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Secret Gardenhire

We interrupt the celebration soon to come with a funny story.

It was a few years ago that I found myself amongst other media members in the Minnesota Twins clubhouse at Fenway Park, and following a victory over the Red Sox, I wanted to hear what their manager had to say.

Ron Gardenhire's post-game press conferences aren't that different from others that you may have seen or heard on TV, except that this one had one exception.

I had been standing still for the better part of the first couple of minutes of questions, than after one particular inquiry and response, I took about a half-step back. Gardenhire noticed.

He motioned to the writer who asked the question and said: "Did you just do something, because that guy (pointing to me) has a look on his face like you just farted or something."

The mood-lightening worked, as everyone had a good chuckle, and the Q&A continued unimpeded.

I did a little research and discovered that Gardenhire has a rep of being a bit of a jokester and a prankster, with a good appreciation for baseball history. Apparently there was a time when he used to carry around the Baseball Encyclopedia, to get it autographed by other baseball gamesmen.

Gardenhire didn't have much of a playing career, but made it through a season as a starter with the first Mets team for which I have strong memories, the 65-97 squad from 1982.

It was at the conclusion of this particular season that Gardenhire had his most Metmorable moment. The Mets and Expos slogged through a doubleheader in front of 50,000+ empty seats, so not too many will recall the games of September 21 (I don't), but Gardenhire should remember the first one fondly. So should Rick Ownbey who somehow yielded only one run in 6 1/3 innings, despite allowing six hits and eight walks. The Mets "rally" in the sixth, which tied the score at one, was the result of three walks and a force play.

This wasn't a particularly entertaining game until the last of the 10th inning, when Bryn Smith's second pitch never reached Gary Carter's mitt. Instead, Gardenhire clubbed it over the left field fence for a game-winning home run, the second of four round-trippers in his big league days. The New York Times story noted "Gardenhire made no effort to conceal his exuberance as he romped around the bases..."

There were no particularly entertaining words from Gardenhire following that game and that may have something to do with his two errors in Game 2 of the double dip (a Mets loss). Nor did there seem to be any on Wednesday when Gardenhire announced that his phenom lefty, Francisco Liriano was done for the year with what is likely a serious injury.

I don't particularly have an interest in who wins the American League pennant, but I must admit that a small part of me would be curious to see what Gardenhire would have to say if his team emerged on top. A good fart joke would certainly be a nice change of pace from the usual boring chatter.

True Metsenhires know...Ron Gardenhire entered Thursday with 444 wins as Twins manager. Two of those were walk-off wins against the Mets. I'm not 100 percent sure of this, as I only gave it a cursory glance, but I believe that only Joe Torre, Ron Gardenhire and Ray Knight have gotten the winning hit in a walk-off win for the Mets, and managed a walk-off win against the Mets.


Anonymous said…
Dick Young, assessing the Mets' needs after firing Joe Torre in 1981, noted they could use a new shortstop and added, parenthetically, "Ron Gardenhire's got the fire."

Perhaps it was fire in the belly after all.

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