made his Major League debut with Minnesota in 1989, pinch-hitting for Kent Hrbek (Bloomington Kennedy class of ‘78) and replacing Tim Laudner (Park Center class of ‘76) behind the plate. Laudner took over at first. The fact that Greg Olson was playing catcher in the first place is another interesting story. Olson was a third baseman in high school. The Gophers converted him to catcher to make room for third baseman, Terry Steinbach (New Ulm class of 1980). Steinbach was in turn converted to catcher while in the Oakland organization to make room for up-and-coming third baseman, Mark McGwire. Olson went on to become an NL All-Star catcher in 1990, while Terry Steinbach was a 3x All-Star catcher in the American League. McGwire, of course, moved across the diamond and became a 12x All-Star first baseman. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160131_092041_zpswgeabeti.jpg Briefly a resident of Duluth, myself, Jerry Ujdur is another Major League Minnesotan who caught my attention. 2nd in career wins at the University of Minnesota, Ujdur went on to a brief, wholly unremarkable Major League career. A deeper look at his Baseball Reference page, though, shows that he was peculiarly successful against several Hall of Famers: Major Minnesotans will publish its first article on March 17th, the birthday of Washburn High School graduate, Hy Vandenberg, who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1935 to 1945. For a more succinct look at the Major Leaguers who grew up in Minnesota, like Major Minnesotans on Facebook (Facebook.com/MajorMinnesotans), and follow me on Twitter @MajorMinnesota. In addition to Major Minnesotans, I have also started The Twins Almanac, telling the story of the Minnesota Twins one day at a time. The Twins Almanac will revolve around a weekly compendium of Twins history, and also include occasional pieces on specific items of Twins history. Here is a foretaste of The Twins Almanac for the week of April 3rd-9th: 4/3/82: The Twins beat the Phillies 5-0 in an exhibition game, the first Major League game played at the Metrodome. Pete Rose collects the first hit, and Bloomington-native Kent Hrbek hits the Dome’s first two homers. 4/4/90: The Twins trade future-KARE 11 anchor, Mike Pomeranz, to Pittsburgh in exchange for Junior Ortiz and a minor league pitcher. Ortiz, who wore #0, is best-remembered as Scott Erickson’s personal catcher during the Twins’ 1991 World Championship season. 4/5/14: The Twins beat Cleveland 7-3 for Ron Gardenhire’s 1,000th managerial win. 4/6 is the birthday of Rik Aalbert “Bert” Blyleven... A little more about myself: my baseball career peaked in 1998 when, at age 15, I threw 18 strikeouts over 10 innings in an 11 inning loss. I majored in English at Gustavus Adolphus College where I took all the classes I could from Minnesota’s current Poet Laureate, Joyce Sutphen. The first piece I ever wrote outside of school, an interview with and profile of the poet Louis Jenkins, made the cover of Duluth's Reader Weekly. My second piece, on the musician Charlie Parr, was also the cover. Nearly a decade later I started Major Minnesotans and The Twins Almanac. For two sample Major Minnesotans articles and The Twins Almanac for the week of April 3rd to the 9th, visit my WordPress site at MajorMinnesotans.WordPress.com. Thank you, Matt http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160316_173242_zpsw33tqxhy.jpg
  8. Late Monday morning, the news came out that the Minnesota Twins had fired manager Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire has been offered a job in the organization, but he says that he wants to manage again and believes that he will. So the next question naturally becomes; who will be the next manager of the Minnesota Twins?Here is a quick look at some of the potential candidates, though it is always important to note that a surprise candidate could come out of nowhere. There are several qualified internal candidates, though Terry Ryan insists that they will do their due diligence and look outside the organization as well. Internal Candidates Terry Steinbach – In my mind, he became the possible front-runner within the last week. I believe he may also be a top candidate for the Arizona Diamondbacks. His former Oakland A’s manager Tony Larussa is in charge of baseball operations and his former rotation-mate Dave Stewart was just named as the General Manager. However, there are a lot in the Twins organization that really like him as a managerial candidate. The 52-year-old from New Ulm played for the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Oakland A’s. He spent parts of 14 seasons in the big leagues, the final three with the Twins. He has