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Friday, September 07, 2012

Former Twins manager Tom Kelly: I ‘took the game of baseball very personal’

Twins will retire former manager Tom Kelly s number…and it ain’t for his slumberous announcing or his term as president of the Todd Walker Fan Club.

I think some of the younger players during the ‘90s I might have been a little rough on. I was only trying to find out who could play and who couldn’t play. It was nothing malicious.

A guy like Todd Walker, he was a terrific hitter. I mean, he could hit. He could really hit, especially with nobody on. You got some men on and he wasn’t as good, and those numbers will prove that. But he didn’t want to work on his fielding at all. It was like embarrassing for him to do that. We’d try to get him to go work, and he’d get mad. We were just trying to help him. Maybe I was a little rough on him because pitching and defense was our way. He was an excellent hitter. He almost won the batting title one year. He was hitting .330-something right until the last week or two. Then he fell apart. It got to be too much for him, but he really was a good hitter. You really enjoyed watching him hit.

Todd felt bad about practicing in front of other people. If the other team still was in the dugout at 3:30 p.m., he didn’t want to go out there while they could watch. When they were all gone, then he’d go out.

You know what bothered him a lot? (Boston Red Sox standout Nomar) Garciaparra because Garciaparra turned into the real deal and he was picked ahead of Garciaparra. (The Twins picked Walker eighth overall in the 1994 amateur draft; the Red Sox selected Garciaparra 12th overall that year.) He couldn’t handle that. He let those kind of things bother him. He was a good guy. He just didn’t want to practice on the things he needed to practice on.

Repoz Posted: September 07, 2012 at 05:14 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: twins

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   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 07, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4229061)
well, todd was hitting .332 the last week of august and then a mediocre september dropped him to .316

bernie williams won the batting title at .339

tom is't that far off

where is cutting himself some slack is how he treated walker. walker, like david ortiz, was not a tom kelley type of player. period. and tom let everyone know it. he thought walker was a bad second baseman and wasn't shy about saying so.
   2. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 07, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4229065)
He could really hit, especially with nobody on. You got some men on and he wasn’t as good, and those numbers will prove that.

His career line with no one on .288/.346/.440

It plummets to .290/.350/.427 with runners on. To be fair to Tom with RISP it is .261/.337/.383
   3. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 07, 2012 at 08:55 AM (#4229070)
Todd felt bad about practicing in front of other people. If the other team still was in the dugout at 3:30 p.m., he didn’t want to go out there while they could watch. When they were all gone, then he’d go out.


So why not take him somewhere he could work out without the other team around? Obviously it's a bit problematic if an MLB player is uncomfortable around crowds but have the assistant to the traveling secretary hit him some grounders at a local high school or in his backyard for cryin' out loud.

And while that's a specific criticism I think highly of Kelly. Why has he never gotten another shot? His name never seemed to even come up and he was still young (50) in his last year with the Twins. He's actually two years younger than Valentine which I wouldn't have guessed.
   4. Bitter Mouse Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:07 AM (#4229076)
Why has he never gotten another shot?


I don't think he wanted to return to the game at that level.
   5. Wins Above Paul Westerberg Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:07 AM (#4229077)
Why has he never gotten another shot?

Because he retired. The Twins didn't fire him. They haven't fired a manager since 1986.
   6. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:12 AM (#4229080)
Yeah, Kelly was only 37 or something like that when he won the '87 WS.
   7. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4229116)
A guy like Todd Walker, he was a terrific hitter. I mean, he could hit. He could really hit...he really was a good hitter. You really enjoyed watching him hit.


But could he hit?
   8. AROM Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:45 AM (#4229128)
Tom Kelly must be one of those guys like Sparky Anderson who always looked old. Or else 37 looked at lot older to me in 1987 (I was 16) than it does now.

Checking google images, looks like more of the first.
   9. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4229130)
Tom Kelly: I ‘took the game of baseball very personal’
Man, it's a good thing Morgan Ensberg never played for him. Ensberg would freak out about Kelly not using the adverb.
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:56 AM (#4229148)
kelly as a manager was a modern day bill mckechnie. defense oriented. power was an afterthought. and it worked for him until the game blew up and he had the same experiences of managers who were unable to adapt after 1920. hard to win with a popgun offense when most teams are cannon-based.

he did go out on a winning season, but that was kind of fluky as the twins had a slew of guys have career seasons. cristian guzman had his best season with the bat. corey koskie had his best season. scrabbleboard hit .306 with 39 doubles. and joe mays led the pitching staff. how is that for a blast from the past. joe mays??

and a.j. and torii were just young crazy kids at the time. ahhh, memories.

anyway, tom had to know this was the time after a series of seasons of getting hammered by teams crushing 3 run homers left and right. good timing
   11. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4229160)
power was an afterthought.

