Tom Kelly spent 11 seasons as a professional baseball player — including a brief stint with the Minnesota Twins in 1975 — but it was as a manager that he made his mark.
Kelly was born in Graceville, Minn., while his father, Joseph Kelly, was playing semi-pro baseball. Kelly, who grew up in New Jersey, began his professional baseball career in 1968 after he was selected in the eighth round by the Seattle Pilots of the Major League Baseball Amateur draft. In 1971, he signed as a minor-league free agent with the Minnesota Twins.
Kelly spent two months of the 1975 season with the Twins, appearing in 49 games.
He spent the 1977 season as the player-manager of the Twins' Tacoma farm team in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. After playing for the Twins' Toledo farm team in 1978, he became the manager of the Twins' Visalia farm team in the Class A California League. He managed Visalia for two seasons and Double-A Orlando for one year before becoming a Twins coach in 1983.
Late in the 1986 season, Kelly replaced Ray Miller as the Twins manager.
In 1987, his first full-season as the Twins manager, Kelly directed the Twins to an 85-77 record and the A.L. West Division title. At the age of 37, he was the youngest manager to lead a team into the A.L. playoffs. The Twins went on to win the World Series, making Kelly the fifth manager in major-league history to lead a team to a World Series title in his first full season in the majors.
The next season, the Twins won 91 games, their first 90-victory season since 1970.
After finishing in last place with a 74-88 record in the A.L. West in 1990, the Twins rebounded to a 95-67 to the win the division title. The Twins went on to defeat the Atlanta Braves in the World Series as Kelly became the manager to win in two or more World Series without losing one.
On May 7, 2000 the Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers, 4-0, for Kelly's 1,000th career victory. He became the 46th manager in major-league history to win at least 1,000 games. At the time, he was just the sixth manager in major-league history to win 1,000 games with the only team he had managed.
Kelly stepped down as the Twins manager following the 2001 season. In his 15-plus seasons, he managed the Twins to 1,140 victories.
His 15-plus years as the Twins manager are the longest consecutive-season tenure in the franchise's history.
Team: Minnesota Twins.