Reusse: Memories bloom in Target Field statues

  • Updated: March 30, 2013 - 5:54 PM

Sculptures of our greatest Twins warm a freezing March day.

Starting at Gate 34, in center field … Kirby Puckett.

Photo: Wayne Kryduba • Twins ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Phil Collier was a grand human being and a long-serving baseball writer for the San Diego Union. He carried the nickname “The Phantom” for his habit of disappearing from a clubhouse gathering of reporters and then breaking a story in the next day’s newspaper.

The Phantom was honored in 1991 with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball reporting at the Hall of Fame. That was also the year Rod Carew was inducted as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

It was a blessing to be in attendance to see Carew take his place in Cooperstown, but also to hear Collier’s words of gratitude.

As a punch line to his speech, Phil quoted author James Barrie’s observation that “memory is what God gave us that we might have roses in December.”

Collier then gestured toward the 37 Hall of Famers sitting on the platform behind him and said, “These are my roses.”

Shivers. I had shivers. And I had them again, walking around Target Field on a frozen March afternoon.

A baseball season of low expectations for the home team was two weeks away, but it will be baseball, the game of my youth, and this walk was taken to check on our roses carved in bronze.

Kent Hrbek, the large lad from Bloomington, was guarding Gate 14 — arms thrust triumphantly after taking the throw for the final out of the 1987 World Series.

The Twins got to that seventh game thanks in large part to Hrbek’s grand slam off St. Louis lefty Ken Dayley in the sixth inning of Game 6. The Twins had clawed ahead 6-5, and then Hrbek leaned into one to set off the most thunderous roar heard in Thunderdome ’87.

There is a more distant memory for me. The Twins are in Winter Haven, Fla., for an exhibition game with Boston on a sunny March day in 1982. Hrbek is still 21 and he was more a splendid splinter than “Big Herbie” on that 6-4 frame.

We had seen the kid for seven weeks in 1981, rushed from Class A Visalia to Yankee Stadium, to debut with a home run on Aug. 24. He cooled after that. We weren’t sure he was ready to be at first base when the new Dome opened in April.

Until that spring training. Until he put a couple of drives deep into the orange grove behind the right field fence in Winter Haven. “Dang” and “double-dang,” we said that afternoon, “this kid can hit.”

You leave Big Herbie and find Tony Oliva holding forth at Gate 6. This is generic Tony O. in the statue — although there was nothing generic about the Oliva swing captured by sculptor Bill Mack.

You can’t imagine our restlessness five decades ago for the young Cuban, Oliva, to be allowed into the Twins lineup. We had seen glimpses of his line drives in two consecutive Septembers.

Finally, Oliva was in right field to open the 1964 season. There was an early-season game televised from Detroit. And this was the memory:

Detroit’s Phil Regan throws a fastball at Oliva’s head. Tony collapses out of the way. He gets up, brushes the dirt from his uniform, sets himself in the box and hits a screaming line drive to the open spaces of center field in Tiger Stadium.

Sure enough. Sunday, April 19, first game of a doubleheader. Oliva singles in the first, and when he comes around again, Regan sends Tony sprawling, and then he triples.

Best. Twins. Hitter. Ever.

  • related content

  • Near Gate 29, the second baseman … Rod Carew.

  • At Gate 3, batting cleanup … Harmon Killebrew.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 85 4th Qtr 6:42
Denver 84
Indiana 93 4th Qtr 4:24
LA Clippers 92
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 64 1st OT 3:20
UNLV 64
CS-Northridge 46 2nd Half 6:51
Oregon 71
Grambling St 35 2nd Half 3:30
Washington 82
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
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 Ervin Santana signing by the Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close