Worst team home run differentials of all-time (homers hit minus homers allowed):

-115: 1996 Twins
-103: 1999 Twins
-96: 2000 Twins
-93: 2011 Astros
-90: 1995 Twins (in 144 games)

Yeah, Tom Kelly wasn't that interested in the power game.
   12. The District Attorney Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4229161)
You're taking this very personal. Tom, this is business and this man is taking it very, very personal.
   13. DL from MN Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4229169)
TK wanted to spend time on harness racing instead of baseball managing IIRC. He's now the most entertaining guest TV color announcer and a special instructor for the Twins.

He had his flaws including an unjustified attachment to Dick Such as a pitching coach. His #### does work in the playoffs though. He was able to manage some flawed teams past more talented squads.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4229181)

Tom Kelly must be one of those guys like Sparky Anderson who always looked old. Or else 37 looked at lot older to me in 1987 (I was 16) than it does now.


Tommy Lasorda is in this group too. He's 51 in this picture, or the same age George Clooney is now. Red Auerbach as well - he's 50 in this picture - taken the last year of his coaching career.
   15. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:35 AM (#4229189)
Wow, I never knew Red Auerbach and Tommy Lasorda were related.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4229259)
Ha. Sorry to subject you to seeing Tommy Lasorda twice. Red Auerbach photo.
   17. Darren Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4229291)
Paraphrasing Tom Kelly: Rather than reflect on what I might have done differently, I'm going to trash the other guy.
   18. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4229313)

Tommy Lasorda is in this group too. He's 51 in this picture, or the same age George Clooney is now. Red Auerbach as well - he's 50 in this picture - taken the last year of his coaching career.

If George Clooney is the standard none of us is going to look very good. That said Lasorda looks pretty old there.
   19. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 07, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4229341)
the 2 managers in the 1970 series--Weaver and Sparky, were 40 and 36 respectively, and they both looked like they were in their mid-50's
   20. BDC Posted: September 07, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4229358)
Little to do with baseball managers, but "Papa John" Schnatter is one of the most-incongruous looking celebrity men. (I suppose he comes to mind because he's often on TV sports doing ads.) Fifteen years ago, he looked like a 50-year-old man dyeing his hair and wearing mascara so that he'd look 35. But he actually was 35, so it was hard to see why he went to the trouble. It was saddening but also creepy. He actually looks better now (if still quite saddening) as an actual 50-year-old dyeing his hair and using mascara to look 35.
   21. McCoy Posted: September 07, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4229393)
Fortunately for me I'm a 35 year old man that looks younger than his age. It has always been that way. Though it kind of sucks when you are underage and nobody on the planet is going to believe that you are old enough to buy beer. I've often wondered at what point I will actually look old. I'll probably get sick at 55 or something and that's when it will hit me.
   22. something like a train wreck Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:09 PM (#4229817)
Age is particularily tricky for the fit, but prematurely bald or prematurely gray. A friend/mentor died last year at 98. He was a bald and old 30 and didn't look much different at 90.
   23. Bruce Markusen Posted: September 07, 2012 at 09:44 PM (#4229833)
I don't see how he's trashing Walker. It sounds to me like he's giving a pretty balanced answer, with some praise and criticism mixed in, while offering some insight into the guy's practice habits.

He also says he might have been a "little rough" on his players, which is more than most managers would admit to saying.

It reads like an honest answer, instead of some just cliched response.
   24. something like a train wreck Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:26 PM (#4229854)
honest answers and trashing are not mutually exclusive. I have no idea whether what he said is true. I know that it is gratuitously cruel.
   25. Rough Carrigan Posted: September 07, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4229879)
David Ortiz said of the Twins run by Kelly in those years that "they wanted me to swing like a little b*tch."

If you look at a guy like Ortiz and all you can think of is to take swings intending to hit singles then you're probably taking your small ball predilections a bit too far.
   26. Xander Posted: September 08, 2012 at 02:31 AM (#4230019)
That's a very interesting anecdote in the article. And Kelly is right, Walker was a horrid fielder.
   27. Darren Posted: September 08, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4230080)

It reads like an honest answer, instead of some just cliched response.


Have to agree to disagree on this. It's like a non-apology apology, a "sorry if you misunderstood what I said" if you will. He admits to be hard on players, yes, but then immediately plunges into why those players were lacking. The general point of the story is that Todd Walker was cowardly and lazy.

It may have been true from Kelly's perspective, but it's still not very nice.
   28. WillYoung Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:28 AM (#4230141)
The Twins gave Walker numerous chances and finally cut bait (and traded him for pennies to Colorado) when two unnamed starting pitchers* went to Kelly and asked that Walker never play behind them anymore. Walker was gone days later.

*There's no way it wasn't Radke and Milton, but that has never been confirmed.

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