Souhan: Tom Kelly forever the humble champion

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 7, 2012 - 2:46 PM

As Twins manager, Tom Kelly always preferred to deflect attention to his players. As the team retires his number, he finally will get a moment in the spotlight.

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kjb22Sep. 6, 1211:19 PM

One of my favorite sports-related memories was created by Tom Kelly in a thoughtful and caring moment. I was 17 in 1999 and my high school advertised an opportunity to work at the metrodome for gopher and viking football games. We would do the lowest-level work: cleaning aisles and seats, taking tickets, handing out things on game-days and acting as ushers. A few friends and I jumped at the opportunity to get into the building for free, hoping to catch some of the action while getting paid. I was assigned a task, the details of which I can't remember, that took me into the bowels of the dome. I happened by various team locker rooms and was lucky to pass the Twins door just as TK emerged. I greeted him with all the enthusiasm of a 17 year-old confronted with an idol and he graciously replied and began to walk in my direction with me. He asked what I was there for and I told him I was there to work during the Gopher football game. I asked, in reply, if he was here there to watch. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, "well, no. You see, Son, when you get to be my age, you start to get a lot of aches and pains that you never knew were there so I was just here to sit in the hot tub and relax." (quote obviously from memory so forgive any small mistakes). I asked him what it was like to manage the Twins and he (naturally) downplayed the whole event and talked about how he liked to work with ballplayers and the people around a ballclub. We parted ways then. It sounds unremarkable to recount but I'll never forget the time one of my heroes gave his attention to an inconsequential person passing him by. Thanks, TK.

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krisonSep. 6, 1211:19 PM

Long live, TK. He's the man.

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lindy_frank123Sep. 6, 1211:37 PM

Gardy's done an excellent job? What game have you been watching TK? Anything but excellent that's for sure. Especially in the post season.

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jpnIIISep. 7, 12 1:28 AM

Total. class. act.

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comment229Sep. 7, 12 5:29 AM

I think Gardenhire and Kelly are a lot alike, personality wise. It just so happens that Kelly was in the right place at the right time, twice in his life, and Gardenhire is/was not. I am not sure of this, but wasn't Kelly the manager of the team the year before they won the World Series when they had the worst record in baseball? I would hope this is Gardenhire's last year, not because I think he has mismanaged this team, but geez, don't you think he has had enough?

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comment229Sep. 7, 12 5:30 AM

PS.... When someone asked why Bud Grant would not consider coming back to coach the vikings when they were struggling, the answer was short and sweet.... "no players."

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comment229Sep. 7, 12 5:34 AM

Finally, I would like to add my thanks to Mr. Kelly for giving Minnesota two thrills I will never forget. I still have both world series on video tape and I do watch them once in a great while, and still am thrilled by it all. Funny though, that as time goes by, more and more "kids" were not born and don't understand about Kirby and Kent and company...How humble is/was this man? After the 1987 game seven victory, does anybody know what Tom Kelly did after the final out?

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henrikSep. 7, 12 7:42 AM

I remember TK simply standing in the dug out and let the players do the celebrating on the field.

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holdsteady76Sep. 7, 12 7:50 AM

People were calling for TK's job in the early years.

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bobjenniferSep. 7, 12 8:02 AM

The man and his players produced a lot of great memories. My favorite was in 1987 just before the playoffs started and the national media was beginning to talk about the Twins chances and their 2.5 starting pitchers. A network announcer geek asked Kelly was how the Twins could possibly be competitive. His reply was simple; "I like my guys on this team, we'll do just fine"

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