Longtime Twins radio broadcaster Herb Carneal died this morning of congestive heart failure at his home in Minnetonka, the team announced.
Carneal, 83, who received the highest honor in baseball broadcasting in 1996 when he was named the recipient of the Ford C. Frick award, had spent six weeks in the hospital this winter battling a variety of ailments.
He had been scheduled to work 36 homes games this season, including the Twins opener on Monday night against Baltimore.
Carneal, though, said late last week he had decided against working that game because of his health but was hopeful of returning to the booth at some point this season.
Twins great Harmon Killebrew, who was getting ready to come to the Twin Cities from his Arizona home Sunday to attend Monday night's game, was saddened to hear the news.
"It's hard for me to say exactly what I thought about Herb Carneal," Killebrew said. "He was a wonderful man. He was not only a great announcer but a real professional. He was just a wonderful human being. We're going to miss him terribly."
Former Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek grew up in Bloomington listening to Carneal before joining the organization. He had continued to listen to Carneal since retiring in 1994.
"He has been part of Twins baseball as much as Harmon or Tony Oliva or anybody like that," Hrbek said.
"This is a sad day for the Minnesota Twins organization and millions of baseball fans across the Upper Midwest," Twins President Dave St. Peter said in a statement.
"Herb Carneal's voice was the signature element of Twins baseball for multiple generations of fans. Clearly he was one of the most beloved figures in Minnesota sports history. The Minnesota Twins will proudly dedicate the 2007 season to the memory of Herb Carneal."
St. Peter said plans for how the ballclub intends to honor Carneal at Monday's game were being discussed Sunday.
"We're going to adjust things within the pregame," St. Peter said. "I expect that fans will see both in the ballpark and obviously watching on TV and listening on radio, there will be a tribute to Carneal."
St. Peter said the Twins also likely will wear black arm bands for the game and that an on-uniform patch will be designed to honor Carneal.
Carneal joined the Twins broadcast team in 1962, the team's second season in Minnesota. He had spent the previous five seasons doing play-by-play for the Baltimore Orioles and before that had worked Philadelphia Phillies and A's games.
This would have been his 52nd season of describing major league games. Tired of the travel schedule, Carneal had cut back to just doing home games in 1998.
In addition to the honor he received from the Baseball Hall of Fame, Carneal was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Metrodome's baseball press box was renamed in his honor in 2005.
Carneal's death marks the third year in a row the Twins have lost a beloved personality just before the season. Longtime public address announcer Bob Casey died at the age of 79 in 2005, Hall of Fame center fielder Kirby Puckett passed away last March at the age of 45.
Carneal is survived by his daughter, Terri, and grandson, Matthew. A memorial service is set for 1 p.m Thursday at Colonial Church in Edina. A visitation and reception will immediately follow the service.