Today, August 20, I went to a lunch with Ron Gardenhire, manager of the Minnesota Twins. I got the tickets through PACER, an organization for people with disabilities. The event was held at a condo downtown to raise money for PACER. Here are some things that “Gardy” said.
- For the most part, Gardenhire loves Target Field. He said that the fans are very close to the dugout, which is quite different from the Metrodome. He also noted that his view isn’t blocked by any bad railings. He said the team had done everything possible to make the new stadium work, including putting a block in the dugout for him to stand on that allows him to rest his arms on the railing!
- Two things he hopes the team will fix in the off season: The batter’s eye beyond center field is too white. Batters have complained that it’s hard to see the ball coming. Also, the Minnie and Paul sign (the characters that light up) is at an angle that catches the sun and can be blinding. Gardy says they will adjust this after the season.
- Tom Kelly, manager of the Twins before Gardenhire took over, had the heaviest influence on Gardenhire to become a manager of a baseball team. Kelly was always focused on the game, no matter what the score was. Gardenhire was a coach for the Twins when Kelly was manager. Joe Torre and Davey Johnson, who managed Gardenhire when he was playing for the New York Mets, also influenced him.
- The current Twins player most likely to become a manager, in Gardy’s opinion, is Michael Cuddyer. Second baseman Orlando Hudson would definitely NOT make a good manager because he talks ALL the time. He even talks to the hitters and fielders! Infielder Nick Punto, catcher Joe Mauer, and former Twins catcher Mike Redmond would also make good managers.
- During the Pepsi Refresh Project campaign (see July 22 and August 18 posts), Cuddyer was the spokesperson for the Twins. About a week ago, he told Gardenhire that the Twins were in 1st place with just a few days of voting left. Gardy said Cuddyer was fired up about making sure the Twins would win the grant. To me, it was nice to hear Cuddyer really cared about winning it.
- The Twins do a very good job of giving back to the community. Gardenhire stresses the importance of this. He also mentioned that his wife and daughter are doing the 3-day walk to raise money for breast cancer awareness.
- About those umpires…In one game, umpire Brian Runge made a bad call. Gardenhire argued with Runge. After the game, Runge admitted (having watched the replay) that he had missed the call and that he was “better than that.” Against his wife’s advice, as he was driving away, Gardenhire replied, “No you aren’t!” He said he couldn’t resist saying it! His wife had to reprimand him for that comment.
- He hopes that Justin Morneau will be back with the team in September.
- He loves having Carl Pavano and Jim Thome on the team. Gardy said Pavano is sarcastic and funny. Jim Thome loves being with the Twins and Gardenhire hopes he comes back next season.
- Even though he wanted to leave Kevin Slowey in when he was pitching a no-hitter last week, Gardenhire took him out of the game after the 7th inning because Slowey had too many pitches and he had a little bit of a sore elbow a few days earlier. Gardy didn’t want to take a chance on an injury. At first I thought Gardenhire should have kept Slowey in because I wanted to see a no-hitter, too, but now I think that he made the right decision, even though it wasn’t popular.
Gardenhire was really friendly with everyone at the lunch. He answered all questions and was very respectful. He was also honest about all the injuries and the challenges this season. I was impressed that he knew about the “Two Men On” blog before I even mentioned it!
At the end of the lunch, I asked him the big question: Will the Twins win the World Series? He answered very seriously that it’s always been their goal and they are doing all they can to win the division and then go on to the World Series. I also met Tom Richmond, the cartoonist/illustrator who does cartoon sketches for Twins posters (see photo to the right).
Written by: Sam Graves