March 23, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce, Mr. Phil Hughes (applause)

Former starting pitcher, Phil Hughes, who is perhaps best known as an ex-Yankee, was also long-coveted by the Twins. And he finally joined the Minnesota team as a free agent in 2013, then put together a record-setting season in 2014 on a club that lost 92 games.

Hughes would win 16 games that season with a 3.52 ERA and pitch 200-plus innings for the first time in his career. He also pitched with pinpoint control, allowing only 16 walks — or 0.7 walks per nine innings — while also striking out 186 batters. That resulted in a new MLB record for strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He made 20 quality starts in 2014 and was at his best early and late in the season. After a couple of rough starts in April, which pushed his ERA to 7.20, Hughes settled in and turned things around to stand 8-3 with a 3.40 ERA by June 15. July wasn’t as easy, but he finished strong in August and was 15-9 on Sept. 1.

Despite a stellar 2014, Hughes battled injuries during his time with the Twins and finally was traded to the San Diego Padres in 2018 but later released. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since. One wonders if Hughes’ career might have been extended if he hadn’t spent nine seasons in the minors, waiting for his chance with the New York Yankees. He pitched well enough — 34-8 with a 2.37 ERA over those nine seasons — but no doubt he was competing for a spot on a team loaded with talent. He finally got his chance and won 18 games in 2010.

But Hughes is much more than a former baseball pitcher. He’s also a hockey fan, humorist, cultural observer, baseball card fanatic and proud papa, and all of that is on display on a must-see twitter feed.

A few tweets:



Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

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.