There were seven members of the champion 1987 Twins and manager Tom Kelly taking part in a public conversation on Friday night at TwinsFest. Roy Smalley offered a story to demonstrate the ability of Kelly to observe and to react in leading that team.
The Twins starting pitching was thin, and they were in a stretch when scoring a bunch of runs wasn’t enough to win games. After one road loss, there were suggestions from hitters that the pitchers start doing their job.
It turned into a bit of a clubhouse row, and Smalley’s thought on the way to the postgame bus was: “I hope T.K. didn’t hear that.”
And then Kelly got on the bus after it was loaded and said, “Listen,” and then told his players that a successful team was required to “row the boat” together, and not to be divided.
There was no attempt to make “row the boat” a cartoonish motto as is the case today with the leader of Gophers football, but Smalley said that brief Kelly message delivered matter-of-factly struck the perfect chord at the perfect time for the ’87 Twins.
Twins President Dave St. Peter took note of the seven players and described them as part of the most beloved Minnesota team in history. The 1991 World Series was more dramatic, but I would agree with St. Peter — the lovefest was more overwhelming the first time around in ’87.
Following those two teams, I would add these four to most beloved, going back to 1960 and the dawn of Minnesota’s major league status:
1969 Vikings. Randy Moss (1998) and Brett Favre (2009) created much hysteria for teams in later decades, but neither equaled our emotional connection to Joe Kapp’s “40 for 60” Vikings.
1981 North Stars. Madness at Met Center, with Dino and Co.
1997 Gophers basketball. If you were in San Antonio for the regional, you saw an outpouring of maroon-and-gold fandom for the ages.
1960 Gophers football. Beat No. 1 Iowa in greatest game ever at Memorial Stadium. Also: a first Rose Bowl and a national championship voted after the regular season.
PATRICK'S PLUS THREE
• Theory: Cordarrelle Patterson to running back. Truth: Idiotic. Ty Montgomery has great feet and vision. Patterson is fast in a straight line.
• Headline: North Star College Cup to end. Truth: If it had been named “The Herbie,’’ as I suggested, it would’ve become our Beanpot.
• News item: Miguel Sano admits he was not in shape for success in 2016. Truth: I told ya last March.
Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.