Posts Tagged ‘Kirby Puckett’

Blyleven’s 28 takes place among Twins greats

July 16, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — No player will wear No. 28 again for the Minnesota Twins.

Prior to Saturday’s game against the Royals, the Twins retired Bert Blyleven’s uniform No. 28, eight days before his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Blyleven joined fellow Twins greats Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett as the only six Minnesota players to have their numbers retired. Blyleven’s No. 28 was placed between Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 and Kirby Puckett’s No. 34.

“Target Field’s going to be here a long time,” Blyleven said Friday on a conference call. “Somewhere down the line, 50 years from now when I’m gone, some young kid will go to the ballpark and say, ‘Who was No. 28?’

“Hopefully their father or grandfather will explain who I was and what I did. It becomes almost unbelievable.”

The ceremony was emceed by Twins announcers Dick Bremer and John Gordon and included appearances by Carew, Oliva and Hrbek. Each of the three received a standing ovation from the crowd as he walked out from left field.

Blyleven followed those three, jogging out to huge ovation from the fans on Bert Blyleven Day at Target Field. Gordon introduced Blyleven as the “greatest right-handed pitcher in Twins history.”

A special presentation was made by The Netherlands, which gave Blyleven a special pair of Size 13 wooden shoes to commemorate his being the first Dutch-born player inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The ceremony also featured a video tribute as well as special presentations by Twins ownership and current team members.

Former Twins manager Tom Kelly brought out a brand new set of Callaway golf clubs along with a custom Hall of Fame bag given to Blyleven — an avid golfer — by the Twins front office.

Each member of the current ballclub followed manager Ron Gardenhire onto the field to present Blyleven with a signed replica of the No. 28 that will hang in his honor at Target Field.

“I think that’s a number that could have been retired a long time ago,” said lefty reliever Glen Perkins, a Minnesota native. “I think he should’ve been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago. It’s well-deserved.”

Said right fielder Michael Cuddyer: “It’s been a long time coming, and he deserves this as much as anybody does. He definitely, 100 percent deserves that recognition and that honor.”

Blyleven was joined on the field during the ceremony by his wife, Gayle, and a number of other family members. His children also took part in the ceremony as they unveiled the No. 28 on the left-field façade.

Special No. 28 logos honoring Blyleven were placed on the field behind the pitcher’s mound and along the foul lines for Saturday’s game.

Blyleven also threw out a ceremonial first pitch to former Twins catcher George Mitterwald, his first battery mate in the Major Leagues.

“Twenty-two years I played the greatest game in the world,” said Blyleven during his speech, “and I still miss it.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers notebook, 6/29

June 29, 2011 Comments off

Lilly struggling to hold runners on

MINNEAPOLIS — Ted Lilly has always had trouble holding runners on, but opponents have been running even more lately on the Dodgers lefty.

Lilly has been working on keeping runners close, but it has not seemed to be effective. With Lilly on the mound Tuesday night, the Twins stole four bases, one shy of their season high.

“It seems like every time I throw over to first, they’re standing there, and when I go home, they’re standing on second,” Lilly said. “They know something that I don’t.”

While his delivery to plate is slow, Lilly does have an above-average pickoff move to first base. But even that hasn’t helped.

“He’s got one of those moves that is deceptive, but it’s like when we’re picking guys, we’re still not able to get that guy at second base,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ve probably had three or four of those, where he’s picked guys off and we’re not able to get that guy at second.”

Mattingly said Lilly needs to use a spin move more with runners at second base, and he notes that Lilly has been mixing up his pickoff moves to try to keep runners off-balance.

One thing that Mattingly does not think will help, though, is Lilly using a slide step to cut down the length of his delivery.

Whatever the issue is with Lilly holding runners close, Mattingly said it has seemed worse than usual lately. It has also coincided with a few poor starts.

When Lilly was asked if one could be affecting the other, he responded, “Usually, that’s how it goes.”

Injuries, uneven play impetus of Dodgers’ woes

MINNEAPOLIS — Through the first half of the season, the Dodgers have dealt with numerous injuries and struggled to a 36-45 record.

As it entered the second half the season on Wednesday, the club sat 10 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West.

So what has first-year manager Don Mattingly learned about his team so far?

“I’ve learned we’re not in a good position at this point,” Mattingly said. “We haven’t really put ourselves in the position we’d like.”

After an impressive, historic victory on Monday, the Dodgers had won back-to-back games while looking like a team ready to put together a winning streak.

Instead, they followed with a 6-4 loss Tuesday night, in which lefty starter Ted Lilly struggled and the offense could not put anything together significant, save for a three-run fifth inning.

Midway through the season, the Dodgers still have not won more than three consecutive games.

“Obviously, at halfway, you’d like to start seeing your club kind of form an identity of who you’re going to be on a day-in, day-out basis,” Mattingly said. “Really to this point, I don’t think we’ve been showing any sign of that.

