February 15, 2016

Ron Gardenhire, baseball player

Long before Ron Gardenhire managed the Twins to six division titles between 2002 and 2014, Gardenhire — like a lot of big league skippers — had a brief career as a player.

If you’d like to see Gardenhire in action as a second baseman for the New York Mets — the team he spent five seasons with — then do a YouTube search for pitcher Dwight Gooden’s Major League debut against the Houston Astros on April 7, 1984. Gardenhire witnessed history that day because he backed up Doc at second base.
Gooden won his debut, striking out five over five innings, and would go on to win 17 games his rookie season. The next season Gooden won the National League Cy Young award with 24 wins, a 1.53 ERA, eight shutouts and 268 strikeouts in 276 innings pitched.
Gardenhire, meanwhile, was the leadoff hitter in Gooden’s debut, getting one hit in five at bats. He also struck out once. Gardenhire hit .232 for his career.
Here’s how the Twins managers fared as players:
-Tom Kelly: A career minor league ballplayer — and a decent one at that — except for one season with the Twins in 1975. He hit .181.
-Ray Miller: Also a career minor league player, who won 60 games as a right-handed pitcher.
-Billy Gardner: Spent 10 seasons in the Majors, including part of a season with the Twins in 1961. He hit .237 for his career, but once hit 36 doubles for the Baltimore Orioles in 1957.
-Johnny Goryl: Spent six seasons in the Majors, including three with the Twins. Hit .225 for his career.
-Gene Mauch: Played nine seasons in the bigs for six teams, including the Boston Braves and Red Sox. His best season, which also was his last as a player, was in 1957 when he hit .270 for the Red Sox in 65 games.
-Frank Quilici: Played five seasons, all of them with the Twins. Hit .214 for his career.
-Bill Rigney: Spent eight seasons with the New York Giants. Hit .259 for his career, including 17 home runs for the Giants in 1947.
-Billy Martin: Eleven seasons, spent mostly with the New York Yankees. Hit .257 for his career and once drove in 75 runs for the Yanks in 1953.
-Cal Ermer: Appeared in one game for the Washington Senators in 1947 and did not record a hit in three at bats.
-Sam Mele: Spent 10 seasons in the Majors, five of them with the Red Sox. Hit .267 for his career, including 94 RBIs for the Senators in 1951.
-Cookie Lavagetto: Played 10 seasons, seven of them for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Lavagetto hit .269 for his career and was a four-time All-Star. He hit .300 and drove in 87 runs for the Dodgers in 1939.

February 7, 2016

Another year, another trip to Seattle to see the Twins

The Twins travel to the Northwest in late May, which means the continuation of a tradition that started 30-some years ago when my father and I decided to see at least one Twins game every season. It’s not a perfect streak: It was interrupted by college, by living in Japan for seven years and by... Continue Reading »

January 28, 2016

Inside baseball: Former Twins sponsor has ties to current team ownership

The Classic Minnesota Twins! blog has a new post about an old film discovered on YouTube. The 22-minute film is about the 1970 team, which won 98 games that year, but lost badly to the Baltimore Orioles (again) in the post-season. But what was interesting to me were the first few images of the film,... Continue Reading »

January 21, 2016

Torii’s turn: Hunter reflects on his baseball career via The Players’ Tribune

First Michael Cuddyer and now Torii Hunter, both of whom played for the Twins, has penned some thoughts about his playing career on The Players’ Tribune after he retired at the end of last season. .@toriihunter48 reflects on his baseball beginnings, the 2002 @Twins and pranking Big Papi. https://t.co/nCfeANZw8G pic.twitter.com/cTPWOCTNqS — The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune)... Continue Reading »

January 18, 2016

Sam Mele, who guided Twins to 1965 World Series appearance, turns 94 this week

Sam Mele, who won 524 games as manager of the Twins from 1961 to 1967, will celebrate his 94th birthday on Thursday. Mele’s tenure with the Twins wasn’t long, but after the Washington Senators relocated to Minnesota for the 1961 season, it also wasn’t long before the Twins showed improvement. Under Mele, the Twins won... Continue Reading »

January 17, 2016

A State of the Union address for Twins fans

President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address last week, reassuring Americans that the country remains in good shape, despite recent concerns about the economy and national security. The 2011 State of the Union address But this is a blog about one particular baseball team, so I ask: What’s the state of... Continue Reading »

January 11, 2016

Yes, Torii Hunter will be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

After a 19-year career in the Major Leagues, including 12 seasons spent with the Twins, Torii Hunter retired at the end of last season. He’ll now have to wait five years before he appears on his first Hall of Fame ballot. Torii Hunter But once he does, I believe he will be enshrined. It won’t... Continue Reading »

January 7, 2016

Remembering Brian Harper, baseball catcher

I have a small but growing collection of Twins’ memorabilia: there’s Kirby Puckett’s rookie card, the license plate, the old pennant flag, the Brad Radke bobblehead, a Casey Fien-signed baseball, a ball with Frank Viola and Jack Morris signatures and the Johan Santana autograph. The newest addition, which I received as a Christmas gift, is... Continue Reading »

December 30, 2015

New Billy Martin biography sheds light on Martin’s time with Twins

When one thinks of Billy Martin, synonymous with the New York Yankees as a player and manager, this image doesn’t come to mind: The Martins’ Richfield neighborhood had big, old maple trees and was close to the Twins’ ballpark in Bloomington. There was a backyard for Billy Joe — Gretchen called him B.J. — and... Continue Reading »

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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.