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tshide

My Twins Mt. Rushmore

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Originally posted at http://iowatwinsfan.com/my-twins-mt-rushmore/

Back in 2002 I traveled to Mt. Rushmore for the first time, since then I've always imagined what four faces I would put in a Twins Mt. Rushmore. So I'm going to give it a shot here. Unfortunately Minnesota does not have a suitable mountain to carve out four faces like we have in South Dakota so we'll have to use our imagination. To Twins fans I think we can refer to these four by their nicknames and you will know who I'm talking about. Killebrew from the back cover of Baseball Digest, 1962
Killer

You canít be a Twins fan from my era and not have fond memories of Harmon Killebrew. His career was about over when I started following the Twins, but I remember the feeling when I found out he would play his final season in Kansas City, I was not a happy 12 year old that day. But as I grew into being a baseball fan I learned about the dominating numbers in the late 50ís and all through the 60ís, the towering home runs, the quick swing, the raw strength, all the all-star games and the MVP in 1969. Finally there is the classic stance and swing that most people think is the inspiration for the major league baseball logo.With all of that what puts Harmon at the top of the list for me is the kind of person he is. I learned long ago never to pretend to know what kind of person a celebrity or professional athlete is. The best I can do is enjoy what they do on the field. But I can make an exception with the ďKillerĒ. Iíve gotten his autograph a couple of times and he always takes his time, says a few words, shakes your hand and really tries to connect. You have to respect a guy that takes such pride in how his signature looks to the fan. No sports or entertainment star has a better autograph.Harmon Clayton Killebrew, Hall of fame player, better person.Rod Carew in 2008
Rodney

Harmon is the first player I think of in regards to the Twins, but when I was a kid Rod Carew was my guy. He was the player that was so much fun to imitate (or try to). We did not have many chances to watch the Twins on TV in the 70's, but when you watched Mr. Carew, the images of his game stayed with you. There was the way he stepped into the batter's box, placed a hand on the top of his batting helmet (the one with no ear flaps) and settled in. Next was the way he put his weight on the his back foot, then slowly, deliberately extended the arms a few times before the pitch came in, all the while having that huge wad of bubble gum and chew in hes right cheek. He had that smooth classic swing slapping the ball wherever he wanted, swinging at the last instant. What other player made it so cool to bunt? I have a lifelong friend from back home named Mike, he was an even bigger fan of Rodney, he was always trying to drop that bunt down like Carew. Finally, on the bases, there was the smooth gate and the classic hook slide turning a single into a double and a double into a triple, and no one was better at stealing home.The first Twins game I went to was in June of 1977, that was the year he batted 0.388 and won the MVP. I saw him go 4-5 with six RBI in a 19-12 win over the White Sox. You can't ask for a better game your first time at the ballpark. Seeing Rodney leave the Twins for the Angels was a blow bigger than when Harmon left for Kansas City.Rodney Cline Carew, the classic hitter.Kirby Puckett at his retirement in 1997
Puck

As much fun as it was following the Twins as I grew up, I have to admit I was getting tired of all the mediocre seasons. We all know how the Twins developed great talent only to see them leave just as they approached their prime. That meant lots of 80-85 win seasons and no playoffs. That all changed when Kirby Puckett burst onto the scene. For me Kirby was just fun to watch. You always felt like he was going to do something special and usually he did. More than any other Twin he was a winner. The Twins would not have won the series in 1987 or 1991 without Kirby. As he famously promised, if the guys jump on his back he'd bring them home. Not only could he deliver but he did in the biggest moments.Kirby Puckett, he made it fun to be a Twins fan again.Tony Oliva in 2010
Tony O

Tony Oliva was another player near the end of his career when I started following the Twins. As I saw Tony at Twins Fest, watched him make appearances on Twins broadcasts, heard him interviewed and listened to people talk about him, I learned that he is a special personality and a big part of Twins' history. When you study baseball you appreciate what a great talent he was. In a ten year stretch from 1964 to 1973 he batted 0.300 or better seven times and was never lower than 0.289. He also had three batting titles in that span and five seasons with 90+ RBI. A great outfielder and speed and power, it has been well documented how knee injuries shorted his career. I think he should be in the Hall of Fame, too bad we can only imagine what he might have been. However, Tony O gave the Twins great years and has stayed with the club to this day giving us the gift of his great personality and style.Tony Pedro Oliva, put him in the Hall of Fame.

