Wednesday, January 29, 2014

1987 minnesota twins

this post covers the 1987 minnesota twins and cards numbered 272 to 274 in the set. here are the fronts:
and backs:
this is the smallest team subset so far, but features two new players to the set - kent hrbek and kirby puckett.  that blyleven card is in the blog header - a nod to my adopted hometown(s).

what team is this: the 1987 world champion minnesota twins.

why this team?:  the twins went from worst to first under rookie manager tom kelly to win the world series over the saint louis cardinals 4 games to 3.  it was the first title for the twins and the first for the franchise since walter johnson led the senators to the crown in 1924.

which players are featured: bert blyleven, kent hrbek, and kirby puckett.

why these players?:  well, let's break it down

bert blyleven was three years into his second stint with the twins when he went 15-12 with 8 complete games and a shutout.  of course, he also led the league for the second straight year in home runs allowed.  the 36-year old hall of famer to be was also the only guy on the team who had been on the twins previous division winner, way back in 1971!  in between stints as a twin, blyleven had earned a world series ring with the pittsburgh pirates for whom he appeared games 2 and 5 of the fall classic.  in 1987, he was the winning pitcher in both game 2 and game 5 of the alcs against the tigers, and he also earned the victory in game 2 of the world series.  he took the loss in game 5 of the fall classic despite giving up only 2 earned runs in 6 innings.

kent hrbek was the hometown boy straight outta bloomington when he took over the first base duties in 1981.  by 1987, he was firmly entrenched in the lineup, and was one of three twinkies (tom brunansky and gary gaetti were the others) to hit over 30 home runs that year.  he hit only .150 in the alcs against detroit, and only .208 against the cardinals in the world series, but he did deliver a grand slam at the metrodome in game 6 to pad the twins' lead and force the decisive game 7.  that granny is the subject of the memorable moment portion of hrbek's card.

kirby puckett was in his prime in 1987.  he hit .332 during the regular season while leading the american league in hits with 207.  it was the second of four straight seasons in which he would surpass the 200 hit mark and hit .328 or higher.  he also fell just two home runs short of 30, which would have given the twins the first foursome to reach that mark since the 1977 dodgers did it with dusty baker, ron cey, steve garvey, and reggie smith.  in the postseason, puckett hit .208 with a home run and 3 rbi against the tigers, but then in the world series he hit .357.  he did most of his damage in the last two games with a 4 for 4 game 6 in which he scored 4 times and then with a game tying double in game 7 to turn the tide in favor of the twins.

the stadium on the back is...?: the hubert h humphrey metrodome, which was deflated (on purpose this time) a couple of weeks ago and is in the process of being demolished.  not sure when this photo was taken (maybe the 2002 alcs as the huge banners/seat covers are not being used so there were a lot of tickets sold for this game), but at least it's the right stadium for this team.

did upper deck get it right?: world series mvp frank viola, gary gaetti, and tom brunansky (and why not manager tom kelly?) would have been good choices for this team, in addition to bert, herbie, and puck.  kudos, by the way, to upper deck for not including steve carlton in this team subset (yes, he pitched for the twins in 1987) even though he was already included on the checklist with various phillie and cardinal teams.

the photos are all wrong, however, as the twins switched to their pinstriped uniforms in 1987, complete with a 'm' logo on their hats and helmets.  no more baby blues or 'tc' logo for a while.

is this team timeless?:  yes.  here in minny, they never forget their first.

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