FARIBAULT, MINN. – Tyler Eisenreich was a 5-year-old and demonstrating a strong holiday spirit with his choice of piano music.
Lauren, then 8, had been taking piano lessons and passed along the basics to a curious brother. This allowed Tyler to play chords for "Joy to the World,'' which he did over and over.
And over again.
This information comes from a Star Tribune piece written for Christmas Day 1999, after a visit to the home of Jim and Leann Eisenreich in the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs, Mo.
Eisenreich was 40 and had retired that year, after playing 1,422 regular-season games with 4,391 plate appearances in the big leagues. There were also those two runs to the World Series, a six-game loss with the flaky Phillies in 1993 and a seven-game victory with the mercurial Marlins in 1997.
Four children would come to the Eisenreichs: Lauren, Tyler, Zachary and Matthew. And when I had a chance to shoot a fair amount of breeze with "Eisey" on Thursday, it definitely was worth a smile to discover Tyler's musical talents progressed substantially from those early days on the family piano.
"Tyler's on Broadway,'' Eisenreich said. "He had a good role in a revival of 'West Side Story' in the spring of 2020, and then it was shut down right away along with the rest of Broadway by the pandemic.
"Some of the plays came back, but that one didn't.''
Eisenreich then smiled and said: "Tyler's really good. He did many things theatrical in the Kansas City area before moving to New York. Singer, dancer, all of it. He's the best athlete in the family."
Lauren, 31, trains managers for FedEx and coaches a high school softball team. Zachary, 24, works with a tutoring company in Atlanta. Matthew, 21, is a junior at Truman State in Kirksville, Mo.
Tyler is working smaller events in New York and waiting for his next shot on Broadway. If he has doubts about that at age 28, all that's required is to take the example from dear old dad and hang in there.
Eisenreich was two weeks shy of his 23rd birthday when he came directly from Class A ball to leading off and playing center field for the Twins on April 6, 1982, the first Opening Night in the Metrodome.
And it would be 1989 before Eisenreich was fully re-established as a big-leaguer. He mostly pinch-hit for a week, and then Royals manager John Wathan put him in the lineup, and Eisey batted .293 in 134 games, and he was back — not quite as fast as he had been, maybe a bit less perfect with the swing, but he was a relied-on big leaguer through age 38.
Tourette's Syndrome, originally misdiagnosed, then more diabolical as attention increased, had limited Eisenreich to 34 games in 1982, two in 1983 and 10 in April 1984. He would come back for two games in late May, and then went home to St. Cloud.
By then, Kirby Puckett arrived to take over center field, and as the Twins stumbled and rumbled through an unlikely attempt at a division title, the observation "I wonder how Eisey's doing" was made with decreasing frequency.
Those of us who were in Faribault's American Legion hall on Thursday night can offer an opinion on that:
Eisey's 63, doing dang fine and looks like he still could hit.
Bill Nelson, Dundas Duke for life, organized an event to honor previous MVPs for all classes of the state amateur baseball tournament (which opened Friday in Faribault, Dundas and Miesville).
Sixty-two of these MVPs — fathers and sons, brothers, uncles and nephews, among them — were in attendance. Included were two big-leaguers:
Terry Steinbach, 1980, for New Ulm after his senior year of high school, and Eisenreich, 1984, for Beaudreau's of St. Cloud, after he left the Twins and the state baseball board OK'd an appeal to rapidly reinstate his amateur status.
"I don't remember all of what happened during that tournament," Eisenreich said. "I was on medication and would sleep in the back of a bus on the drive from St. Cloud to our games. I didn't think I hit that well; the numbers weren't that good."
Witnesses disagree. "All I can remember are the line drives," Bill Nelson said.
Joe Kreger, a current state board member, said: "His team came to Green Isle for a game that summer. I told the first baseman to stand on the bag. Eisenreich still got a line drive between him and the bag.
"What a hitter."
Yes. And what a loyal soul, coming in from Kansas City to say thank you to town-team baseball for showing him he still could hit.
Eisenreich and Steinbach both talked to the audience of 200. Eisey went longer than Steiny.
"If you had me here when I was 25, I wouldn't have said more than three words," he said. "Now, I won't shut up."