The Twins knew Brad Radke was close to announcing his retirement. They just weren't sure when.
Radke plans to make it official Tuesday with a press conference at the Metrodome, ending a 12-year major league career spent entirely with the Twins.
Radke was first called up to the big leagues in 1995. With a team that would go 56-88 in a strike-shortened season, he won 11 games his rookie year. The Twins would finish with a losing record in each of Radke’s first six seasons, a period which saw him win 78 games.
Because Radke was the only consistent performer for what had become a moribund franchise, he was rewarded with a 4-year, $36 million extension in the middle of the 2000 campaign. Radke’s loyalty was rewarded as the Twins had a winning season in 2001, their first since 1992. He was also on the mound for the Twins first playoff victory since 1991, a Game 1 win over Oakland in the 2002 AL Divisional Series. The Twins would go on to win that series, with Radke putting in a stellar performance in the Game 5 clincher.
Despite winning 20 games in 1997, Radke will be most remembered for his final season in 2006. He went 12-9 while pitching with a torn labrum and a stress fracture in the shoulder socket of his pitching arm. What Radke had to endure in the 4-5 days between starts was the stuff of folklore. He literally would not use right arm to pour milk, brush his teeth or comb his hair on the days he didn’t pitch.
With 148 career victories, the baseball Hall of Fame is not likely to beckon. However, given the class, professionalism and grittiness he displayed over 12 seasons, we Twins fans would be fortunate to see his kind around here again.