been Gardenhire’s bench coach the last two seasons. Paul Molitor – Of course, most have believed that Molitor would be the next Twins manager for a couple of years already. He was added to the Twins staff a year ago after being a roving minor league instructor for several seasons. He has been a hitting coach in the big leagues, though that didn’t go so well. The 58-year-old from St. Paul has worked with the minor leaguers that are likely to be part of the next Twins core. Molitor was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2004 following a 21-year big league career during which he had over 3,300 hits and played in seven All Star games. Gene Glynn – Glynn was named Minnesota’s first Mr. Basketball in 1975 when he was the top hoops player in the state while playing at Waseca high school. He never played in the big leagues after seven seasons of playing minor league ball, including three years at AAA. He has had a variety of roles in baseball. He was a long-time manager and coach in the minor leagues. He was a base coach for the Rockies, the Expos, the Cubs and the Giants over the course of a dozen years. Before becoming the Twins AAA manager, he spent six years as a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays. He has done a great job in Rochester taking a revolving door of players and making them playoff contenders. Doug Mientkiewicz – “Dougie Baseball” was drafted by the Twins in the fifth round of the 1995 draft and stayed in the organization until he was traded to the Red Sox and won a World Series championship in 2004. He spent time with the Mets, Royals, Yankees, Pirates and Dodgers from 2005 through 2009. His best years were clearly with the Twins. Known for his fire and his glove, Mientkiewicz won a Gold Glove at first base in 2001 and was a big part of the group that came up in the late ‘90s and the early playoff teams last decade. He returned to the organization a year ago as the manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle. In his first year, he went to the playoffs, but he also got into a fight with the opposing manager in a game. He has worked with most of the Twins top prospects and led this year’s squad to the Florida State League title. If you believe being able to relate to today’s players is important, Mientkiewicz is just 40 years old and only been retired for five years. Jake Mauer – Some will laugh that this name is on the list, but Mauer should manage in the big leagues. If not now, someday. For those that choose to look only at that last name and not the qualifications, it’s just too bad. Mauer is a very good baseball person. He was a leader on that St. Thomas baseball teams that won Division III titles. He spent five seasons playing the minor leagues, peaking at Double-A, and playing a variety of positions. After spring training of 2006, he retired and immediately became a coach. He managed in the GCL for a couple of years before becoming the manager at Ft. Myers. In 2013, the organization made the decision to move him to Cedar Rapids to lead the group of young, very talented prospects. Known for having a very high baseball IQ and being three or four batters ahead of the game, Mauer protects his players while maintaining a calm about him. He is also known to be External Candidates Chip Hale – 49-year-old Hale was one of the better pinch hitters for the Twins in the ‘90s. The Twins drafted him in the 17th round in 1987 out of the University of Arizona. He spent time with the Twins in 1989 and 1990, and then he returned to the Twins in 1993 and stayed through 1996. He never played more than 85 games in a season or had more than 186 plate appearances. He was a second baseman who became a utility player but mainly was a pinch hitter. He got 12 at bats with the Dodgers in 1997. Since 2006, he has spent time in the big leagues as a coach with the Diamondbacks and Mets. He has been the third base coach for the A’s the last four seasons. He has been a managerial candidate for many positions over the last four or five offseasons. Dave Martinez – Martinez had a terrific 16 season big league career as an outfielder for the Cubs, Expos and seven other teams. He was a starter for several years and became a valued bench bat later in his career. The 50-year-old has been the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays since the 2008 season. Martinez was always known as a smart ball player, but much of the interest in Martinez would appear to be his association with Rays manager Joe Maddon who is generally considered one of baseball’s best. Martinez has put in his time and deserves to see what he can do on his own. Torey Lovullo – Lovullo was a Tigers prospect in the late 