Andy MacPhail, who put the final pieces of the 1987 Twins'
puzzle together, believes the team's defining moment came during
Game 7 of its World Series triumph over St. Louis. The Twins had
fallen behind 2-0 in the second inning, and closed their deficit to
a single run entering the bottom of the fifth inning.
To those inhabiting the home dugout, this was not a time for
panic. Instead, it was a signal that there was ample time for one
more practical joke.
During the interlude between the top and bottom of the fifth
inning, someone in the Twins dugout locked public address announcer
Bob Casey in the bathroom next to the dugout, then lathered his
telephone earpiece and nearby towel with shaving cream. In short
order, Casey nearly delayed the game, coated his ear in shaving
cream when he answered a supposed emergency call, then soaked his
suit while trying to wipe off his ear.
"I'm so nervous I can hardly watch the game, much less
participate in it, and they're thinking about locking Casey in the
bathroom," MacPhail, the Twins' former general manger, said. "To me,
that's the memory that will forever highlight that group."
The Twins will gather this weekend to celebrate the 10th
anniversary of their first World Series championship. A moment of
silence would be a fitting prelude to the proceedings, because the
'87 Twins truely represent the passing of an era.
This was a team of character and characters - Bert Blyleven,
Dan Gladden, Al Newman, Tom Brunansky, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek and
Gary Gaetti to name a few - who would have been more at home in a
1950s clubhouse. They were ballplayers first, corporate entities
Of the World Series contestants since 1987, only the 1993
Philadelphia Phillies come close to matching the Twins' zany
approach, and the Phillies were beaten in six games by Toronto. As
baseball heads deeper and deeper into the modern (read big business)
era, former '87 Twins have come to realize that their kind has all
but passed from the game. Many of them were made painfully aware of
that by the time their own playing careers had ended.
What they had in the summer of '87 - the camaraderie, the daily
jokes and the simple love of the game - was never found again by
those who left the Twins. On this team, no one ate alone. Family
outings on off days were frequent occurrences.
"I remember so much more off-the-field stuff from that year,"
Hrbek said. "Parties at somebody's house, families getting together.
I think that's why everybody's so fired up about this deal the '87
reunion. You're not only going to see the guys, you're going to see
the families again."
Brunansky said that as a Twin he took it for granted that every
team was filled with players who arrived at the clubhouse early,
left several hours after games and frequently socialized away from
the ballpark. He was wrong.
"What we shared was real unique, from what I learned later,"
said Brunansky, who was traded to St. Louis early in the 1988
It was not only the clubhouse attitude that separated the Twins
from their contemporaries. The Twins were, quite literally, built
like an old-time baseball team - from the ground up.
Six members of the World Series team were rookies in 1982:
Hrbek, Gaetti, Brunansky, Frank Viola, Randy Bush and Tim Laudner.
The Class of '82 survived 102 losses in their rookie season, and by
1984 were involved in a September pennant race with Kansas City.
Puckett, who would emerge as the team's superstar, matriculated
from the Twins' farm system in 1984. The building blocks - a strong
cast of everyday players and a No. 1 starting pitcher in Viola -
were in place. Still, the 1986 Twins were 71-91 and endured their
second managerial change in two seasons when Tom Kelly replaced Ray
Miller in September.
The turning point came in two key acquisitions by MacPhail and
his staff before the 1987 season. The first was a trade that brought
closer Jeff Reardon from Montreal. Minnesota ended Ron Davis' tenure
as closer - politely described as an emotional rollercoaster - late
in a 1986 trade with the Chicago Cubs. Reardon provided instant
Said Brunansky: "I still remember sitting in the kitchen when I
heard the news and I immediately called Herbie Hrbek. I said,
`Hey, Rex, we got a shot.' "
The final piece was a trade with the Giants that brought
Gladden to the Twins three days before the end of spring training.
That deal gave the Twins a decent leadoff hitter and a strong
defensive left fielder. More important, it provided the clubhouse
with an emotional sparkplug - the one missing intangible.
"He gave us somebody on our team that guys on other teams
probably hated," catcher Tim Laudner said. "For years we'd been
playing teams where we'd say, `Gol, I hate that one guy.' . . . And
now, we finally had that guy on our team."