These are personal choices for me and Iím sure everyone has different opinions for their top four Twins; Iíd love to hear them. I know my seven year old son would pick Joe Mauer, Joe Mauer, Joe Mauer and Joe Mauer. I thought about doing a list of honorable mentions, but I would rather hear other people's ideas.
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Comments

  1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    Great post! I've been a fan since '87, so my foursome is more recent: Kirby, Frank Viola, Johan Santana and Joe Mauer.
  2. gil4's Avatar
    I did a list in my head before I clicked the link - perfect match. I did think about holding off on Tony O and saving a spot for Mauer, but I assumed we were ready to break ground now and he's not quite there yet, and no sure thing to get there now.

    Blyleven might be worth an honorable mention, although he built a fair amount of his resume between his two times with the Twins.

    Johan's list isn't very long, but the peaks were awfully high. He has two of the four Cy Young awards in team history, and he should have had a third.

    Does TK deserve an honorable mention?
  3. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
    I love it - I think 10 years from now a consensus Mt Rushmore might look like Harmon, Puck, Hrbek, Mauer. Personally I would have TK on there-- just hard to overestimate what he's done for this organization, from even before he was named manager in 86 until right up to today.
  4. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gil4
    I did a list in my head before I clicked the link - perfect match. I did think about holding off on Tony O and saving a spot for Mauer, but I assumed we were ready to break ground now and he's not quite there yet, and no sure thing to get there now.

    Blyleven might be worth an honorable mention, although he built a fair amount of his resume between his two times with the Twins.

    Johan's list isn't very long, but the peaks were awfully high. He has two of the four Cy Young awards in team history, and he should have had a third.

    Does TK deserve an honorable mention?
    haha we were typing at the same time - sometimes I think you should be Lucy and me Charlie Brown

    And you'll note my regard for TK!!!
  5. tshide's Avatar
    Does TK deserve an honorable mention?
    Of course, he is my #5.

    For me I don't think I could move Tony O off the list because he did a special thing for a friend of mine back in his playing days. One of my childhood friends had health problems and was getting treatment at Mayo when he was about 6 years old. While the doctors where talking to his parents his younger brother was in the playroom........ when his mother came to get him she noticed a man playing with him that she didn't know. Well, his father knew who he was, it was Tony Oliva. He had been at Mayo getting treatment on his knees and took it upon himself to spend some time with the boy. They have some great pictures of Tony with the family.

    If someone else like Mauer proves himself worth in the future I'd have a chisel out a new space.
  6. tshide's Avatar
    I found it hard to land of one pitcher that stood out from the rest in Twins' history. I think Johan might be the best, followed closely by Viola, Blyleven, Kaat and Perry. I remember Blyleven and Kaat but not so much Perry. Johan was just so dominant for about 5 years, and yes, he should have had three Cy Young awards.

    I think Bert is dominant personality because of his years in the TV booth, and now that he's finally in the Hall of Fame. Kaat should be in the Hall too in my opinion.
  7. gil4's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Hosken Bombo Disco
    haha we were typing at the same time - sometimes I think you should be Lucy and me Charlie Brown

    And you'll note my regard for TK!!!
    Maybe I can just say I kicked the ball for once.
  8. gil4's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by tshide
    For me I don't think I could move Tony O off the list because he did a special thing for a friend of mine back in his playing days. One of my childhood friends had health problems and was getting treatment at Mayo when he was about 6 years old. While the doctors where talking to his parents his younger brother was in the playroom........ when his mother came to get him she noticed a man playing with him that she didn't know. Well, his father knew who he was, it was Tony Oliva. He had been at Mayo getting treatment on his knees and took it upon himself to spend some time with the boy. They have some great pictures of Tony with the family.
    That's a great story, and Oliva does have the intangibles that really surpass all the others, even Killebrew. Part of that is the fact that he has always been wit the Twins, first as a player, then as a coach. I don't remember a time when Tony O wasn't an important part of the franchise, even now when I don't think he has any official coaching capacity
  9. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
    I will kick Mauer off for the moment and replace him with Tony O, then reassess later. As far as Carew, he has the baseball skills but priority for me goes to the lifers who gave their careers to this organization. As far as which pitcher, that's a tougher call.
  10. DocBauer's Avatar
    I feel almost ashamed. While reading this post I felt it was obvious who the four would be...but...I actually had an arguable Hrbek as my 4th as somehow I forgot about Oliva.

    While I think Herbie would be a great choice, and without a doubt is an all-time great, I can only plead temporary insanity.

    He was before my time, but from all I have heard and read, is Bobby Allison a consideration for the mount?
  11. DocBauer's Avatar
    I wonder if it might also be fun to simply do a separate mount for the best 4 pitchers in Twins history?

    Blyleven and Santana would have to be on it. After that I'm not as sure. Viola is a strong candidate. So might be Aguillera. Kaat?

    And what about one for non-players?

    Despite controversy, would Griffin be there? McPhail would have to be wouldn't he? TK would be a must. Ryan? Mauch? And again, despite some controversy, Pohlad?
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