Reusse column on Tom Kelly after the 1991 World Series

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 6, 2012 - 10:41 PM

I started writing sports columns in the Twin Cities in 1979. There have been over 8,000 through the years. This might be my favorite -- a column written for the Star Tribune of Oct. 29, 1991. The scene was Tom Kelly’s office in the Metrodome, in the hours after the Twins won Game 7 of the World Series:


When Tom Lasorda wins the World Series, old crooners such as Frank Sinatra and Jerry Vale drop by the manager's office to schmooze. On Monday morning, 90 minutes after he had equaled Lasorda's World Series championship total (two), Tom Kelly was schmoozing with Lunch McKenzie.

"You know Lunch, don't you?" Kelly said. "He runs the visiting locker room for the Vikings and Gophers games. He's the general manager of our fantasy football team - the TKs."

Kelly and Lunch were puffing on long, dark brown cigars. Even a visitor who believes this stuff about secondary smoke is nonsense feared for his lungs in this environment. Tammany Hall never had a room filled with this much cigar smoke.

A young voice from the corner offered an observation. "I don't know why you didn't play Derrick Fenner," the voice said. It was Tom Kelly Jr., the 12-year-old son of the Twins manager.

"Derrick Fenner and Drew Hill . . . we didn't play either of 'em," Kelly Sr. said. "Fenner scored two. Hill caught a 90-yarder. We left 20 points sitting on the bench."

Lunch smiled and took another hit off his cigar. "We had other things on our minds," he said.

Lunch was distracted by his pal Kelly's attempt to manage another winner in the World Series. Sparky Anderson managed back-to-back winners in Cincinnati in 1975-76. Since then, only one manager, Lasorda, had two Series winners - in 1981 and 1988. So, by early yesterday morning, Kelly had scored the quickest World Series repeat victories, 1987 and 1991, that baseball has seen in 15 years.

Atlanta? The capital of the New South is now 0-for-82 in the quest for championships by its major sports teams. The Braves, the Hawks, the Falcons and long-departed Flames have played a combined 82 seasons, without bringing a title to the city.

The Twin Cities? We have two World Series titles in five seasons and an outstanding softball team at the University of Minnesota. How lucky can a community get?

Good and lucky over the weekend. Four years ago, pitching coach Dick Such discovered the existence of the Dome gods. This happened in the middle of the '87 season, when a tying run was scampering from first on a drive hit to deep center field.

"Make it bounce, Dome gods," Such yelled.

The ball landed, took a high hop over the fence for a ground-rule double, the tying and winning runs were stranded on second and third, and the Dome gods helped to carry the Twins all the way to their first World Series title (4-0 at home, 0-3 on the road).

On Sunday night, the Dome gods had made one of their most-dramatic intercessions. Lonnie Smith was flying off first, Terry Pendleton's drive was reaching the gap in deep left-center, and Atlanta was about to take a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning of Game 7. Then, Lonnie stopped at second, stood there, five feet past the base, looking for the whereabouts of the baseball.

"I don't want to say anything negative on the guy," Kelly said. "He was outstanding against us . . . hit three home runs. But when Lonnie stopped out there, all I could think was, `What is he doing?' "

Smith had to check in at third base. Pendleton went to second. There were no outs, but Black Jack Morris - after getting the intervention of the Dome gods - stranded Smith and Pendleton. The Twins were the team that won it, 1-0 in 10 - the team that won the
1991 World Series (4-0 at home, 0-3 on the road).

"They were some ball games," Kelly said. "They were games! Saturday night . . . Kirby (Puckett) hits the home run. Tonight, Morris . . . you don't do what he did. You can't write a script like that. And Geno Larkin? Bases loaded, one out, bottom of the 10th, no
score. A lot of guys go up in that situation a little nervous about pulling the trigger. Geno goes up there on one leg, takes a whack at the first pitch he sees, and we win. They were games!"

You have never heard the Twins manager like this on the Big Neighbor on Sunday morning. You have never seen the Twins manager like this in front of the mini-cams. It was approaching 1 a.m. and the guy from New Jersey was a combination of Jay Leno and Red Smith.

"I remember the '75 Series - Cincinnati and Boston," Kelly said. "I was just a fan, watching in Jersey, and they had all those rainouts. You didn't mind it, because that meant there would be a game to watch tomorrow. You thought, `We get tomorrow.' That Series was so good you wanted to have a tomorrow.

"It's different in the dugout - your palms are sweating, you're working, you're dying - but, for the fans watching, they probably felt the same way I did in '75. These games were so good they couldn't wait for tomorrow."

