FORT MYERS, FLA. – Paul Molitor takes charge as the 13th manager in Twins history when workouts start Monday. Two of those, No. 1 Cookie Lavagetto (66 games) and No. 8 Johnny Goryl (72), were such short-timers in Minnesota that no reasonable opinion can be offered.
I did not cover managers of the ’60s. I did have opinions, as a dedicated Twins follower dating to April 11, 1961, when Pete Ramos shut out the Yankees in the Bronx.
Here is how I rate the 10 managers, in reverse order, that lasted at least a season with the Twins:
10. Ray Miller (1986-87). Well-respected pitching coach. Didn’t get it as a manager.
9. Cal Ermer (1967-68). Got to know him later and was a terrific gentleman. His low-key demeanor stabilized an extra-talented Twins team for “the Great Race” of 1967, but that same bunch somehow tumbled to below .500 in 1968.
8. Billy Martin (1969). One season, 97-65, and the fans loved him. He could run a game, and the alcoholism might not have owned him completely in 1969. But I saw plenty of him in other managerial settings, and Billy was a lout.
7. Bill Rigney (1970-72). Walked into a PR nightmare after the Martin firing and went 98-64 in 1970. Rig was easy to like, but also high on the bull-slinging meter.
6. Billy Gardner (1981-85). All-time character who managed the Twins’ youth movement after the apocalypse of free agency struck Calvin Griffith’s franchise.
5. Frank Quilici (1972-75). The most underrated. My first year on Twins beat full-time was 1974. Frank got an 82-80 finish out of that crew … a borderline miracle.
4. Gene Mauch (1976-80). I loved the guy. He brought the franchise back to life. The flaw: His workload abuse of key relievers was hard to digest.
3. Ron Gardenhire (2002-14). Lots of wins and took care of his pitchers. Ask Johan Santana.
2. Sam Mele (1961-67). Managed Twins to 1965 World Series in the only way possible then: by finishing first in a 10-team league.
1. Tom Kelly (1986-2001). Sharpest guy in any dugout. Ask Paul Molitor.
Plus Three from Patrick
Should this be a five-year deal for Molitor, who would be on deck as Manager 14?
Doug Mientkiewicz: People point to Dougie Baseball as next in line. Caveat: He already has the bit in his mouth to manage in the big leagues, and he could get a shot elsewhere.
Mike Redmond: Marlins owner Jeff Loria will drive him nuts eventually and Redmond will be a hot ticket on managerial lists.
Torii Hunter: It’s 2020 and Torii is managing the Twins and Kevin Garnett is coaching the Wolves. Why not? Let’s do it.