Torii Hunter, his former teammate and manager Paul Molitor said Saturday, was a special player not only because of his talents on the field but because of “the way he’s been able to influence other people, and other players. … He’s symbolic of a lot of things we try to do here.”
So it was hardly a surprise a couple of hours later, when the focus was on the Twins’ longtime center fielder, that Hunter turned his own focus to the state of the world around him. As he concluded his thank-yous while being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame, he added a plea: Heal the hate.
“This is the United States of America, and the word ‘united’ means togetherness,” Hunter told the Target Field crowd and his fellow Hall of Famers. “… We must love the one next to us, no matter the color of someone’s skin, gender, views or religious preferences.”
With nearly two dozen family members watching, Hunter became the 27th person inducted into the franchise’s hall, with longtime radio broadcaster John Gordon set to join him in a separate ceremony before Sunday’s game. Hunter was introduced by his close friend, former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Guardado, the team’s bullpen coach who wore a HOF blazer over his uniform for the event.
Hunter, whose Twins career included 12 seasons, 1,343 hit, 214 home runs, two All-Star appearances and seven consecutive Gold Glove awards, thanked everyone from his parents to his wife, Katrina, to his three managers with the Twins: Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire and Molitor. “Tom Kelly, he whipped me into shape,” Hunter said. As for Gardenhire, “I struck out against Charlie Liebrandt and asked Gardy, ‘What’s the pitch with a dot in the middle?’ [Gardenhire] said, ‘Well, Torii, that’s a slider. You might want to learn to hit it.’ ”
He also thanked the Pohlad family, owners of the Twins, because “those checks were nice.” And he had a special thank you for longtime Twins clubhouse attendant Wayne Hattaway. “When I was in a slump, he told me, ‘You know what? You couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a boat,’ ” Hunter said, laughing.
Might Hunter someday be employed again by the Twins? It could happen, Terry Ryan said. “When he’s ready, he’ll call me,” the general manager said of a possible coaching or consulting position.
An MLB leader
Trevor May knows the numbers. But, he insists, they don’t mean what you think.
May took over the major league lead for wild pitches by a reliever on Friday night, bouncing a slider to Yan Gomes past Kurt Suzuki, a pitch that enabled Mike Napoli to score from third. It was the eighth wild pitch of the season for May, and the fourth time it’s resulted in a run scoring.
Eight wild pitches are more than the other six relievers currently in Minnesota’s bullpen have combined, and they are more, in just 30 innings this season, than in his 160 career innings before this season.
Which is why May has a word for what’s going on with all the wild pitches: Fluke.
“It’s an aberration. It’s not general wildness, it’s breaking balls in the dirt,” May said. “I’ve heard about it. People say, ‘Why’s he so wild?’ Well, it’s not me being wild. I mean, I have 11 walks and  strikeouts.”
“His stuff is conducive to pitches getting away — high velocity, high spin rate on his curveball,” Molitor said.