June 6, 2016

When religion divided the Minnesota Twins

What do you do when the Twins fall to 16-40 by early June? You find a reason to avoid reading depressing box scores. For me that meant buying “Down To The Last Pitch,” sportswriter Tim Wendel’s book on the 1991 World Series between the Twins and Atlanta Braves. Many have called it the greatest World Series of all time.

Twenty-five years later and both teams are struggling. The Braves are also 16-40. But neither team was struggling in late 1991 and they finally met in a World Series that took seven games to decide. How good was it? Four of the seven games were decided on the last pitch, including Kirby Puckett’s “We’ll see you tomorrow night” game-ending Game 6 home run to force Game 7.

And then there was Game 7 itself. Twins pitcher Jack Morris went the distance, throwing an incredible 10 inning shutout to beat the Braves and win the series, 1-0.

But Wendel’s book is much more than the series. As he writes about each game of the series, he also looks at the history of the Twins and Braves, including a time when religion divided the Twins’ clubhouse.

After the Twins first World Series win in 1987, Gary Gaetti, the team’s good-hitting and slick-fielding third baseman — and arguably the best third baseman in the team’s history — became born again. Previously nicknamed the “rat” for his ability to hit the “high cheese,” Gaetti “began to arrive later at the ballpark and spend more time at his locker room reading the Bible,” Wendel writes.

That didn’t sit well with Kent Hrbek, the team’s longtime first baseman. The two of them used to hunt, fish and hit the bars together, but Hrbek asked for a separate room when Gaetti began to talk to him about Jesus Christ.

“That’s where I drew the line,” Hrbek said. “That’s the only time we had any flak between us. He was into it deep the first year, and that’s what everybody I talked to told me how it would be.”

Hrbek was later quoted as saying it was like a “death in the family.”

Gaetti was later named an All-Star in 1989, and during the player announcements before the game, Gaetti held up his glove, which read, “Jesus is Lord.” Hrbek, at home, turned off the TV.

Gaetti was not on the 1991 team. He left as a free agent for the California Angels and was replaced by the Twins with a platoon of Scott Leius and Mike Pagliarulo, the former Yankee.

Andy MacPhail, the Twins general manager at the time, said Gaetti’s faith had “zero bearing” on the team’s decision not to re-sign him.

Extra innings…

Well, after the Twins swept the Seattle Mariners, they got swept by the Oakland A’s and then dropped three of four to the Tampa Bay Rays. More bad news: Just when Miguel Sano was getting hot, he winds up on the disabled list with a partially torn hamstring, an injury that could keep him off the field for some time. Let’s hope he gets back sooner than expected. Meanwhile, Byron Buxton, recalled to the team from the minors, is playing much better the second time around. Let’s hope this keeps up.

 

 

May 30, 2016

Twins notch second sweep with wins over Seattle Mariners

Winning streaks apparently come in small doses for the Twins after the bats fell silent in a 3-2 loss to the Oakland A’s. Still, prior to Monday’s loss, the Twins had put together a rare four-game winning streak, including an even rarer three-game sweep of the previously AL West-leading Seattle Mariners. It was the Twins’ second... Continue Reading »

May 29, 2016

Kris Johnson of the Hiroshima Carp: The Twins need you

Despite consecutive wins against the Royals and Mariners, the Twins still need a lot of help, particularly in the rotation. The Twins have the worst team ERA in the American League, and while Pat Dean and Tyler Duffey have made encouraging starts this year, there’s more work to be done. Just ask pitching coach Neil... Continue Reading »

May 23, 2016

Tyler Duffey and the curse of the Toronto Blue Jays

Here’s a telling stat: Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey has a 2.13 ERA in 13 of 15 major league starts, but in two games against the Toronto Blue Jays — his major league debut and last week’s start — Duffey apparently can’t pitch at all, surrendering enough runs that he has an ERA of more than... Continue Reading »

May 19, 2016

Twins implode in Motown

Don’t remember the Twins’ back-to-back wins against the Indians? Well, there’s a reason for that because the Twins rode those rare wins to Detroit and completely fell apart, getting swept by the Tigers, the fourth-place team in the division. The Twins are 4-2 against the Indians, 0-14 against rest of AL Central. The Tigers are... Continue Reading »

May 15, 2016

News to share: Twins snap eight-game losing streak with 6-3 win over Tribe

Roll the presses because the Twins avoided their second nine-game losing streak of the season by beating the Cleveland Indians 6-3 on Saturday. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak. The win, believe it or not, was only the team’s ninth of the season — that’s right, nine wins in their first 35 games. That’s... Continue Reading »

May 12, 2016

Twins’ Phil Hughes is a mess, it’s probably in his kiss

Forgive the reference to the X song of the same name, but I feel like I’m running out of ways to describe the Twins and their awful play so far this year. Starting pitcher Phil Hughes didn’t help matters on Wednesday after he got shelled and the Twins lost 9-2 to the Baltimore Orioles. It... Continue Reading »

May 8, 2016

Blow it up: The Minnesota Twins are terrible

Time to face facts, Twins fans: This team is terrible, and all the hope created by last season’s team and its 83 wins — plus the near playoff berth — can be forgotten. All that’s left is to find those silver linings that bode well for the future. As for 2016, forget it; I don’t... Continue Reading »

May 3, 2016

The Twins — and this country — have known hard times before

The Twins have experienced hard times before — just as this country has — and both were thrust into the spotlight during the turbulent year of 1968. That’s according to sportswriter, Tim Wendel, and his book, “Summer of ‘68: The Season That Changed Baseball — and America — Forever.” Wendel tells his tale about the... Continue Reading »

Next Previous

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.