7/12/2014 5:54 P.M. ET
Twins, MLB unveil renovated Ronald McDonald House
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- How do you remember Brad Radke?
If you're a Twins fan, you probably remember that he averaged 32 starts and 204 innings per season over 12 years in Major League Baseball from 1995-2006, all of them with the Twins. He was the definition of a rotation workhorse, always showing up to take the ball on his next scheduled turn, and his 122/37 average strikeout/walk ratio made him one of the top control artists of the era.
If you're an Oakland fan, you perhaps recall that he was responsible for finally ending the A's record 20-game winning streak in 2002 that later was made even more famous in the movie "Moneyball." Radke had been the losing pitcher in the A's 16th win during that streak in Oakland. Then on Sept. 6 at the Metrodome, he threw a six-hit shutout, and that was that.
If you're Radke, meanwhile, then you look back at your dozen seasons with the same club and you are just thankful that you got the chance to wear that No. 22 under the dome and on the road. And you are thankful that they still invite you back from your home near Tampa, Fla., to be part of community events, including Saturday's appearance with former Twins closer Rick Aguilera at the unveiling of a Ronald McDonald House renovation, part of the All-Star Week Legacy initiatives being undertaken in this region by Major League Baseball and the host Twins.
"I was fortunate to even be a part of MLB, to begin with," Radke said. "And then, it's not an easy lifestyle. You've got to perform. That's the most important thing, to perform to stick.
"Just being in the Twins organization helped me tremendously, because they don't go out and sign big guys, they use their farm system quite a bit. I couldn't ask for anything more. This organization is a family, and we just love coming back up and seeing old faces and reminiscing"
The Ronald McDonald House project consisted of renovations made to 48 living-space rooms and a common area that will help provide a private, safe, efficient, clean and pleasant environment for families of children with life-threatening illnesses. The renovations to the common area covered the connecting hallways, community spaces and bathrooms. Additionally, a baseball-themed lounge is featured in the house's central space, featuring American and National League jerseys.
The renovations to the 48 rooms included improvements made to the carpeting, bathrooms, painting, furniture, heating/kitchenette and electronics. Also at the dedication ceremony, in addition to the former Twins players, was Twins owner Jim Pohlad, Twins president Dave St. Peter, MLB vice president of community affairs Tom Brasuell, and Ronald McDonald House CEO John Stanoch. Now-retired Twins broadcaster John Gordon was the emcee.
"Wow -- that's all I have to say," Radke said after taking a tour of the redesigned rooms and hearing stories of all the volunteers who cook for the families, making it easier for parents and siblings to focus on young family remembers being treated. "Just all the work that has been put into renovating and just making families more comfortable and feel a little more like home, this is something very special. I am just honored that I got the opportunity to come here and see firsthand everything that they did."
Radke and his wife, Heather, make their home near Tampa, and they have two boys. The oldest, Casey, is an incoming freshman baseball player at the University of Tampa. The youngest, Ryan, is an incoming high school freshman who's into basketball.
"They keep me active," Radke said. "Coming up here, whenever they have some kind of events during the summer, we'll be back. We were up here last June for Eddie Guardado's Twins Hall of Fame Induction. Not very often, but when we do come back up here it just brings back a lot of great memories."
Whether there will be another Radke drafted one day remains to be seen. For the father, it was almost beyond his imagination to conceive of one day being an All-Star. After his 20-win season of 1997, Radke was added to the AL roster at Colorado, where he recorded a hold after pitching an inning in relief of Roger Clemens. Radke remembers being "in total awe."
It is the same feeling that many of the 68 All-Stars will have as the 85th Midsummer Classic approaches on Tuesday night at Target Field.
"As a boy growing up and playing baseball, you're looking at MLB, and it's just like, 'Wow, that's really special. I would hope one day I could be a part of it,'" Radke said. "I never played the game to expect that I was going to be an All-Star. I just played the game to have fun and to win with my teammates. That was the most important thing. Accolades will come if you do well.
"The All-Star Game was fantastic. I'm sure I was a nervous wreck. Just being in the atmosphere with the best players in the world, and players I watched growing up, was awesome. But this, the Ronald McDonald House, is bar none the best. I know the game is important, but this is the most important thing ever. And I'm just glad to be a part of it."
Aguilera was a three-time All-Star as the Twins' closer from 1991-93, when he amassed a combined 117 saves. In each of those consecutive Midsummer Classics, he pitched the second-to-last inning, handing the ball over to Dennis Eckersley the first two years and Duane Ward in '93.
These days, it is about so much more than what happens on the field at All-Star Week.
"It's always great to get back to the Twin Cities," Aguilera said. "We made this our home when I was playing here, and to be asked to come back and be part of the ceremony this morning was sort of a no-brainer.
"The Ronald McDonald House does a great job in trying to bring as much comfort as they can to a family. It's important to support that. The Twins organization has always done a good job in encouraging their players to be plugged into the community, and to come back and be part of this is a great moment.