Patrick Reusse: Rantz mark shows on many levels

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 4, 2007 - 11:32 PM

The Twins will honor their longtime director of minor leagues tonight, mostly for being a tireless helping hand for 37 years.

George Brophy served as a Twins vice president in charge of both the minor leagues and scouting from Sherry Robertson’s death in October 1970 until January 1986.

Brophy hired Jim Rantz as his assistant. Ruth Harvison was the secretary. That was it for the Twins’ player development department.

“Don’t forget Lucky, Ruthie’s dog,” Rantz said. “It was a mutt Ruthie found abandoned on the beach in Florida. Lucky was in our office every day.” Brophy was well-known for his short temper, particularly with agents representing draft choices.

“When we first moved into this building [Metrodome], we were down the hall from the accounting office,” Rantz said.

“Broph was on the phone with an agent, and he was hollering some choice words. A woman from the accounting office came down the hall to see what was going on.

“I told her, 'Don’t worry. Broph’s just talking to his wife.’ ”

Rantz laughed in memory of his splendid execution of baseball humor and added: “When George hung up, he said, 'I guess we’re not going to sign that guy.’ ”

Calvin Griffith sold the Twins to Carl Pohlad in the summer of 1984. Brophy had health problems and was let go by the new regime late in 1985. Terry Ryan was hired as scouting director, and Rantz was promoted to minor league director in January 1986.

Add it up and Rantz has been in the Twins’ baseball department for 37 years. Before then, he was a minor league pitcher for five years, a minor league manager for a year and the public relations assistant for five years.

Rantz, 69, will become the 17th inductee in the Twins’ Hall of Fame before tonight’s game with Boston. He is being honored for long, patient, humor-filled, highly competent and tireless service.

“When I started, the minor league managers would fill out sheets with notes on each player for the game and attach a boxscore that was clipped out of the local newspaper,” Rantz said. “They would get three or four sheets, then mail them. We would get our report on a minor league team about a week after the game was played.”

On Friday, the Twins’ Class A team in Fort Myers was playing an afternoon game, with Rantz monitoring the play-by-play on the Internet.

Rantz was a hockey and baseball standout at St. Paul Washington, the long-gone high school on Rice Street. Rantz was a senior in 1956, when the Presidents reached the state hockey tournament and won the state baseball title.

“Three of us off the team — John Erickson, Milo Fuller and myself — went to a tryout camp held by the Kansas City Athletics,” he said. “They offered $500 to sign. Milo took the money, and John and I went to the university.”

The Gophers had won their first College World Series title that June. They were back in Omaha in 1960, and Rantz went 10 innings to beat Southern Cal 2-1 in a winner-take-all final game.

The Gophers came home to a hero’s welcome at Wold-Chamberlain Airport. Dick Wiencek and Angelo Giuliani, scouts for the Washington Senators, were there to offer contracts to Erickson, the College World Series MVP, and Rantz. “John signed right away,” Rantz said. “The offer to me wasn’t so good. I waited, and wound up signing for $4,200.”

In October 1960, it was announced the Washington Senators were moving to Minnesota to become the Twins. Rantz pitched four more years in the Twins organization, managed St. Cloud to a Northern League pennant in 1965, then was hired to help Tom Mee in public relations for the final days of that World Series season. He stayed in that job until being hired by Brophy.

“The first task Tom gave me was to update the stats after a game,” Rantz said. “You had all those columns and did it on a mimeograph sheet. I hunt-and-pecked for about four hours before I was finished.

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