80s. He hit .381 as a 22-year-old in a September call up in 1988, but he was never able to become the player many thought he would. He spent big league time with seven teams over eight seasons from 1988 through 1999. He became a minor league coach in 2001 and was a manager in the Clevelend system. He was John Farrell’s bench coach in Toronto in 2011 and 2012 and followed him to the Red Sox in 2013 in the same capacity. He is 49 years old and has no major league managerial experience, though he has interviewed for several managerial jobs, including the Cubs job a year ago. Joe McEwing – The 41-year-old McEwing spent nine seasons in the big leagues. In that time, he played over 45 games at seven different positions, all but pitcher and catcher. In 2008, he entered the world of coaching. He became a manager in 2009 in A-Ball and then moved up to AAA in 2011 (he coached Eduardo Escobar in 2010 and 2011) Following that season, he was the manager of the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League where he coached Brian Dozier, Aaron Hicks and Chris Herrmann. Dozier gave McEwing a lot of credit for helping him learn second base. After the AFL, he was added to Robin Ventura’s White Sox coaching staff as the third base coach after Ozzie Guillen was fired. Ozzie Guillen – His name keeps coming up, and we know that he wants to get back into managing. He has had managerial experience and won a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1985 and a three-time All Star in his 13 seasons with the White Sox as a player. He has had a lot of controversy surrounding him since his departure from the White Sox. His run in Miami was just one, long year. All that said, he’s a smart baseball man who would have the energy and fire that maybe this team needs. He is from Venezuela and diversity is one piece of the equation. Manny Acta – He is seen now on ESPN’s baseball coverage, but the 45-year-old has already had two big league managerial positions. The Dominican-born Acta spent six years in the minor leagues before going to scouting school. He spent time coaching in the minor leagues before getting MLB coaching jobs with the Expos and Mets. In 2007, he became the Nationals manager as a 38-year-old. He lost his job in July of 2009, and in 2010, he was named Cleveland’s manager. He kept his surprise team in the AL Central race until late in the 2011 season before finishing two games under .500. He was fired after the 2012 season. His career MLB managerial record is 372-518. Mike Redmond – The 43 year old was the Twins backup catcher from 2005 through 2009. He was a popular player known for his leadership skills. So it was no surprise that he quickly became a manager following his retirement from playing. Just two years later, the Miami Marlins offered him their job and he has spent the last two years as their manager. Last weekend, he signed an extension through the 2017 season with the Marlins. Though not impossible, it is highly improbable that he would even be interviewed for the Twins job at this time. As I said earlier, this is just a starting point for potential managerial options to replace Ron Gardenhire? The question you need to ask yourself is this; what qualities are most important to you in a manager? Being bilingual? High-level baseball IQ? Experience? Big League Experience? Statistical Lean? Fundamentals and teaching? How will they use the bullpen? How do they feel about bunting or base stealing? As I sit here on Monday afternoon, six hours since the announcement first came out, here is how I would rank the likelihood of the managerial choice: 1.) Terry Steinbach, 2.) Doug Mientkiewicz, 3.) Paul Molitor, 4.) Chip Hale, 5.) Gene Glynn Who would I like to see as the next Twins manager is likely a different ranking. Mine would be (with admittedly limited knowledge on the candidates other than reading and research): 1.) Doug Mientkiewicz, 2.) Jake Mauer, 3.) Chip Hale, 4.) Joe McEwing, 5.) Dave Martinez As you can see, I tend to lean toward the younger manager, a guy who can relate to the younger players and hopefully be here for a decade or more. What do you think? What direction would your managerial look go? Click here to view the article
