Unheralded

JIM THIELMAN: Beer Here? Not Any More

The best vendors at the ballpark snapped out quips and nonsense, thick as mustard on a hot dog. They poured a beer, handed over a soft pretzel and spun out a story about a mother-in-law they didn’t have or a fish they never caught. Those nearby leaned in to listen. Vendors made fans part of the game, like foul balls …


Unheralded

JIM THIELMAN: How Robinson’s No. 42 Went From Insignificant To Iconic

Accolades will shower Jackie Robinson once again this April 15, the 75th anniversary of him scaling baseball’s racial wall. Every big leaguer since 2007 has worn Robinson’s No. 42 on April 15. It’s the only number retired by all 30 major league teams — the first retired by an entire sport. It held no significance for him. Robinson played when …


JIM THIELMAN: That ‘Call From The Hall’ Is Backed By Intrigue

When former Minnesota Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat “got the call” from Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame this month, it came from Jane Forbes Clark. Few ask, “Who is Jane Forbes Clark?” Well, she chairs the Hall of Fame’s board in Cooperstown, N.Y., where in 1839 Abner Doubleday was said to invent the game of baseball. He did …

JIM THIELMAN: Ken Boyer Derailed My Grand Notion Of Life

You know the world holds boundless possibilities when you live near the only golf course in the nation with the front nine in one state and the back nine in another. So when I was 6, I announced that everyone should reach age 12, then start over. There were a helluva lot of big thinkers through history. None of them …

JIM THIELMAN: Baseball Is Disappearing Into The Corn Field

An Iowa farmer builds a baseball diamond where corn should grow in the 1989 film “Field of Dreams.” Soon, ghosts play baseball. For legal reasons, actor Jimmy Earl Jones plays an author not named J.D. Salinger. The resonant bass voice of Jones says: “They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn into your driveway, not knowing …

JIM THIELMAN: Hottest Twins Home Opener Offered Plenty, Except Beer

It was a record 90 degrees at Metropolitan Stadium when the Minnesota Twins opened their home baseball season April 22, 1980. The math should have been simple: 36,000 fans + 90 degrees = extra beer vendors. Also in the equation: Every college kid in the Twin Cities would skip class. The drinking age was 19. The Met was a frowzy …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Historic And Poignant Friendship Of Tommy Lasorda And Fred Claire

I just learned of the death of Tommy Lasorda, the Hall of Fame manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tommy was 93 and had been in poor health for several years. The news has much deeper meaning for me today than it would have a few years ago, before I met my friend, Fred Claire, the former Dodgers general manager …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 63: Hints Of Autumn

“There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow!” — “Oklahoma,” Rodgers and Hammerstein Jim burst into song this morning — pro tip: Ask him to sing “Moon River” — when we agreed that not only are there hints of autumn at Red Oak House but also haze in the air caused by the combination of smoke from Western fires and dust …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Bill Plaschke On ‘Extra Innings’

This is the forward to my book, “Extra Innings, written by Bill Plaschke, former Los Angeles Dodgers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times. Fred Claire is a fighter. You might not know that to look at him — he’s so distinguished and dignified and darned polite — but believe me, when he spots an unfairness or injustice, the man will …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — My Coming Book: On Medicine’s Finest, And Another Remarkable Guy Named Fred

I met Fred Claire about this time last year on my first visit to City of Hope National Medical Center near Los Angeles. Fred, his wife, Sheryl, and I talked for two hours that first day, sitting in the shade outside a research building on the sprawling campus. Fred never let on then that he was in terrible pain from …

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — The Dirty 30 Or A September To Remember?

Even the loyalest of Twins’ fans could hardly have expected this. With 30 games to go in the 2019 regular season, Minnesota is 30 games over .500. That’s both symmetrical and surprising, considering the team has a first-year manager, a relatively new front office and more errors than all but three major league teams. Home runs can cure a number …

JIM THIELMAN: When The Ragamuffin Becomes Fact, Print The Ragamuffin

John Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” might be the most aching, life-ain’t-fair western film. Told in long flashback, it ends with a newsman trashing the notes from an interview that revealed who really pinged an ornery outlaw. “You’re not going to use the story?” asks Jimmy Stewart’s tired, flawed hero. The newsman explains, “This is the West. When …

JIM THIELMAN: It’s A Short Walk From The Sunshine To The Shade

These are panic-stricken days. Each win by one of baseball’s better teams, the Minnesota Twins, brings the boys closer to disaster. The team’s World Series prospects flicker with each home run that is launched through precisely calculated launch angle. The victory cigars grind to ash with each strikeout notched through optimum spin rate. After too many dreary seasons to count, …

JIM THIELMAN: Twins Have A Bead On A Mardi Gras Season

The American League Central standings have barely shifted since the Cleveland Indians fell from a first-place tie with the Minnesota Twins on April 21. The turbulent April weather that could have crinkled a pitching staff has been forgotten. The Twins lead their division by 11.5 games. It could become a Mardi Gras season. This franchise has reached 100 wins just …

JIM THIELMAN: Ayyyy, What’s Up, Deck?

