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Chart: Twins center fielders since 1975

  • February 16, 2013 - 6:38 PM

FRONT AND CENTER

Twins Opening Day center fielders since 1975:

Lyman Bostock, 1975-77: Budding star left for the Angels as a free agent in 1978. He was murdered on a road trip to Chicago that summer.

Dan Ford, 1978: Nicknamed "Disco" Dan; once jogged backward toward home plate, only to be passed by a baserunning teammate.

Willie Norwood, 1979: Penchant for having trouble following the flight of routine fly balls.

Rick Sofield, 1980: Greatest claim to fame as baseball player was that he turned down a football scholarship offer from Michigan.

Greg Johnston, 1981: Who? He lasted seven games in 1981, batting .125.

Jim Eisenreich, 1982-84: Suffered from a nervous disorder (later diagnosed as Tourette's syndrome), prompting manager Billy Gardner to quip, "He's doomed to become an All-Star."

Kirby Puckett, 1985-1990, 1992-93: Hall of Famer stopped the merry-go-round in center.

Shane Mack, 1991: One of Mack's 16 starts in center field that year. Puckett started 143.

Rich Becker, 1994, 1996-97: Pegged as a cornerstone of the Twins' 1990s rebuilding phase. Eight consecutive losing seasons says it all.

Alex Cole, 1995: Was batting .360 when he broke his right leg on May 30 attempting a diving catch. His downhill slide included 18 months in prison for drug conviction.

Otis Nixon, 1998: Twins' idea of a high-profile free-agent signee, the negatives being he was 39 and could barely throw the ball to second base.

Torii Hunter, 1999-2007: The two-time All-Star here made a team-record nine Opening Day starts in center before departing as a free agent.

Carlos Gomez, 2008-09: One of four players obtained from Mets for Johan Santana; now with the Brewers, he is still trying to find plate discipline.

Denard Span, 2010-12: Traded to the Nationals in the offseason, opening the door for a new Twins Opening Day center fielder in 2013.

DENNIS BRACKIN

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