  9. Here is a quick look at some of the potential candidates, though it is always important to note that a surprise candidate could come out of nowhere. There are several qualified internal candidates, though Terry Ryan insists that they will do their due diligence and look outside the organization as well. Internal Candidates Terry Steinbach – In my mind, he became the possible front-runner within the last week. I believe he may also be a top candidate for the Arizona Diamondbacks. His former Oakland A’s manager Tony Larussa is in charge of baseball operations and his former rotation-mate Dave Stewart was just named as the General Manager. However, there are a lot in the Twins organization that really like him as a managerial candidate. The 52-year-old from New Ulm played for the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Oakland A’s. He spent parts of 14 seasons in the big leagues, the final three with the Twins. He has been Gardenhire’s bench coach the last two seasons. Paul Molitor – Of course, most have believed that Molitor would be the next Twins manager for a couple of years already. He was added to the Twins staff a year ago after being a roving minor league instructor for several seasons. He has been a hitting coach in the big leagues, though that didn’t go so well. The 58-year-old from St. Paul has worked with the minor leaguers that are likely to be part of the next Twins core. Molitor was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2004 following a 21-year big league career during which he had over 3,300 hits and played in seven All Star games. Gene Glynn – Glynn was named Minnesota’s first Mr. Basketball in 1975 when he was the top hoops player in the state while playing at Waseca high school. He never played in the big leagues after seven seasons of playing minor league ball, including three years at AAA. He has had a variety of roles in baseball. He was a long-time manager and coach in the minor leagues. He was a base coach for the Rockies, the Expos, the Cubs and the Giants over the course of a dozen years. Before becoming the Twins AAA manager, he spent six years as a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays. He has done a great job in Rochester taking a revolving door of players and making them playoff contenders. Doug Mientkiewicz – “Dougie Baseball” was drafted by the Twins in the fifth round of the 1995 draft and stayed in the organization until he was traded to the Red Sox and won a World Series championship in 2004. He spent time with the Mets, Royals, Yankees, Pirates and Dodgers from 2005 through 2009. His best years were clearly with the Twins. Known for his fire and his glove, Mientkiewicz won a Gold Glove at first base in 2001 and was a big part of the group that came up in the late ‘90s and the early playoff teams last decade. He returned to the organization a year ago as the manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle. In his first year, he went to the playoffs, but he also got into a fight with the opposing manager in a game. He has worked with most of the Twins top prospects and led this year’s squad to the Florida State League title. If you believe being able to relate to today’s players is important, Mientkiewicz is just 40 years old and only been retired for five years. Jake Mauer – Some will laugh that this name is on the list, but Mauer should manage in the big leagues. If not now, someday. For those that choose to look only at that last name and not the qualifications, it’s just too bad. Mauer is a very good baseball person. He was a leader on that St. Thomas baseball teams that won Division III titles. He spent five seasons playing the minor leagues, peaking at Double-A, and playing a variety of positions. After spring training of 2006, he retired and immediately became a coach. He managed in the GCL for a couple of years before becoming the manager at Ft. Myers. In 2013, the organization made the decision to move him to Cedar Rapids to lead the group of young, very talented prospects. Known for having a very high baseball IQ and being three or four batters ahead of the game, Mauer protects his players while maintaining a calm about him. He is also known to be External Candidates Chip Hale – 49-year-old Hale was one of the better pinch hitters for the Twins in the ‘90s. The Twins drafted him in the 17th round in 1987 out of the University of Arizona. He spent time with the Twins in 1989 and 1990, and then he returned to the Twins in 1993 and stayed through 1996. He never played more than 85 games in a season or had more than 186 plate appearances. He was a second baseman who became a utility player but mainly was a pinch hitter. He got 12 at bats with the Dodgers in 1997. Since 2006, he has spent time in the big leagues as a coach with the Diamondbacks and Mets. He has been the third base coach for the A’s the last four seasons. He has been a managerial candidate for many positions over the last four or five offseasons. Dave Martinez – Martinez had a terrific 16 season big league career as an outfielder for the Cubs, Expos and seven other teams. He was a starter for several years and became a valued bench bat