Who would think stark realizations about shrewd capitalism and insight to human nature could come from watching nine innings of pantomime baseball? Not this little black duck, as Daffy would say during cartoons in which Bugs Bunny was the smart one and Daffy was, well, daffy. Because the Minnesota Twins have had more bad seasons than good since moving into …

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — No More April Mauers, But Can Twins Become Powers?

I think I’m experiencing a different kind of March madness this year. Instead of going crazy about hoops, I feel like I’ve been jumping through too many of them. At the start of the month, I was constantly getting plowed and it had nothing to do with alcohol. Everything in sight was white. Shoveling mountains of snow was a daily …

JIM THIELMAN: Maybe Oliva Is Too Good For The Hall Of Fame

After we arrived at the expansive field on the outskirts of Cooperstown, N.Y., that smoldering Sunday in July 2001 for Kirby Puckett’s Hall of Fame induction, Tim, Shari and I needed to visit the port-a-potties, all blue, lined in a row by the road. We joined one of the dozens of human anaconda lines packed with tomorrow’s sunburn victims. A …

JIM THIELMAN: No Baseball Owner Would Be This Candid Today

Twins President Calvin Griffith letter to Jim Thielman – July 1974 Whatever I wrote in that letter to Calvin Griffith in 1974, it didn’t include any profanities. I told the first owner of the Minnesota Twins about it a few years later. “Did I write back?” he asked. He said it was his habit to take phone calls and respond …

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — Baseball: Best Of Times Or Worst Of Times?

The All-Star Break has come and gone and baseball junkies can go back to their daily fixes this weekend as a full schedule of games resumes Friday. But the annual downtime in mid-July has again ramped up discussion about the general state of the game. Just by chance, I attended the Minnesota Twins’ final game before the break. It seemed …

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — Making Sense Out Of Our Futility

As I drove across town Thursday on one of the first lovely afternoons in an otherwise lousy spring, I attempted to put a positive spin on life in Minnesota. Sure, we’ve had April temperatures 30 degrees below normal. And yes, I could still see, out of the corner of my eye, those dirty, lingering snow piles along the side of …

JIM THIELMAN — Opening Day: It’s Greek To Me

Dunno why, but for the past half-century, Major League Baseball has missed the fun-filled opportunity to have Don Demeter throw out the first pitch of each season. The lanky, giraffe-necked Oklahoman will be 83 this year and retired from baseball for 50 years. It’s not as if he couldn’t have been capably handling this chore. If you’re not starting to …

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — As Hopes Peter Out, Twins Become Sellers

The dog days of August have arrived and our favorite baseball team is apparently “rebuilding” again. For the better part of four months, the Minnesota Twins teased local fans with a brand of ball just good enough to make us believe there was hope. In fact, as recently as July 20, the Twins were within a half-game of first place …

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — Walking The Twins’ Tightrope

The Minnesota Twins lost 103 games last year. Their pitching has been among the worst in the major leagues for several seasons. Fan interest has plummeted, as they approach their eighth season at beautiful Target Field. So in the offseason, the club made significant moves in the front office, hiring young and promising executives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to …

JIM THIELMAN: Did Whack To Hand Cost Cubs ’45 Series?

Hitler was barely dead when the Chicago Cubs lost the 1945 Series to Detroit in seven games. The analog clock has stood still for the Cubs since. Until now. So with the Cubs headed to the World Series, you’ll hear some names. Like Phil Cavarretta. He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1945 and the original “Mr. Cub,” …

RUSS HONS: Photo Gallery — Minnesota Twins Vs. Detroit Tigers

The Minnesota Twins aren’t having the season most of their fans were expecting, but that doesn’t stop some of them from going to a game. Grand Forks photographer Russ Hons was at Target Field on Thursday night for the second game of two the Twins played against the Detroit Tigers. And here’s what caught his eye. Check out more photos from Russ …

TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — Grading The Twins

As a college broadcasting instructor, it’s my responsibility to give each of my students an update on his or her performance about halfway through each semester.  The report is designed to praise students for their positive achievements, offer suggestions on how they might improve in other areas and, maybe most importantly, catch any trouble spots before it’s too late. While …