There was a knock on the door and the bearded, Latin mug of Adalberto Ortiz Jr. appeared. "Here or here?" he asked the manager, pointing at the ring fingers on his left and right hands.

"That's up to you, Junior," Kelly said.

"I'll be at the parade Tuesday, but I have to go back to Puerto Rico on Tuesday," Junior said. "I won't be able to go to the White House. I don't care. I see that guy (George Bush) on TV all the time. Who needs him?

"All I want is (ring size) 9 1/2, please. That's all . . . 9 1/2, please."

Randy Bush walked in. He played for Kelly on a championship team in Class AA Orlando in 1981. He played for Kelly on the '87 champions. He is one of T.K.'s boys. He reached over the desk and exchanged a bear hug with the manager. "Why can't we blow anybody out? Why does it always have to be one run, in extra innings?" Bush said. "We needed a blowout. This was too hard on the nerves. I have a headache. My gut is killing me. I suppose next spring, we'll blow out Mercer College, when nobody gives a darn."

Chili Davis walked in. Looked around. Saw a couple reporters and didn't know whether he wanted to say what he had to say. "What are you up to, Mr. Davis?" Kelly asked.

"Just wanted to say that I would like to play for you next year," Davis said.

Kelly stood up, shook hands with Chili and said: "Be my guest."

Tell us about Davis, Kelly was asked, after Chili had left. He seems too aloof to be a hard worker.

"You're dead wrong about that," Kelly said. "You know that machine . . . where you get in there and wheel with both arms? If I did it for four minutes, I'd be dead. This spring, I was going to ride the bike in the exercise room, and Chili climbed into that machine. He said he was going 30 minutes.
“ I told him, `No chance. No one can do that.' I had to stay and watch. Chili put those
headphones on, and he started pumping those wheels - he wasn't lollygagging, he was pumping - for 30 minutes. He didn't do that once a day in the spring. He did it twice a day."

The reporter asked about Sunday's architect of the 10-inning shutout _ Morris. "He can be an SOB," Kelly said. "Some days, he comes in with that look and you know you better come up with a line, get something stirred up and get him talking, or he is going to be walking around with that look all day.

"What a man, though. I told him after nine, `Jack, I love you, baby, but that's enough.' He looked at me and said, `I want to pitch.' What are you going to do?"

The large face of Kent Hrbek - sporting a couple of days' worth of beard - stepped in. "How did the Hogs come out?" Kelly asked. The Hogs are Hrbek's struggling fantasy football team.

"The Hogs won," Hrbek said. "That's why I'm in awe. The Twins won the World Series and the Hogs won, too."

Kelly said: "Try calling your wife again, Lunch. We got to find out about the TKs."

The line had been busy earlier; now the phone was ringing. Mrs. Lunch had been charged with monitoring the football summaries.

Kelly took the phone and the person on the other end obviously offered congratulations. "We already won that game," Kelly said. "That's old news. What we want to know is what happened with the TKs?’’
     
 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 34 FINAL
Atlanta 3
Detroit 20 FINAL
Green Bay 30
Oakland 14 FINAL
Denver 47
Arizona 17 FINAL
San Francisco 20
St. Louis 6 FINAL
Seattle 20
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Pittsburgh 27
Arizona 1/3/15 3:35 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 1/3/15 7:15 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 103 FINAL
Cleveland 80
Houston 106 FINAL
San Antonio 110
Oklahoma City 107 FINAL
Dallas 112
New York 79 FINAL
Portland 101
Toronto 116 FINAL
Denver 102
Phoenix 116 FINAL
LA Lakers 107
Toronto 4 FINAL
Florida 6
Vancouver 1 FINAL(OT)
Anaheim 2
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
NJIT 71 FINAL
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
UMKC 73 FINAL
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Bradley 68
Loyola-Maryland 61 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Miss Valley St 53 FINAL
Houston 80
Lehigh 58 FINAL
UMBC 55
Delaware State 56 FINAL
Temple 66
Belmont 56 FINAL
Butler 67
Howard 59 FINAL
Fordham 74
NW Christian 67 FINAL
Nevada 81
UC Davis 83 FINAL
Washington St 90
Abilene Christian 81 FINAL
Grand Canyon 83
UCLA 50 FINAL
Alabama 56
Stony Brook 62 FINAL
Washington 57
Buffalo 56 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
CS-Bakersfield 55 FINAL
California 52
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
UCLA 67
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Colgate 68 FINAL
Siena 80
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
(16) Stanford 90
Long Island 63 FINAL
Long Beach St 71
Jackson State 56 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Eureka 50 FINAL
Western Ill 91
Cornell 59 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 76
Temple 58 FINAL
Memphis 57
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close