later in his career. The 50-year-old has been the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays since the 2008 season. Martinez was always known as a smart ball player, but much of the interest in Martinez would appear to be his association with Rays manager Joe Maddon who is generally considered one of baseball’s best. Martinez has put in his time and deserves to see what he can do on his own. Torey Lovullo – Lovullo was a Tigers prospect in the late 80s. He hit .381 as a 22-year-old in a September call up in 1988, but he was never able to become the player many thought he would. He spent big league time with seven teams over eight seasons from 1988 through 1999. He became a minor league coach in 2001 and was a manager in the Clevelend system. He was John Farrell’s bench coach in Toronto in 2011 and 2012 and followed him to the Red Sox in 2013 in the same capacity. He is 49 years old and has no major league managerial experience, though he has interviewed for several managerial jobs, including the Cubs job a year ago. Joe McEwing – The 41-year-old McEwing spent nine seasons in the big leagues. In that time, he played over 45 games at seven different positions, all but pitcher and catcher. In 2008, he entered the world of coaching. He became a manager in 2009 in A-Ball and then moved up to AAA in 2011 (he coached Eduardo Escobar in 2010 and 2011) Following that season, he was the manager of the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League where he coached Brian Dozier, Aaron Hicks and Chris Herrmann. Dozier gave McEwing a lot of credit for helping him learn second base. After the AFL, he was added to Robin Ventura’s White Sox coaching staff as the third base coach after Ozzie Guillen was fired. Ozzie Guillen – His name keeps coming up, and we know that he wants to get back into managing. He has had managerial experience and won a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1985 and a three-time All Star in his 13 seasons with the White Sox as a player. He has had a lot of controversy surrounding him since his departure from the White Sox. His run in Miami was just one, long year. All that said, he’s a smart baseball man who would have the energy and fire that maybe this team needs. He is from Venezuela and diversity is one piece of the equation. Manny Acta – He is seen now on ESPN’s baseball coverage, but the 45-year-old has already had two big league managerial positions. The Dominican-born Acta spent six years in the minor leagues before going to scouting school. He spent time coaching in the minor leagues before getting MLB coaching jobs with the Expos and Mets. In 2007, he became the Nationals manager as a 38-year-old. He lost his job in July of 2009, and in 2010, he was named Cleveland’s manager. He kept his surprise team in the AL Central race until late in the 2011 season before finishing two games under .500. He was fired after the 2012 season. His career MLB managerial record is 372-518. Mike Redmond – The 43 year old was the Twins backup catcher from 2005 through 2009. He was a popular player known for his leadership skills. So it was no surprise that he quickly became a manager following his retirement from playing. Just two years later, the Miami Marlins offered him their job and he has spent the last two years as their manager. Last weekend, he signed an extension through the 2017 season with the Marlins. Though not impossible, it is highly improbable that he would even be interviewed for the Twins job at this time. As I said earlier, this is just a starting point for potential managerial options to replace Ron Gardenhire? The question you need to ask yourself is this; what qualities are most important to you in a manager? Being bilingual? High-level baseball IQ? Experience? Big League Experience? Statistical Lean? Fundamentals and teaching? How will they use the bullpen? How do they feel about bunting or base stealing? As I sit here on Monday afternoon, six hours since the announcement first came out, here is how I would rank the likelihood of the managerial choice: 1.) Terry Steinbach, 2.) Doug Mientkiewicz, 3.) Paul Molitor, 4.) Chip Hale, 5.) Gene Glynn Who would I like to see as the next Twins manager is likely a different ranking. Mine would be (with admittedly limited knowledge on the candidates other than reading and research): 1.) Doug Mientkiewicz, 2.) Jake Mauer, 3.) Chip Hale, 4.) Joe McEwing, 5.) Dave Martinez As you can see, I tend to lean toward the younger manager, a guy who can relate to the younger players and hopefully be here for a decade or more. What do you think? What direction would your managerial look go?
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