Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Knoblauch deserves his place in Twins Hall of Fame

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: January 24, 2014 - 1:49 PM

The first time I had a serious discussion with Tom Kelly over the possibility of Chuck Knoblauch taking over as a rookie second baseman for the 1991 Twins was 2 ½ weeks before the start of spring training.

The reason I found this worth mentioning is the conversation took place in Kelly’s Metrodome office, and apparently the Twins were preparing to kick off the first-ever Twins Fest.

“It must be a big deal,’’ Kelly said on that morning of Feb. 1. “People are running around the halls, yelling at one another, trying to get ready for this thing.’’

Kelly was entering his fifth full season. The Twins had won a World Series in his first, in 1987, but they slipped all the way to 74-88 in 1990.

The manager was talking optimistically. He was pleased with the signing of designated hitter Chili Davis and satisfied with Mike Pagliarulo as the main replacement at third base for the lost Gary Gaetti.

Looking back at the column I wrote from that conversation … our pal T.K. was overly cheery. He must have been confident there was more help to come his way, and there was: Jack Morris signed on Feb. 5.

As for second base, Kelly wasn’t ready to commit to Knoblauch, entering his third pro season, but the other option was Nelson Liriano. Later, Kelly would say of Knoblauch over Liriano, “It wasn’t a tough decision.’’

T.K., Chilly, Pags, Black Jack, Knobby … they won a World Series that October. In November, Knoblauch was announced as the American League’s Rookie of Year.

We had our short, all-time superstar in Kirby Puckett then, and now there was another short standout on those world champs. We loved Puck the most, but that didn’t make us love Knobby less.

I was an admirer of Knoblauch for the manner in which he came back each season dedicated to improve an element of his game: aggressive base stealing one year, more doubles the next ... get better at turning the double play, take extra bases that will lead to more runs scored.

Knobby was a terrific player in his seven seasons in Minnesota. He was the best second baseman in Twins’ history, if you look at Rod Carew as a player who played second for a hunk of time before moving to his best defensive position at first base.

For sure, Knoblauch was the best eligible player not yet to be voted into the Twins Hall of Fame. There were conspiracy theories that somehow the Twins were manipulating the votes to keep out Knoblauch, because of the rude falling out that took place after the ’97 season… with Knobby’s demand of a trade.

That was not true.

There were suggestions that a number media members on the panel of 62 voters considered Knobby to be a pain and thus avoided voting for him.

I knew about the number of teammates and Twins' support folks that he had irritated. That wasn’t an issue for me. I asked questions and Knobby answered them. That’s all I’m ever looking for in dealings with a player.

And even if he told me to go perform an anatomically impossible act, it wouldn’t have made a difference in my voting. Heck, there’s a right-handed curveball pitcher in the Hall of Fame who once threw baseballs at me in Arlington Stadium, and I voted for him until he finally made the Hall of Fame located in Cooperstown, N.Y.

I spent several years lobbying, protesting and finally screaming to get my younger colleagues to vote Camilo Pascual into the Twins Hall of Fame. Once that happened in 2012, my soul was at rest when it came to historical recognition for Twins.

I voted for two players on this year’s ballot: Knoblauch and Cesar Tovar.

The Twins announced Friday at a media luncheon preceding the 24th Twins Fest that Knoblauch will be the 2014 inductee.

Forget the trade demand that led to him winning three more World Series rings with the Yankees. Forget the raucous boos when he first returned with New York in 1998. Forget the idiots throwing the Dome dogs at Knobby when he was stationed in left field in May 2001.

Remember these items instead: 153 games played, 701 plate appearances, 140 runs, 197 hits (62 for extra bases), .341 batting average and .448 on-base.

Those were Knoblauch’snumbers in 1996.

When you can put a season like that around six others of high performance, you’re a Twins Hall of Famer. There’s no controversy to be found in that.


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Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
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Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
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
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Atlanta 108 4th Qtr 8:00
Cleveland 81
Phoenix 93 4th Qtr 8:51
Charlotte 94
Dallas 53 3rd Qtr 11:25
Detroit 54
Utah 55 3rd Qtr
Miami 41
Orlando 63 3rd Qtr 7:17
Boston 65
Brooklyn 41 2nd Qtr 5:57
Toronto 34
Memphis 14 1st Qtr 6:00
San Antonio 6
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Houston 9:30 PM
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 1 3rd Prd
New Jersey 0
Boston 2 2nd Prd
Minnesota 1
Dallas 9:00 PM
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 67 2nd Half 1:45
Ball State 47
SIU Edwardsville 60 2nd Half 1:00
Campbell 64
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 55 2nd Half 7:34
Florida State 76
Catawba 69 2nd Half 0:20
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 44 2nd Half 3:22
Illinois 70
Gardner-Webb 65 2nd Half 1:07
Jacksonville 66
Longwood 54 2nd Half 2:24
Miami-Ohio 63
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 65 2nd Half 1:38
NC State 72
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 52 2nd Half 1:49
Pittsburgh 59
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 88 2nd Half 0:27
Youngstown St 81
Barber-Scotia 52 2nd Half 0:17
NC Central 109
Detroit 43 2nd Half 11:04
UCF 54
Liberty 37 2nd Half 11:04
UNC-Wilmington 40
TX A&M-CC 18 1st Half 0:13
Denver 36
Ark-Pine Bluff 27 2nd Half
Houston 16
UT Martin 18 2nd Half
Illinois State 28
Milligan 34 1st Half 3:00
Louisiana 52
Abilene Christian 29 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 38
USC Upstate 29 2nd Half
Memphis 42
Alcorn State 24 2nd Half
Murray State 40
Central Mich 36 2nd Half
Northwestern 29
Georgia State 27 2nd Half
Old Dominion 23
TX-Pan American 26 1st Half 0:33
Saint Louis 33
Ill-Chicago 15 2nd Half
SMU 29
Texas State 30 2nd Half
Stephen F Austin 27
SC State 23 1st Half 0:04
Texas Tech 51
Missouri State 28 2nd Half
Tulsa 29
Chicago State 33 2nd Half
Western Ky 37
Morehead State 20 1st Half 3:48
Green Bay 30
Northern Colorado 32 2nd Half
Nebraska Omaha 46
Winthrop 8:00 PM
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
San Diego St 8:00 PM
Eastern Mich 8:00 PM
Michigan State
Loyola Marymount 8:00 PM
Incarnate Word 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
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Cal Poly
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Portland 9:30 PM
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Grambling St 10:00 PM
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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
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South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
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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
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
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
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Northern Colorado 41 2nd Half 3:44
South Florida 80
Youngstown St 61 1st OT
Robert Morris 61
Northwestern 86 2nd Half 0:43
NC A&T 66 1st OT
Appalachian St 66
NC Central 52 2nd Half
Coastal Carolina 67
Alabama State 51 2nd Half 1:24
Georgia Tech 75
Morehead St 51 2nd Half 7:57
USC Upstate 57
Arkansas-Monticello 25 2nd Half
Northwestern St 21
Prairie View 34 2nd Half 16:04
Sam Houston St 33
McNeese State 19 1st Half 0:05
(3) Texas 44
Yale 40 2nd Half
Wagner 32
Oakland 25 1st Half 0:50
TX A&M-CC 28
Eastern Kentucky 41 2nd Half
Alabama A&M 20
SIU-Edwardsville 17 1st Half 0:31
Northern Ill 34
McMurry 8 2nd Half
TX-Arlington 49
Portland 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
North Texas 9:00 PM
San Francisco
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