“We haven’t really put a run together yet, we haven’t gotten on one of those streaks where you’re winning and you get that confidence going as a ballclub, where you start to feel like, ‘We can do this, we can win this thing.'”

Mattingly: ‘Donnie Baseball’ came from Puckett

MINNEAPOLIS — During his 14-year career with the Yankees in the 1980s and ’90s, Don Mattingly earned the nickname “Donnie Baseball.”

Before Wednesday’s series finale in Minnesota, the Dodgers manager talked about how he got that nickname, from one of the Twins’ all-time greats, Kirby Puckett.

“I’m not quite sure why it stuck. … Kirby got it started,” Mattingly said. “The way he gets going and gets talking, he’s talking about ‘Baseball, baseball, Donnie Baseball, baseball.'”

Mattingly said Puckett coined the name at an annual banquet in Rochester, N.Y., held by former Major League umpire Ken Kaiser to benefit an orphanage. The banquet was well-attended by players, and Mattingly recalled seeing Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Mark McGwire, Jim Leyland and Don Zimmer there, among others.

Beyond getting his nickname from the Twins Hall of Famer, Mattingly said he had a good relationship with Puckett.

“You really respect the way Kirby played the game; he played hard,” Mattingly said. “From that standpoint, yeah. Not necessarily going out to dinner and things like that, but [we had] a good relationship from the standpoint of camaraderie amongst players.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins to host 2011, ’12 RBI World Series

April 11, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — The championship game for Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program is moving to Target Field for 2011 and ’12.

MLB announced in a release on Monday, issued during a news conference in Minnesota, that the Twins’ ballpark would host the baseball finale of the 19th and 20th RBI World Series, after the previous two were played at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Preceding games of the RBI World Series, taking place Aug. 2-14, will be held at various other locations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

“It is a tremendous honor for the Minnesota Twins organization and for Target Field to host the 2011 and 2012 RBI World Series in the Twin Cities,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said. “We have been actively pursuing this opportunity for more than two years, and are very eager to show the nation what the Twin Cities offers in terms of a national youth championship.”

Twins center fielder Denard Span, the club’s RBI ambassador, was on hand to share his thoughts about the merits of the program, and his excitement about the championship coming to Target Field. Though he did not participate in the program growing up, Span saw the benefits of RBI baseball through friends and teammates who played in the program.

Span is the latest in a long line of Twins players who have supported the program, including Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield, and Torii Hunter. The Minnesota Twins ballclub has supported RBI baseball since 1993.

“Torii, I remember coming up in the Minor Leagues, everything that he told me,” Span said. “Back then, I didn’t realize and understand some of the things that he said, but I kept my eyes open and I watched him, and I just listened to the things that he told me.

“Now that I am where I am, and I’m older, I realized why he did certain things with me and brought me along with him with certain things. It’s just an honor just to be here and carry on the legacy of Kirby Puckett and [Hunter] and now me.”

The RBI World Series is the crowning event for a program that aims to provide free year-round baseball and softball opportunities to kids growing up in rough environments. Founded in 1989, the RBI program now features 300 leagues and about 200,000 kids ages 5-18 participating.

In the 2010 RBI World Series, Houston claimed the Senior Division (16-18-year-olds), the Dominican Republic won in the Junior Division (13-15) and Los Angeles took the softball crown (19 and under).

“RBI is a program that provides underserved children with a chance to learn and play baseball and softball, but more importantly, gives them a chance to make new friends, and learn life lessons,” said Tom Brasuell, vice president of community affairs for Major League Baseball. “Since RBI’s inception in 1989, more than one million kids have gone through the program and gone on to be productive citizens throughout their lives.”

This year, baseball tournament games will be held at Parade Stadium and Neiman Sports Complex in Minneapolis, and Toni Stone Stadium in St. Paul. Softball tournament games will be played at Neiman Sports Complex and Dunning Softball Fields in St. Paul.

Softball’s championship game is slated to be played at the University of Minnesota’s Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Twenty-four teams will compete in the RBI World Series, composed of winners from eight divisions in the RBI Regionals.

Mike Hahn, director of parks and recreation for St. Paul, and Cordell Wiseman, assistant superintendent of recreation in Minneapolis, were both on hand to thank the Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball. Hahn and Wiseman expressed gratitude not only for the RBI World Series coming to the Twin Cities, but for just having the RBI program itself.

As a Florida native, Span acknowledged that many of his friends growing up saw other sports, especially basketball and football, to be more appealing than baseball. Now, when he goes home, his friends all tell them they wish they had chosen baseball.

“We’ve just got to try to get kids to realize that at a younger age before they do get older,” Span said. “Even though there aren’t a lot of African-Americans in the game, there still are [some], and it seems like the African-Americans that are in the game, that they are successful.

“I think it’s just good to make ourselves visible by going to the community, going and speaking to kids, so that they can see that this dream is obtainable.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.