With this being World Series time I always look back to 1987 & 1991 with fond memories. Those are the years my beloved Minnesota Twins won the Fall Classic.
In fact, it was twenty years ago today on a Saturday afternoon that the Twins were hosting the St Louis Cardinals in Game 6 at the Metrodome.
After winning the first two games at home, the Twins found themselves down 3 games to 2 after getting swept in the middle three games in St. Louis. This was typical of a club who went a stellar 56-25 at home during the regular year but a pathetic 29-52 on the road.
Things didn’t look good early in Game 6. The Cards knocked around Twins starting pitcher Les Straker and led 5-2 in the fifth inning. For a split second, I tried rationalizing with myself that it was an honor just to get to the Series. Of course, I was kidding myself. After witnessing some wretched baseball over the previous few years I desperately wanted my club to be #1.
Before I knew it, the Twins were mounting a comeback.
Kirby Puckett reached base in the fifth inning. Gary Gaetti doubled to left, scoring Puck to make it 5-3. Then late-season acquisition Don Baylor came to the plate as the tying run. BOOM!!! A two-run homer off Cards starter John Tudor and the Twins had tied it up. I was at my buddy Todd’s place in Vadnais Heights. There were four of us in the basement that day hanging on every pitch. We were going crazy when the Twins tied it. They would eventually take the lead later in the fifth when Steve Lombardozzi knocked in Tom Brunansky with a run-scoring single. It was 6-5 Twins after five innings.
But it was the next inning which many fans remember most. The Twins had loaded the bases with one out. Twins slugger Brunansky had a chance to put the game out of reach facing reliever Bob Forsch. Bruno popped out to shortstop. Now there was two outs, bases still loaded and Kent Hrbek coming up. Cards manager Whitey Herzog came out to summon lefty Ken Dayley to face the left-handed hitting Hrbek. Since there was a commercial break during the pitching change, we decided to watch some excerpts of comedian Louie Anderson on VHS. We figured we’d kill a couple of minutes until the game came back on. All of a sudden we heard the words “GRAND SLAM” come from Todd’s brother upstairs. We quickly flicked off the video and saw Kent Hrbek rounding the bases with his arms raised in elation. The hometown kid made good with a grand slam homer, giving the Twins a 10-5 lead. The four of us were literally huddled together jumping up and down in unison, all the while yelling in elation!!
The Twins would go on to tie the Series with an 11-5 win. I remember that evening driving around my neighborhood. On many a street corner, there were vendors selling Twins merchandise. Whether it was caps, pennant flags, homer hankies, etc., every corner was packed with people getting in on the fun. My brother and I drove home with both of us waving our homer hankies out the window. Not one single car had passed us by without honking in acknowledgement.
Ah, but there was work to be done. Game 7 would take place the next evening. My stomach was all tied up in knots anticipating the winner-take-all contest. Yes, I had definitely come down with a state-wide epidemic.
It was called “Twins fever”.