Legends Game a treat for players and fans
Twins greats put on a show to celebrate 50th anniversary
MINNEAPOLIS -- More than two dozen former Twins gathered at Target Field on Sunday afternoon to take part in the Twins Legends Game.The three-inning game, part of the club's 50th Season Celebration weekend, provided a chance for fans in attendance to see some of their favorite former players back on the field as well as to get a few laughs. From Bert Blyleven to Kent Hrbek to Jack Morris, many of the greats who have played in the 50 years since the Twins arrived in Minnesota in 1961 took part in the Legends Game. Two teams, "Minnie" and "Paul" in reference to the twins in the team's original logo, competed before Sunday's game against the Rangers. It was one of many festivities held by the Twins over the weekend. Introductions took place down the first-base line before the game, which included some legends like Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva who donned uniforms and helped coach but did not play in the contest. Formers Twins managers Tom Kelly and Frank Quilici chatted with an umpiring crew made up of local television personalities at home plate. As the players took the field for the first time, an old-time version of "We're Gonna Win Twins" played over the loudspeakers. Rangers manager and former Twin Ron Washington donned a Minnesota uniform for a couple hours and played in the game. He hit two singles to the delight of his players who gathered along the railing in the visiting dugout to watch and there were also plenty of laughs from that same group when Washington wasn't able to make a running catch in center field. For Washington, the game was a great opportunity to have some fun with some of his former teammates. "There are a lot of great guys out there, guys I mentored, that helped win two World Series here," Washington said. "I'm just out there having fun and taking my swings. But if they throw one over to me, I'm going to whack it." Twins manager Ron Gardenhire politely declined the chance to get back on the field and participate in the game. "I've missed enough balls. I've made enough outs. That's why I became a coach and a manager," Gardenhire said with a laugh. But Gardenhire did throw batting practice to a few of the former players, including Washington. And many current Twins players such as Jim Thome, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer were in the dugout to get a glimpse of the early part of the legends' game. Hrbek entertained the crowd, playfully grabbing at his hamstring as he went out for introductions before high-stepping into home plate when he scored in the first and creating a big divot in foul territory along the first-base line while trying to make a sliding catch. There were familiar faces on the mound with Brad Radke, Eddie Guardado, Rick Aguilera and Juan Berenguer among those who pitched in the contest. And Guardado even got up to swing the bat one time as well, joining the likes of other hitters in the game such as Paul Molitor, Dan Gladden and Gary Gaetti. The 40-minute Legends Game was won by the Minnies, 5-1, but the outcome didn't really matter as the crowd gave a standing ovation when the players left the field at the conclusion.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.