Twins Hall of Fame welcomes Mee, Guardado

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 15, 2013 - 12:33 AM

One was funny and emotional, the other quiet and encouraging. Eddie Guardado and Tom Mee went into the Twins’ Hall of Fame on Friday in much the same way they earned that distinction.

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After the fans chanted “Ed-die!” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blared, former Twins closer Eddie Guardado pumped his fist after his ceremonial first pitch. At right was former Twins PR director Tom Mee.

Photo: KYNDELL HARKNESS • kyndell.harkness@startribune.com,

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One was funny and emotional, the other quiet and encouraging. Eddie Guardado and Tom Mee went into the Twins’ Hall of Fame on Friday in much the same way they earned that distinction.

“This wouldn’t have happened if not for 2002, when [the Twins] named Gardy the manager and he named me closer,” Guardado said of Ron Gardenhire. “I thought he was sick.”

Actually, he was smart; Guardado saved an American League-high 45 games that year, as the Twins won the first of three consecutive AL Central titles, and added 41 more the following year.

“He didn’t have the best fastball and he didn’t have the best breaking ball, but he had courage. He had that desire out there, and he brought it every day,” Gardenhire said.”He had that smile on his face that kept everybody positive, but when it was his turn to take the ball, he was a very serious guy out there.”

The ceremony to induct the 25th and 26th members was mostly lighthearted, though, with Gardenhire, pitching coach Rick Anderson, and former teammates Torii Hunter and A.J. Pierzynski taking turns extolling, and joking about, the lefty during a pretaped feature. Even current closer Glen Perkins had a good line: “Thanks for paving the way for a soft-tossing lefty like me.”

Guardado grew emotional as he thanked his teammates, the scouts who signed him, the Twins organization, and his family.

“I told myself when I leave this game, I don’t want to be remembered by what I did on the field,” he said. “I want to be remembered for the person I was.”

Mee was described as “a humble person and a good guy” by another Hall of Famer, longtime farm director Jim Rantz, who was hired by Mee in 1961, the Twins’ first season in Minnesota. Mee served 30 years with the team in many capacities, but mostly as the team’s public-relations director. And true to form, he spent much of his speech encouraging fans to get behind the current team.

“Hang in there, fans,” he concluded, promising that the franchise will again be “champions in the American League.”

Plouffe returns

Following Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Tigers, the Twins activated third baseman Trevor Plouffe from the disabled list. Plouffe, who missed 22 games because of back-to-back stints on the DL, hit .333 in four rehabilitation games at Class AAA Rochester.

The Twins sent Chris Herrmann back to Rochester despite his impressive stint in the majors. He hit .462 with a home run and four RBI in 13 at-bats.

Etc.

Josh Willingham experienced some minor soreness in his knees last weekend, Gardenhire said, so he served as the designated hitter Friday for the fourth game in a row. Twins trainers said “the more you let him DH right now, the better his legs are going to be,” Gardenhire said.

• The Twins will be at the ballpark early Saturday, as part of the team’s Hope Week charities. All players will take part in playing Wiffle ball, kickball and Frisbee with children from service organizations People Serving People, CommonBond and Mary’s Place, beginning at 11 a.m.

Wilkin Ramirez will also serve a rehab stint before being activated from the disabled list, General Manager Terry Ryan said. Ramirez, who went on the DL on May 26, worked out again Friday and could be ready soon,.

• Tigers manager Jim Leyland grew testy before the game when asked about closer Jose Valverde, who on Wednesday in Kansas City blew his third save of the season. Valverde came in with a four-run lead Friday and pitched a scoreless ninth, though he walked Joe Mauer and hit Willingham.

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